- Harness civil society’s “incredible potential to accelerate social change at scale” – Graça Machel
- “Africa’s time is now. This should not only be words or prayers. It is within reach. I’m sure (the African Development Bank) will be able to meet this challenge” – Youssou N’Dour
- “We will work much harder, collectively and in unison, to accelerate the impact of our work” – Akinwumi Adesina
Artists should be on the frontline of Africa’s development, given their pivotal role as communicators, Youssou N’Dour, musician, businessman and former Culture and Tourism Minister of Senegal, said at the opening of the 2020 African Development Bank Civil Society Forum.
The two-day CSO Forum kicked off on Thursday under the theme “Engaging Civil Society in building back better after COVID-19”.
The virtual event opened with remarks from senior Bank officials, including Wambui Gichuri, Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Vanessa Moungar, Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, and President Akinwumi Adesina, with Graça Machel, Chair of the Graça Machel Trust, representing the civil society.
Adesina later engaged in a conversation with Machel and N’Dour.
“The role of civil society in monitoring interventions is crucial and important to ensure they are effectively deployed to reach the poor and vulnerable, who are most affected,” Adesina said, adding that the Bank would step up its efforts in the area.
Adesina said the critical issue was not the amount of funds that are provided by the Bank and others, but who they reach, adding that transparency and accountability are also critical.
Machel noted the Bank’s strong track record of working with governments and the private sector. She appealed for increased Bank funding to directly support civil society efforts to address the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach families in our societies.
“These organisations stepped up, often with limited resources and in very dangerous conditions, to save lives and restore dignity to communities in the midst of this pandemic,” she said. “Resources for organisations working with women, children and those living with disabilities and in the rural areas are desperately needed.”
Machel noted that channeling resources to strengthen the civil society sector as it responds to the challenges that COVID-19 has unearthed, would harness their “incredible potential to accelerate social change at scale”. Supporting women in particular would help to reap long-term dividends, she said.
For N’Dour, artists should be on the frontline of Africa’s development, given their pivotal role as communicators.
“Even in a place where there is oil, if there is no culture to explain this to the people, there is war…We should be able to say after (President Adesina’s) term that culture has been involved in the development of Africa,” he said, speaking in French via an interpreter.
“Culture is profitable and I’m available to provide my assistance, to work with my staff to create other champions in Africa, to take the African Development Bank’s work to another level,” N’Dour said.
The forum will explore cost-effective strategies and reflect on best practices to enhance collaboration between the Bank and civil society, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second day of the forum will be dedicated to sessions led by civil society organizations, which will provide a space to develop innovative grassroots ideas.