The African Policy Circle emerged out of the clear need to promote greater inclusive development discourse with key actors from the Global South. The origin of this initiative dates back to October 2013, when the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin, then responsible for a project which coordinated input from American and European civil society organizations into the official EU-US Development Dialogue, and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation invited a small number of African think tanks and civil society organizations to comment on the priorities and recommendations that emerged out of that project. The idea was that policies on development cooperation, particular those coming from the United States and the European Union – the world’s largest contributors of development aid – should include input from African civil society not only to improve EU and US development assistance, but also to fulfil the Busan pledge for inclusive development strategies.
One year later, the group built on this initial step and launched the African Civil Society Circle (ACSC). Expanding upon the small group from the year before, the ACSC had the following goals: first and foremost, to develop a platform for African think tanks and civil society organizations to consistently come together and discuss development priorities from an African perspective; second, to define and provide a unique contribution to African and international development debates while also building a strategic and sustainable community of experts.
Our first workshop was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2014 with 11 representatives of civil society organizations and think tanks mostly from Southern Africa. Our membership has since grown to 19 organizations and an increasing number of academics who contribute to workshop activities. We also expanded from Southern Africa and now have members from West and East Africa as well. We have held nine biannual workshops so far, published eight common positions, released a number of videos on critical issues in African development and have worked to further build up the unique value proposition of the group.
Today, through dedicated participation and a continuously expanding membership of leading civil society actors in Africa, the recently renamed African Policy Circle aims to become the leading platform for exchange among African civil society organizations and think tanks on African development policy. The group will continue to draw attention to key development issues in Africa and improve its ability to drive informed policymaking on the African continent and at the international level.