The African Policy Circle emerged from the crucial need to strengthen the voice of African civil society organizations and think tanks in the international development discourse. We strongly believe that the expertise of African grassroots organizations, non-governmental organizations and think tanks is vital for more-inclusive discussions on continental and global development issues and for ensuring more-effective international development cooperation.
However, platforms for collective engagement of civil society organizations and think tanks at the continental level in Africa are lacking. While many of our member organizations address common issues, opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and to maximize impact through the development and promotion of common positions on development issues are few and far between. Many African civil society organizations and think tanks possess a wealth of experience and knowledge on key development issues, but lack the critical mass needed to make their voices heard on transnational issues. As a result, civil society engagement with public actors and policymakers remains limited.
The African Policy Circle (APC) provides a platform for African civil society, in particular think tanks, to work together and develop new solutions to African problems. We take a transnational approach to governance issues, but also strive to empower our members to inform and influence policy at the country level. We value collaborative learning processes and the production of robust, evidence-based research to support common positions and policy recommendations on critical African development issues such as human rights and good governance, illicit financial flows, natural resource governance and localizing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), among others. Building on these positions, we utilize our collective voice to engage in both current and future development debates. We strongly believe that a well-connected civil society is an empowered civil society and can act as multipliers within our respective networks.
While impressive progress has been made in the past decade, there are four main issues facing the African continent that we as a group aim to tackle. First, we believe that governance and accountability issues continue to be one of the most critical problems facing Africa, with corruption and illicit financial flows lying at core of the continent’s governance challenge. We believe that Africa will keep struggling to overcome aid dependencies and to realize greater economic growth, and that these issues undermine good governance. We acknowledge that African governments, institutions and citizens must work to improve natural-resource governance models, strengthen tax administrations and empower national financial institutions. However, the Global North must also address the many international drivers, e.g., tax havens and arms sales, which continue to hinder Africa’s development.
Second, we are deeply troubled by the continuing conflicts affecting many African nations, including further militarization, radicalization and terrorism. We are committed to resolving these conflicts peacefully and to improving Africa’s peacekeeping and conflict resolution capacity.
Third, we are committed to providing greater opportunities for two of our key resources: youth and women. We believe that empowering all citizens, regardless of sex or age, to reach their full potential is a fundamental development objective. Eliminating the gender gap in African society and the economy is a key step to realizing this objective. Education, health, vocations and the political process are just a few of the areas in which Africa must achieve equal access for all. In addition, we believe that it is important to provide the skills that youth need in order to engage in the labor market, to maximize human capital and at the same time to diversify our economies beyond the export of unprocessed natural resources.
Finally, the continent as a whole is facing severe climate change–induced challenges, particularly with regards to food security and migration. Although the continent has a minimal carbon footprint, given its lack of widespread modern energy consumption, Africa will bear the lion’s share of the global cost of climate change, which will exacerbate pre-existing development issues and create new challenges such as food and water shortages, health concerns and climate refugees. Thus far, African voices have been grossly underrepresented during climate change talks, despite the burden that Africa bears of the Global North’s carbon-heavy development.