The African Consensus Forum seeks to become the World Economic Forum of developing nations, a Davos of the G77. With 54 of the G77 in Africa, this event will reflect the economic aspirations of developing nations, and call for new economic approaches that are pragmatic in solving the challenges of eliminating poverty reducing income gaps through community empowerment and business, water and food security amidst climate change.
African Consensus Forum will be held as an annual event in Dar Es Salaam (“City of Peace”), Tanzania, it will set a tone for the aspirations of a new global financial architecture relevant to the G77. Breakout meetings will be held in the five regions of Africa during the year. Future annual meetings may be hosted by other African countries.
The African Consensus Forum’s aim will be to evolve a pragmatic economic paradigm for Africa based on drawing together concrete examples of successful NGO community action initiatives and social enterprise best practices, on an annual basis, together with the sharing of practical experiences of civil society, business, finance and government throughout other parts of the development. Relevant shared practices from across Asia and other developing regions will be shared and their integration into a fresh and pragmatic approach to advancement in Africa will be discussed.
African Consensus Forum will be a Davos style forum in presentation and format. But will differentiate its self by articulating policy concerns and remedies that arise from community networks in a “NGO/social enterprise grass-roots upwards” rather than “multinational-corporation/multi-lateral funding institution downwards” approach. Thereby seeking to positively influence global corporate ethics, government and multilateral aid policy toward Africa by focusing on real challenges and drawing upon pragmatic success stories in articulating Africa’s own economic development paradigm. It will seek to scale these pioneering efforts through the experiences and inputs of business and finance leaders and present a set of policy references to government.
African Consensus seeks to articulate this paradigm by presenting at the end of each annual meeting an outcome document that will articulate the specific challenges, best remedies and alternatives for the African continent. The African Consensus Institute will be entrusted with drawing up the framework of outcome document each year. African Consensus Forum is while focused on Africa could evolve to become the Davos of the G77, with its annual outcome document being of high value to NGO and policy leaders of other continents and their participation will also be welcomed together with experiences and best practices.
The African Consensus Forum will seek to engage multi-stakeholders (NGO, social enterprise, activist, business, financial, multilateral and government) through an annual conference held in Dar Es Salaam, with regional breakout meetings throughout the year. The multi-stakeholder approach is an outcome of the Helsinki Process that envisions major global challenges must include stakeholders such as civil society and business together at the table with government to arrive at pragmatic solutions. President Kikwete was one of the early conveners of the Helsinki Process together with Nobel Peace Laureate Maarti Atissari, former president of Finland.
Asian Pragmatic Experiences
The lessons – good and bad – that Asia has experienced during the past three decades of unprecedented transformation will become an integral part of the experience sharing process at African Consensus Forum. From Bangladesh’s micro-credit to Singapore’s export-processing zones, Indonesia’s investment promotion organization, China’s merger of market and planning, Philippines economic turn-around from stagnation to fast growth, will be shared as offering pragmatic aspects of a fresh economic paradigm for the developing world. Caution against negative experiences such as excessive growth, over-reliance on infrastructure spending, and ecological damage will be openly discussed in seeking a balanced and sustainable pathway for Africa. Asian financial institutions and business leaders from China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore among others are expected to participate.
Within the first five years, African Consensus Forum can evolve into a self-sustaining institution. At minimum through a five-year series of conferences a set of stakeholder driven outcome papers will articulate a pragmatic economic paradigm for Africa, while engaging diverse parties on subjects that may not be open to dialogue in a diplomatic or bilateral context. Moreover, it will be a breakthrough in convening civil society, government, with business and finance together in a constructive dialogue focused on achieving solutions.
African Consensus Forum Outcome Document:
Each annual African Consensus Forum will present an outcome document to evolve an African economic model or pathway of best practices. While articulating an NGO and social enterprise vision, it must pragmatically embrace business, banking, finance sectors alongside the multilateral aid community. The objective is to present a pragmatic how to document (not an academic dialogue), to achieve a constructive tangible development blueprint, the ideas of which that can realistically borrowed and implemented.
African Consensus Forum Recognitions: A set of “inclusive sustainability awards” will be given at each annual ACF creating an alternative multi-stakeholder framework for dialogue on subjects where diplomatic or bi-lateral dialogue has proved difficult.
African Consensus Forum Framework
ACF Arusha will articulate economic needs from the community and grass roots upward. This approach differs from WEF Davos, widely perceived driven by multinational corporate chairmen/CEO and G8 government leaders top-down. ACF preference will be to select African NGO, activist, social entrepreneur leaders to speak, as well as emerging government leaders who articulate the African Consensus vision. Priority will also be given to speakers from financial-banking, environmental technology renewable/energy efficiency, agriculture sectors to speak alongside African NGO leaders, activists, social entrepreneurs and pioneers of community development solutions. Multi-lateral institutions will be invited to participate.
The entire African Consensus Forum focus/approach is community/grass roots needs articulating upwards to influence banking/financial/business/multi-lateral aid policy to thereby respond to Africa’s actual and evolving conditions in a pragmatic and sensitive way.
African Consensus Forum will offer a healthier more holistic forum as alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos approach that is perceived in tone and style among Africans and many in the developing world as a G8/multinational corporation/multilateral institution top-down approach insensitive to local considerations and aspirations.
African Consensus will seek to articulate constructive and pragmatic solutions bringing NGO/social enterprise/community development needs together with the resources of banking/finance/business/environmental/renewable-efficient energy/organic agriculture sector stakeholders, creating new paths for business and finance to participate in Africa’s growth. African Consensus Forum will NOT adopt radical or criticizing/condemnation of finance/business/multi-laterals as has characterized NGO conferences such as the World Social Forum. African Consensus Forum will articulate actual challenges and seek pragmatic solutions with inclusive stakeholder participation.
Articulating an African Economic Development Model
African Consensus Forum will each year systematically evolve through consensus an independent development model for Africa representing: pragmatic needs, vision, and stakeholder solutions. This will be articulated through the following outcomes at each annual forum:
-ACF Outcome Document that will articulate in a clear manner current challenges and suggested pragmatic solutions and pathways for stakeholder participation. Collective outcome documents over time will become the blueprint for an African vision of development and practical solutions to achieve these aspirations. Neither the World Economic Forum nor World Social Forum, have adopted this approach.
-African Consensus Forum Awards will be given in areas of: creative economic and financing alternatives, pioneering social enterprise for community empowerment, food-water security solutions, and renewable and efficient energy. will profile best practices as examples of each year’s Outcome Document principles being carried out through action.
African Consensus Secretariat (Secretariat)
The African Consensus Secretariat will coordinate local-related issues in organizing the annual African Consensus Forum. It will also hold workshops throughout the year in the lead-up preparation for the forum as regional breakout meeting. These will include identifying “best practice” business and social business cases and models, local issues of concern to be part of each annual agenda, regular liaison with government officials across Africa in connection with ongoing policy concerns to be raised at African Consensus Forum. The Secretariat will maintain networks with NGO and social enterprise groups across Africa. From this network base it will short-list NGO/social enterprises for best practice awards to be presented at the African Consensus Forum. The Secretariat will be established in Dar El Salaam. Future plans are to form a Crisis Mediation and Prevention Center under the Secretariat, with a particular focus on economic and resource issues in crisis prevention.