ACP YPN on CSOs & EPAs at the European Parliament

On 28th September 2017, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN President and Founder presented on “Cariforum & SADC: A model for other EPAs?” as part of S&D Africa week 2017 at the European Parliament, Brussels. This was the first official presentation in ACP YPN’s new capacity as official member of the EU-Cariforum Joint Consultative Committee at the European Economic and Social Committee. MEP Maria Arena chaired the session with two other Expert panellists: Brenda King MBE, Member at the EESC and President of the Sustainable Development Observatory (EESC) and Junior Lodge, Team Leader of the ACP-EU Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme and former Cariforum negotiator.

Yentyl’s presentation focused on three main areas:

  1. ACP exceptionalism in EU trade agreements vis-à-vis CSO provisions
  2. ACP exceptionalism within the EU-ACP EPAs vis-à-vis CSO provisions
  3. Recommendations for the SADC EPA & EAC and ECOWAS JCCs

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Firstly, she explained that there is ACP exceptionalism in EU trade agreements. For example, the EU-ACP EPAs – be it the Cariforum EPA or others since, – depart from the logic of other trade agreements that the EU has signed since the EU-Korea trade agreement and the EU’s global strategy. Notably, they do not necessarily have legally binding commitments on civil society engagement, not do they have dedicated sustainable chapters, expect for the SADC EPA. See more via her joint publication here.

Secondly, she also explained that the exceptionalism also exists within the different EPAs: from the EU-EAC and the EU-ECOWAS EPAs that contain similar provisions to the EU-CARIFORUM EPA i.e. they establish the JCCs, to the SADC EPA which have no provisions, besides an article referring to monitoring through the “respective participative processes and institutions’ of the Parties” (Art. 4, EU-SADC EPA).

Third, Yentyl laid out three recommendations for the EU-SADC EPA: (i) A protocol could be added to the agreement; (ii) CSOs can still meet to discuss the agreement despite no formal provisions in the EPA for this; (iii) CSOs can be formally included through use of the revision clause five years after the EPA entered into force.

In conclusion, Yentyl responded to the main question of the panel discussion by stating that the EU-SADC EPA cannot be used as a model because of its lack of provisions for CSO inclusion. Yet, the EU-Cariforum JCC can share lessons, best practice and actively engage with the other regions that are establishing JCCs. She also highlighted that ACP exceptionalism in EU relations must come to and end, and there are many broader lessons to learn from the other EU trade agreements.

Find out more about the EU-Cariforum JCC’s 1st meeting here.

Find out more about the EU-Cariforum JCC’s 2nd meeting here.

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ACP YPN partner on Youth for the 2nd S&D Africa week

On 25-27 September, ACP YPN co-hosted and co-organised the S&D Africa week’s Africa-EU Youth workshop bringing together 25 young people from both continents as part of the 2nd S&D Africa week in the European Parliament in Brussels. The participants discussed the theme ‘The Youth Vision for the Future Africa-EU Partnership‘ and drew up a declaration, which will be presented to the EU-AU Heads of State Summit in November, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast by Gianni Pitella, President of the S&D group of the European Parliament.

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The first day of the workshop was divided into four thematic clusters. The first session addressed the issue of “Africa’s Demographic Boom & Europe’s Demographic Demise?- A Chance or a Disaster? Sexual and reproductive health and rights – Access to health information, religion and culture: Who decides?” The session was moderated by MEP Maria Arena – S&D Group Coordinator at the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and an introduction to the topic was given by Gina Wharton, ACP YPN Expert on SRHR and Advocacy Advisor at IPPF Europe Network.

The second session focused on “Root causes of internal and external migration: Challenges and the way forward: Conflict, economy and climate change“. The session was moderated by MEP Cécile Kyenge – Vice-President of the ACP_EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and introductory remarks to the subject was presented by Tarila Marclint Ebiede, ACP YPN Migration Expert.

The third session focused on “Youth employment: over-skilled, under-skilled or clientalism? Education, brain drain and entrepreneurship“. The session was moderated by MEP – Silvia Costa, S&D Group coordinator in the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education, and introductory remarks were made on the role of entrepreneurship and education having positive impacts on youth employment by Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN President and Trade Expert.

Lastly, the fourth session focused on “Youth involvement in politics and public discourse: Good governance, transparency and accountability“. The session was moderated by MEP Elena Valenciano, Vice-President of the S&D Group and introductory remarks by June Paskalina Lacour, ACP YPN Expert and Project Coordinator. The second day was spent drafting the Declaration and a presentation of the main points discussed was made by the rapporteurs and special rapporter during the S&D group meeting on the third day of the workshop.

Besides the workshop, ACP YPN also contributed to the Foundation for Progressive European Studies (FEPS)SOLIDAR Millenial’s Dialogue, where Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN Parliamentary Advisor spoke on “Africa at a Crossroads: Youth Political Mobilisation, Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly”. Bora presented alongside Serigne Bbodj, Researcher at the Imagine Africa Institue and Alphonse Muambi, Author and Expert on African elections & democracy, and the panel was chaired by Maria Freitas, Policy Advisor at FEPS.

Find out more about the S&D group here.

See more via #withAfrica

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ACP YPN with Youth for Sustainable Europe

On 24th – 27th September 2017, Aïssatou Touré, ACP YPN Agriculture and Sustainable Development Expert took part in “Youth for Sustainable Europe”- a special initiative for youth in development – organised by the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) as part of the LADDER project (Local Authorities as Drivers for Development Education and Raising Awareness).

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Aïssatou discussed four important issues:

  1. the absence of reference to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in the New European Consensus on Development;
  2. the relevance of glocalizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  3. the importance to develop ACP- EU traineeship for the youth on sustainable agriculture;
  4. the necessity to build bridges for the youth in Belgium.
  • First, Aïssatou explained the place of the SDGs in the European Union (EU) development’s policy as written in its strategic document for the SDGs, the New European Consensus on Development. Aïssatou then emphasized the fact that the Cotonou partnership agreements between African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) and the EU isn’t mentioned not once in the New European Consensus on Development, stating the evident lack of a coherent and pragmatic and inclusive strategy.
  • Second, Aïssatou suggested to glocalize the SDGs on a local level in order to implement it more easily and to be able to include the youth throughout the implementing process.
  • Third, Aïssatou proposed during a workshop on digital democracy with the Youth Metre tool the possibility to implement a training on eco-farming for the youth of ACP and EU countries to share good practices and expertise on the subject.
  • Fourth, Aïssatou in collaboration with a JEF member offered, during a workshop on youth participation, to develop a project “Breaking the Bubbles” that exist between European expats and Belgian with migrant background by creating bridges throughout a variety of activities.

In conclusion, throughout the different panel discussions, workshops and debates several tangible concrete solutions were discussed, good practices and expertise were shared, all with the aim of enhancing youth participation for a more sustainable world.

By Aïssatou Touré – Get in touch with Aïssatou on LinkedIn Twitter.

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ACP YPN at Linklater’s Diversity & Inclusion week

On 11th September 2017, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN President and Founder, moderated the panel on ‘Inter-sectionality in law and practice’ as part of Linklater’s Diversity & Inclusions week. She had the honour to join Jason-Louise Graham, Knowledge & Learning, Linklaters who spear-headed the initiative, and Alfiaz Vaiya, Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI).

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Jason-Louise Graham provided a brief summary of the meaning of intersectionality by summarising the legal case of Emma DeGraffenreid v. GENERAL MOTORS (GM) 1976. The Court dismissed the case because GM had hired women, albeit white, and it had hired black people, albeit men. The court did not see the problem and would not let Emma DeGraffenreid benefit from two separate claims in one go. The court dismissed the case because the facts did not fit into the available lens or frame so it could not easily incorporate these facts into its way of reasoning, thus creating a blind spot. In other words, Crenshaw concluded: We cannot see/identify a problem when we do not have words to communicate about it, and we cannot communicate about it unless we can see it, but we cannot see it unless we have the correct lens to see with. The court did not have the correct lens. After discovering this case, in the 1980’s, Professor Kimberly Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality. She uses the word to explain that people’s identities are multi-dimensional – something we are all aware of. But identities are the layered in power – some with mostly dominant characteristics, while others are layered with more (or mostly) non-dominant, or marginalising characteristics. When multiple social ‘problems’ overlap, they create multiple levels of social injustice.

Alfiaz presented on Mainstreaming Anti-Racism & Inter-Sectionality based on his work as co-ordinator of ARDI. He presented the two CJEU cases: G4S v Achbita and Bougnaoui and explained the following: 1) ‘Neutrality’, set of norms based on the historical development of the majority population of any country, historical social construct, subject to change; 2) One cannot be neutral only by removing certain visible signs, a broad and diverse range of behaviours, opinions, ideas exist that cannot be “neutralized”; 3) Neutrality should be required for the tasks you perform as an employee, not for the clothes you wear; 4) Generally, policies of neutrality are used to justify restrictions on the ability of religious, ethnic and racial minorities to manifest their religion. Neutrality policies do not tend to be used to counter the effect of broader, mainstream and more invisible influences in the work-place; 5) Policies of neutrality are not neutral – they exclude some symbols of difference (religious symbols) but not others (clothing signifying gender); 6) Policies of neutrality disproportionately affect those choosing to visibly manifest their religion over those who do not or those who do not have a religion; 7) Workplaces in Europe should be the reflection of an increasingly diverse Europe and not only open to those who fit white secular norms.

Yentyl posed several questions to Alfiaz, including ‘Are there national frontiers within the debate on racial equality?’ and gave input with regards to the work that ACP YPN is doing to increase diversity and inclusion at the level of the EU e.g. starting with promoting diversity at the College of Europe, but also recently co-signing a joint CSO letter on recommendations for the European Commission’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. There was active participation from the audience, with all questions coming from senior management. Yentyl referenced the finding’s of the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report 2017, which aptly states that ‘diverse and inclusive teams are more innovative, engaged, and creative in their work‘.

What is Linklaters? Linklaters LLP is a multinational law firm – the Linklaters Brussels office has more than 120 staff with specialists in different legal fields wrking with a diverse range of clients, from corporations, financial institutions and governments. The Belgian team is closely integrated within the global platform of more than 2,000 lawyers across 29 offices in 20 countries.

Are you a student, trainee or junior lawyer interested to join Linklaters? Find out more information here.

What is ARDI? The European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) exists to promote racial equality, counter racism, and educate about non-discrimination in the work of the European Parliament. It aims to be at the heart of parliamentary work for racial equality, and against all discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, and nationality. The Intergroup also looks at discrimination based on these grounds together with gender and age.

What does ARDI do? ARDI works to 1) Mainstream anti-racism and diversity in European Parliament policy areas such as migration, and support initiatives on other discrimination grounds (such as the adoption of the European Union (EU) Equal Treatment Directive); 2) Adopt calls for national strategies to combat Afrophobia, anti-Gypsyism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, as well as ensure the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategy in line with non-discrimination standards, and identify key policy areas to advance equality; 3) Strengthen EU and national legal basis to tackle all crimes of hate speech and crime and to ensure investigation and prosecution of racist crimes; 4) Implement appropriate disciplinary and self-regulatory mechanisms in the European Parliament to help combat hate speech in the European Parliament and by European political leaders; 5) Promote diversity in the workplace and in political participation.

ACP YPN was supported by Rachele Gianfagna, LLM graduate specialised in EU migration and a trainee lawyer with Avocats sans Frontières; and Anne Oloo, LLM student at the University of Ghent.

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ACP YPN co-sign letter EU Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

On 4th September 2017, the ACP YPN and 28 organisations working on equality in the EU published an open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of European Commission and Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, which expresses some deep concern vis-à-vis the European Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy – ‘A better workplace for all: from equal opportunities to towards diversity and inclusion.’

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Firstly, the letter expresses concern “with the decision to exclude staff belonging to racial, ethnic and religious minorities as a specific target group in this strategy and the failure to plan targeted measures to improve racial, ethnic and religious diversity at the European Commission”.

Secondly, the letter also expresses concern that “[b]y not specifically tackling discrimination based on race, ethnic origin and religion, this strategy falls short of this mission and overlooks one of the most pressing concerns of diversity and inclusion in the European Commission today”.

 Thirdly, the letter underlines that “Particularly at senior levels, the issue of under-representation is acute. This points to a trend of structural discrimination within the European Commission and jeopardises the equal inclusion of racial, ethnic and religious minority staff”.

Based on these issues, the co-signatories recommended that:

  1. The Strategy be amended immediately to include ‘racial, ethnic and religious minority staff’ as a target group and specific measures are developed to ensure that the Commission is a fair and equal workplace for this group.
  2. The specific measures acknowledge and take steps to address the overwhelming lack of representation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities (particularly at senior levels), discrimination within the workplace, and the need for policies for reasonable accommodation of cultural and religious needs for Commission staff. Particular attention should also be devoted to the workplace situation of women belonging to this group.
  3. In the design of the forthcoming operational action plan the European Commission should seek advice from organisations with expertise on this issue, and consult racial, ethnic and religious minority staff – both men and women. The plan should implement specific measures for this target group.

Read the full letter here via the ENAR website.

What is the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)? ENAR is the only pan-European anti-racism network that combines advocacy for racial equality and facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racism actors in Europe. The organisation was set up in 1998 by grassroots activists on a mission to achieve legal changes at European level and make decisive progress towards racial equality in all EU Member States. Since then, ENAR has grown and achieved a great deal.

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ACP YPN at PACO conference on Parliaments in EU Diplomacy

On 31st August, Yentyl Williams, Researcher at the Centre of EU Studies (CEUS), Ghent University and ACP YPN President & Founder, presented her work on the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the Jean Monnet Network PACO’s final conference on ‘Parliaments in EU Diplomacy and External Action – Control Cooperation and Contestation’ at the University Foundation, Brussels.

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Yentyl presented her paper, co-written with Dr. Sarah Delputte, entitled, ‘Equal partnership between unequal regions? Assessing deliberative parliamentary diplomacy in ACP-EU relations’ on the fourth panel of the conference, on ‘Parliamentary Scrutiny and diplomacy in the area of trade policy and regional cooperation’ alongside esteemed experts: Prof. Dr. Seiglinde Gstohl (College of Europe, Bruges), Prof. Dr. Dirk de Bièvre (University of Antwerp), Tomas Baert (Head of Trade Strategy, DG Trade, European Commission) and Dr. Xavier Nuttin (European Parliament).

Yentyl explained that while there might be a considerable amount of literature on EU-ACP relations, the JPA has been somewhat of a forgotten institution in the partnership. This is surprising for two reasons: (i) the JPA is the oldest and most institutionalised parliamentary assembly between the countries of the global North and South. Indeed, it was a model for similar North-South parliamentary assemblies, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) and the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EUROLAT); and (ii) the parliamentary dimension has grown in importance both within and beyond the EU-ACP framework with each revision of Cotonou.

Yentyl explained that the paper develops an analytical framework to assess the quality of deliberation on the subject of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) at the ACP-EU JPA based on five areas (see below). However, the results showed that JPA dialogue on EPAs struggles to approach the ideal type of deliberation, even if there is overwhelming consensus on EPAs at the JPA. For example, there were a number of recurrent critical issues: (i) participation of EU MEPs in political parties versus ACP country representatives; (ii) ACP bloc voting blurring the substantial openness; (iii) narrow interests pervert the common good; (iv) the JPA split vote threats constructive politics, or (v) rules of procedure reinforces difference as opposed to neutralising it – which lowers the quality deliberation at the JPA.

In summary, Yentyl underlined that the findings of the paper would serve as useful points and recommendations for EU and ACP negotiators as they approach the revision of the EU-ACP partnership in a post-Cotonou era.

What is the Jena Monnet Network PACO? The Jean Monnet Network ‘Interparliamentary Cooperation in the EU’s external action – Parliamentary Scrutiny and Diplomacy in the EU and beyond’ (PACO) brings together three inter-related teaching and research areas: EU external relations, inter-parliamentary cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy. PACO aims to discover and explain if and why inter-parliamentary cooperation in the field of external relations has contributed towards increased scrutiny by the EP and national parliaments; (ii) PACO aims to discover and explain if and why parliamentary diplomacy can add to the diplomatic tool set in the EU’s cooperation with third partners via its own delegations at the bilateral and multilateral levels (i.e. countries, regional blocs like the ACP or regional organizations like the African Union); (iii) PACO aims to contribute to a new understanding of the role of European parliaments (EP, national parliaments) in EU external action.

See the Virtual Maps of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation (VIPCO) here.

See the VIPCO factsheet for the ACP-EU JPA here.

See the official pictures here.

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ACP YPN becomes member of AU Youth Advisory Board

In July, ACP YPN was nominated to be part of the African Union’s (AU) Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to AU Youth Division. On 6th-9th August, Celine Fabrequette ACP YPN Secretary General joined the first Capacity Building workshop of the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis-Abeba. The Capacity building workshop was developed and provided by the AU Youth Division in collaboration and financial support from IPPF. The objective of the training was to provide the Youth representatives with enough information on the YAB and its role and its responsibilities, review of last year activities, the African Union Commission Youth programmes, the African Youth Charter, the AU 2063 Agenda , 2017 focus year Harnessing the demographic dividend through Investments in Youth and lastly to develop an action plan of activities for the upcoming year in the four areas (Education & skills development; Rights, Governance & Youth empowerment; Health & Well-being; Employment & Empowerment) covered by the Demographic dividend.

YAB

To develop the 2017-2018 YABs’ action plan the youth representatives had the opportunity to interact and exchange with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The United Nation Economic and Social Council (the ECOSOC), the African Union Commission Department of Political Affairs (DPA), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Lucky enough, the training took also place at the same time as the AU Finance Ministers Meeting and members of the YAB where invited to an informal diner exchange at his Excellency Honorable Ken Ofori-Atta AU Deputy Chairperson Residence, this exchange confirmed the support and the direction taken by the AU Financial Ministers toward a more inclusive and supportive youth dialogue, opening the access for more constant exchange between the YAB and the AU Financial Ministers.

With such variety of Youth organisation members expertise and for the first time representative of the Diaspora, it was only natural that the focus of the YAB this year, be based on the Demographic Dividend Four areas (Education & skills development; Rights, Governance & Youth empowerment; Health & Well-being; Employment & Empowerment); which changed from the previous year, where the focus of the YAB was on Youth Health and Well-being. And so as YAB member, ACP YPN will provide inputs and support the development of activities to foster Youth Employment & Empowerment.

So do stay tune, and keep following us on our various social media, more information to come soon!

By  Céline Fabrequette

Contact & follow Celine via LinkedIn & Twitter

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ACP YPN at 6th African Diaspora Youth Forum

On 1st-4th August Celine Fabrequette ACP YPN Secretary General took part in the Accelerated Africa organised by the African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe (ADYFE) in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna. The Four days conference was an opportunity for African Diaspora entrepreneurs to interact and exchange with Africans based entrepreneurs (Diaspora Business Talks), internationals and regionals policy makers (Panels Discussions). The conference had also a capacity building element to it, which had for purpose to provide participants with tools to understand; create & develop their own Pitch & Business Model Canvas (Diaspora Startup Award program). The capacity building training and workshop was provided & facilitated by Theodore Khoury with concur of five Africans based entrepreneurs (Rotimi Williams (CEO Kereksuk Rice Farm), Vongai Chekanai (Agronomist), Affiong Williams (CEO Reelfruit), Geraldine (Consultant), Ivan Mworozi (Akiba) .

The first groups exchanged with the entrepreneurs concluded on advice on what elements are needed to be taken into account when going into entrepreneurship. Need to be passionate about what they are doing and not be afraid of the unknown. When developing their idea must first determine a need, the idea/product must respond to need; it must bring a value or create a value. They also need to calculate the risk which means knowing their markets and competition. When searching for funds first, they must start by looking in their surrounding (family, friends)/ network, this will create a frame where there will have to start small before scaling up. To conclude entrepreneurs need to constantly keep learning, and to always heal the advised of other while being aware of what is out there.

6th African Diaspora Youth Forum

A total of 20 pitches were made in which Celine got the opportunity to pitch (Diaspora Start-up Award program) ACP YPN SDGs Mainstreaming bottom-up approach before her peers and experts. This was a very good learning experience, but also a good test run and ways to already take the temperature among our targeted audience. The interests by the audience lead to a useful interaction, which she took, into account when learning how to develop a Business Model Canvas. ACP YPN idea respond to the question how while making profit entrepreneurs can have a social impact. In the seconds workshop participant had to first identify three social issues then identify mechanisms to counter those social issues and thus create a sense of responsibility in regards to keep safe social rights by entrepreneurs. Celine’s’ group identified Youth Unemployment; Gender Inequality & Xenophobia has the pressing social issues to be resolved. The group identified that to take a step toward reducing Youth unemployment four elements needs to be put in place: Awareness, Empowerment, Youth social actors of change & Free Education. For gender equality, they propose anonymous CV & gender pay parity in every occupation and to fight against Xenophobia, awareness need to be made from childhood.

The conclusion that can be made from these four days is that “entrepreneurship, migration and unemployment are all link to each other. In other words: finding solution for one requires to find & developed solutions for the others. In that the diaspora has a crucial role to play in the development of the solutions but also their implementation.” By its Excellency Honorable Alpha Souleymane Bah ECOWAS.

By Celine Fabrequette

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ACP YPN becomes member AU Diaspora Youth Task Force

On 25th July 2017, the African Union (AU) mission to the EU held it first meeting of the newly inaugurated AU Diaspora Youth Task Force (AU-DY-TF). Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Expert and Aissatou Touré, Expert in Sustainable agriculture and development, represented ACP YPN. They were joined by an expert cohort, including  African Union’s (AU) officer Philip Bob Jusu, Mohammed Iglueh Ofleh, Elias Network, and African Diaspora youth organizations such as Africa Communications Week (AfricaCommsWeek), African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe (Adyfe), African Diaspora Network in Europe (ADNE), AfricanGist, Be Proud asbl, Cafrikap, Cercle des Etudiants Congolais de Louvain-la-Neuve (CEC LLN), Empower‘her Network, HISHI, Jeunesse Ubuntu, YABS network, and Women Intech Africa on the subject how to bring the African youth diaspora closer to the African Union.

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Bora and Aïssatou raised four points relating to the need of (1) a comprehensive inclusion of the Diaspora, (2) inclusion of a partnership with the Pan African Youth Union, (3) the implementation of the previous signed charters and (4) the prioritizing if key technical groups.

  1. There should be a clear definition of ‘Diaspora’ in order to better identify the opportunities to better engage the AU and diaspora youth. In particular, Bora raised the idea of creating a database and of organising an African Youth Day.
  2. There should be a strong link between the AU-DY-TF and the Pan African Youth Union.
  3. The diaspora youth should be engaged on both the implementation and the monitoring of signed charters at national level.
  4. Technical groups to facilitate the work of the AU-DY-TF should cover areas such as media, events and internships, policy and advocacy, as well as a cross cutting group e.g. on youth and gender issues.

ACP YPN welcomes this exciting initiative to create better links between the AU headquarters and the youth of the AU’s sixth region, the Diaspora.

By Aïssatou Touré

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ACP YPN Conference on entrepreneurship and development

On the 6th of June ACP YPN, in collaboration with World Solidarity Forum (WSF), held its first conference on entrepreneurship and development. Disrupting the momentum, ACP YPN and WSF put at the centre of the conference Young entrepreneurs from ACP & Asia-Pacific, and put the decision-makers in the “hot seat”.  Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Secretary General, had the honour of moderating this exchange between MEP Cecile Kyenge; his excellency Mr. Paw Lwin Sein, Ambassador of Myanmar to BENELUX and the European Union; Mr. Eric Owusu Nimako, representative of EWALA; Ms. Cynthia Mukendy, Founder of African Gist; Mr. Artur Safaryan, Co-founder of Empasco; Mr. Okka Phyo Maung, Consultant & Entrepreneur; Mr. Lex Tan,CEO & Founder of MotionsCloud; Ms. Sarah Batool Haider, freelance journalist & Mr. Maximim Emagna, Expert in charge of Private Sector at the ACP Secretariat. The other innovative elements of the conference were the interventions coming from New York, London & Myanmar from Youth Diaspora entrepreneurs who used to live in Belgium.

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In her opening remark, MEP Cecile Keyenge explained that the term “development” was not neutral because of its relations to power issues concerning both the donor and the recipient countries. Furthermore, she argued that it is difficult to speak of development without considering the resources of a given territory and the education of its population – two factors which are clearly linked with entrepreneurship. See her full intervention here.

His Excellency Mr. Paw Lwin Sein, Ambassador of Myanmar to BENELUX and the European Union, highlighted Myanmar cooperation with the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in different domains, such as security, economic development, education, and youth entrepreneurship. The last two areas are of particular importance to Myanmar, having a very young population themselves. See his full intervention here.

Mr. Eric Owusu Nimako, presented the link between the ventures of EWALA – a company providing mobile money transfer services – and the positive impact and contribution that they have in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. He explained that companies were very innovative in this sector, especially in Africa, even though there are more mobile phones than people. He highlighted the fact that his company charges no fees to send money, and concluded by saying that in order to make development really sustainable, it is not more aid that is needed, but instead more investment. See his full intervention here.

Ms Cynthia Mukendy presented her social venture African gist which aims to help the diaspora who are willing to go back to work in their country of origin to understand the African environment thanks to her broad network of contacts. See and listen to her full intervention here.

Mr. Lex-Tan connected with us through skype from the United States. Being himself a CEO and Founder of a small insurance technology company, he bestowed to young entrepreneurs like himself some advice on how to be successful: first of all, never give up and take action. You can have brilliant ideas but they may be useless if you do not know how to realize them. Secondly, you should be supported by a good team, and thirdly, you must be able to learn from your failures, which are likely to happen. See his full intervention here

Ms Sarah Batool Haider, a Pakistani journalist, explained that the current situation of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan has now evolved in a positive way, providing them with a lot of new opportunities compared to a couple of years ago when they were heavily oppressed. However, she asked that more attention be given to rural areas and to conflict-affected zones. See her full intervention here.

Artur Safaryan provided a presentation on the theory of change that they have developed in EMPASCO. Explaining the importance of developing sustainable solutions through viable internationals partnerships. See his full intervention here

Okka Phyo Maung shared his experience of when he came to Brussels and his transition from BE to Myanmar. He explained that the training and education that he received helped him to reintegrate into the Myanmar social and economic circles, which in turn helped him to come up with his recycling business to improve recycling methods in Myanmar. see his full intervention here

Mr. Maximin Emagna explained the work that the ACP secretariat is doing and the opportunities that are now available, and being made available, to young ACP entrepreneurs. He also spoke of the possibility to start working with ACP YPN to help integrate into the future ACP strategy a Diaspora Youth element. See his full intervention here.

Through this conference young entrepreneurs were able to talk about their ventures, as well as the difficulties they are facing, used to face, and the solutions that they would like to see be implemented to support their development. Celine Fabrequette concluded by saying that “the issue here is that Young entrepreneurs are not aware of the opportunities and support that are available to them, and so the way to communicate opportunities must change. It is a matter of equality and inclusion”. MEP Cecile Kyenge agreed and proposed that at the upcoming AU-EU Youth Summit, a side event be developed where youth could be made aware of all the financial support available at EU, ACP, and AU level.  Since the conference, ACP YPN submitted this idea to the Youths group organising the AU-EU Youth Summit in Abidjan.

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