East Africa’s Kenya is set to host the 2023 African NGO Summit, in Nairobi, from 21-22 November 2023 at the Trademark Hotel.
According to organisers, the theme of the event is to focus on ‘Maximizing Opportunities For Sustainable Peace and Socioeconomic Development of the African Continent’.
For too long, the realisation of peace and human development in Africa has been left in the hands of politicians. Despite the enormous contribution of African and international civil society, little has been achieved to realise sustainable peace and development across the continent. On this note, the African NGO Summit will be a meeting point for NGOs from across the continent and abroad to converge on the socioeconomic needs of the African continent.
“We’ve been complacent for too long, leaving our fate in the hands of politicians,” says Peter SaSellu, President and CEO of the African NGO Council and Convener of the African NGO Summit. “It is time NGOs come together from all corners of the continent and the world to deliberate on how to realise sustainable peace and development on the continent.”
“No sustainable development could be realised if there is no sustainable peace. As of today, Africa has the highest rate of armed conflicts and the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world,” says Philip Kpakiwa, Country Director of MasterPeace Guinea and Board Member of the African NGO Council.
As the premier meeting point for Africa’s civil society and key stakeholders, ideas will be deliberated upon to put Africa’s civil society voice across the board in a constructive and deliberate manner. With more coups and armed conflicts emerging in countries across the continent by the day, the time to talk about peace and sustainable development is now. Conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts are essential for sustainable development, as they help to reduce tensions, prevent violence, and create an enabling environment for development initiatives to succeed. Climate change is an eminent issue altogether.
“African civil society has never had the opportunity to come together in a constructive manner,” says Catherine George, the Executive Director of the African NGO Summit. “NGOs play critical roles in the fight against poverty and extreme human suffering, impunity and social injustice in local communities across the continent. Beginning as advocacy and personal support organisations often established by members of the affected community and staffed largely by volunteers, NGOs have evolved into a diverse spectrum of multi-service agencies that, to various degrees, provide case management and often direct services such as housing, nutrition and food items, civic education, legal aid, mental health and HIV/AIDS counselling, adherence support, and oftentimes direct medical services.”
“In addition, many NGOs carry out advocacy to address the needs of communities living in abject poverty and disproportionately affected by gross human rights violations; educating communities on multiple issues such as the right to justice; and facilitating access to electoral processes,” she says.
While there are many variations in the specific menu of services individual NGOs provide, the core elements of programming (and sometimes direct) services, humanitarian relief, human rights protection and promotion civic education, and system advocacy and lobbying are common among most NGOs.
“Despite the tremendous role NGOs play in peace-building processes and national and regional development efforts, there is no centralised venue for the “gathering” of NGOs operating across the continent. Though a wide range of organisations and initiatives have been created out of community-based and national and sub-regional efforts – and while various coalitions and alliances have formed to articulate and mobilise around shared advocacy agendas, or to share best practices in sustainability, evaluation and services, yet no Africa-wide assembly or initiative has been formed to proactively assemble the continent’s NGOs or assemble information on the evaluation or state of NGO management, capacity development, administration, and strategic growth. Thus, while many NGOs have been asking questions about their own regional assemble for decades, there has never been a quantitative or qualitative way for them to ask these questions across the field,” Says Peter SaSellu.
To fill this void, the African NGO Summit was established as an African regional forum that will bring together NGO leaders, policymakers, donors, and key stakeholders to converge on pressing national and regional issues of today.
It is expected that deliberations at the Summit in Nairobi will result in a more constructive and deliberate effort to help promote sustainable peace and development across the continent. It is therefore important for all NGOs across the continent to meet in Nairobi on November 21-22 to bring this to a reality.