ACP YPN at the Permanent Mission of the African Union in Brussels on the Diaspora Youth Engagement on Open House Platform

On the 25th of July 2017 the African Union Liaison Brussels office held it first Open House Initiative meeting. There, Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN policy & Advocacy officer and Aissatou Touré expert in Sustainable agriculture and development, held a discussion with 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 in order to strengthen their feeling of belonging and empowerment.

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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. Bora explained that we should have a clear definition of what we call the Diaspora to be able to focus our action plan on the right people. By doing such, he raised the idea of creating a database cataloguing every person of the African Diaspora. Bora also suggested the idea of organising an African youth Day for the African descent youth to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information, and to meet up with other organizations.
  2. The second point focuses on the necessity to establish a strong cooperation with the Pan African Youth Union who are coordinating African Youth organizations. This cooperation can only benefit Africa.
  3. The third point focuses on the inclusion of the youth on both the implementation and the monitoring of signed charters at national level.
  4. At the end of the meeting, specific technical groups were proposed for this initiative to work on. Aïssatou and Bora suggested creating a media, events and internship technical group, a policy and advocacy technical group, and a cross cutting group on youth and gender issues.

In conclusion, it was agreed that the Open House Initiative should be institutionalized into a youth initiative composed of technical groups working on specific youth=related issues. This Youth initiative could also work on the establishments of a data base cataloguing skills from the AfricanDiaspora and on a diaspora investment fund.

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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ACP YPN on partnerships for responsible mining at European Development Days

On 8th June 2017, Zama Nkosi, ACP YPN Private Sector Expert, spoke at a panel discussion “Responsible mining – partnerships to help achieve the SDGs” as part of the 2017 European Development Days. She spoke alongside Lawrence Dechambenoit (Vice President of Corporate Relations for Africa at RIO TINTO), Herbert Lust (Vice-President and Managing Director for Europe at Conservation International) and Sergio Piazzardi (Policy Officer: Private Framework Development, Trade, Regional Integration at the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in the European Commission). Sanoussi Bilal (Head of the Economic Transformation and Trade Programme at the European Centre for Development Policy Management) moderated the session.

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Zama discussed: (i) the importance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in partnerships towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); (ii) what young people would like these partnerships to achieve (iii); artisanal mining as a preferred occupation among young people in mining communities and (iv) some of the key elements of a partnership from a youth perspective.

Zama highlighted the importance of civil society in collaborating with the mining sector towards the delivery of the SDGs. She emphasised that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), such as ACP YPN, often have direct understandings of the local communities, their expectations and perceptions. She linked this to a critique that often emerges from young people about a lack of consultation when initiatives are designed for local development in mining communities.

Secondly, she elaborated on the critical areas a partnership should tackle from a youth perspective. She argued that, in this sense, the main areas of interest are job creation and skills development. She also emphasised the need to weave women’s rights in the jobs that are created, the working environment and the types of skills developed. She cautioned that these expectations need to be measured against the trends in the mining sector and their potential to absorb unemployed youths and to design skills programmes that they desire.

Thirdly, she highlighted artisanal mining as a key occupation among young Africans in some mining communities and the importance of incorporating this reality in partnerships. She explained that traditional mines have not been able to absorb the numbers of unemployed youth that wish to participate in the sector. Therefore, many young people have taken up artisanal mining, because of its low barriers to entry and its potential to provide immediate financial relief. She stated, “This [artisanal mining] is a reality that is not going to change overnight. These young people’s needs, aspirations and expectations need to be part of the debate. Simply wishing them away will not work.”

Lastly, she listed some of the key elements of a partnership, such as the need to be cognisant of the local context in which they operate, not simply centring a single stakeholder and the need to balance power asymmetries without simply ignoring their existence.

The panel discussion is part of an ongoing series of policy debates on how a multi-stakeholder coalition can work together to achieve the SDGs. A wide range of perspectives were brought forth, but some of the main issues centred around the need to learn from the experiences of existing partnerships and the importance of advancing transparency and trust among different stakeholders.

By Zama Nkosi

Want to know more about the role of the private sector in trade and development? Get in touch with Zama: LinkedIn & @nkosiz

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ACP YPN at South-South & Triangular Entrepreneurship Forum

On 21-23 June, Sinouhe Monteiro, ACP YPN Entrepreneurship Expert, SDG10 and Founder of Ewala – the mobile money transfer service – presented at FINPORTUGAL, the International Forum and Business Fair for Entrepreneurs from Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries.

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Sinouhe Monteiro is Founder of Ewala and Expert at the African Caribbean and Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN). In 2015, Sinouhe decided to launch Ewala, the prepaid mobile phone recharging service provider, which is now being used globally in 140 countries. Ewala’s mission is to enable better mobile connectivity and they achieve this by connecting 500 operators worldwide. Innovating the world of airtime transfers has led to Sinouhe featuring in Forbes AfriqueJeuneAfrique, CNBC Africa, MoneystoreAfropean, Trends Tendance. Additionally, he has also won first place at the Microsoft innovation center’s startup program in 2016.

Through his expertise as Founder of Ewala, Sinouhe contributes to the work of ACP YPN as Expert on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The ACP YPN provides a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making processes at national, regional and international levels in 107 EU and ACP countries. The Network aims to ensure that all young professionals can benefit from equality of opportunity by promoting and facilitating the integration of the perspectives of ACP and EU youth in several key policy dialogues. All of ACP YPN’s activities and advocacy contribute to ensuring ‘responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels’ (target 16.7) in order to provide solutions for youth and institutions in our societies (SDG 16).

Contact & follow Sinouhe Monteiro viaLinkedIn or Twitter

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ACP YPN at EDD17

For the second time, the African Caribbean Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) was represented at the European Development Days (EDDs). Our ACP YPN Ambassadors advocated for youth issues on platforms with our partners: the COLEACP, the European Commission, the ACP Secretariat and the ADEPTADNEFORIM, and FTI Consulting. This was a unique opportunity for ACP YPN to interact with a wide range of experts, high-level policy officials, youth ambassadors and development policy stakeholders.

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This was an important continuation of ACP YPN’s debut at EDD16 to showcase ACP YPN’s commitment to ‘youth issues’ in line with Article 26 of the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement and SDG16 on ensuring ‘responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels’ (target 16.7).  Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Secretary General and SDG5 Expert, highlighted that “It was a great achievement for ACP YPN to lead a strong delegation at EDD17 with two stands and three panels, as well as endless engagement across a range of issues from youth and agriculture, to mining and diaspora.

Recalling the words of Yentyl Williams, Founder & President of ACP YPN, at EDD16 remains important today, “Going forward, it is essential that ACP YPN continue to be at the forefront of key policy debates, after all, we are the generation that will inherit the legacy of today’s policies, ranging from the EU-ACP partnership to the SDG framework. Beyond the two days of EDD, we must continue to work together in an inclusive manner if we are ever going to achieve all that these agendas promise.”

The ACP YPN delegation for EDD17 included:

1.     Yentyl Williams, Founder & President, ACP YPN

2.     Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Secretary General and Expert SDG5

3.     Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN Parliamentary and Diaspora Relations Advisor SDG16

4.     Zama Nkosi, ACP YPN Expert, Private Sector SDG17

5.     Caroline Kawria, ACP YPN Expert, Food Security SDG2

6.     Rachele Gianfanga, ACP YPN Migration & Sports Advisor SDG10

7.     June Paskalina Lacour, ACP YPN Assistant SDG16 & EDD17 Ambassador

8.     Emanuele Pallotta, ACP YPN Assistant SDG16

9.     Cyril France, ACP YPN EDD17 Ambassador 

10.  Yves-Laurent, ACP YPN Expert, Journalist

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ACP YPN on Labour provisions in EU-ACP EPAs

On 8th June 2017, Yentyl Williams, Founder and President of ACP YPN presented her new book chapter, “Labour standards in the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs): Weakening or strengthening the EU-ACP Cotonou provisions?” at the SOLIDAR Progressive Lab for Sustainable Development in the European Parliament. A copy of the book is available here.

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Abstract: Although the trade-labour nexus has received a lot of attention, the literature on the newer Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states concluded between 2014-2016 is still in its infancy. This article contributes to this literature by providing an analysis of the most recent EPAs with three African regions: the East African Community (EAC) in 2014, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2014 and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016. The empirical investigation based on analyses of the legal texts and participatory observation in EU-ACP stakeholder meetings shows that there is clear evidence of ACP exceptionalism in the EPAs, especially vis-à-vis labour provisions. Despite the weaker trade-labour nexus in the newer agreements, the upcoming negotiations of a post-Cotonou Agreement and the existing UN Agenda 2030 framework both provide opportunities to bring labour provisions back to the table.

 

Contact & follow Yentyl Williams via LinkedIn or Twitter

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ACP YPN at Friends of Europe Africa summit on ‘Building resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities’

On the 6th of June Caroline Kawira ACP YPN expert on Food & Security together with a rich panel drawn from the private sector, development organizations and regional bodies like the AU, spoke at the Friends of Europe Africa summit on ‘Building resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities’. Her contribution focused on youth in agriculture. She gave her views on ways to encourage uptake and from a practioner point of view, highlighted issues which in her view are pressing issues that needs to be tackled by the enabling bodies to improve youth participation in agriculture. Land, poor governance and underdevelopment in rural areas were seen as main barriers.

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She suggested:

  • To increase development in the rural areas
  • The need to develop a practical education system
  • Urge the need for land reform (or at least ways of enabling land access by the youth)
  • Advice on the stoppage of extractive private business
  • Asked for the increased of support to youths starting up by both the private sector and venture capitalists

She concluded by stating that this would support mindset change among the Youth. You can listen to her full intervention here

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ACP YPN feat. in Euractiv News

On 18th May 2017, Euractiv news featured Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Founder and President, following her presentation to the European Economic and Social Committee on the future of EU-ACP relations. The full article can be found here.

Yentyl_Euractiv.jpg

The article entitled, “ACP youth leader: The ‘EU bubble’ is not very multicultural” is based on an interview on the EU-ACP new generation trade agreements – the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) – as well as her experience as a Trinidadian-British young woman educated at the College of Europe and working with the EU and ACP institutions.

Contact & follow Yentyl Williams via LinkedIn or Twitter

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ACP YPN at EESC Post-Cotonou meeting

On 15-16th May 2017, Yentyl Williams ACP YPN President and Founder presented at the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) 28th meeting of ACP-EU economic and social interest groups on the panel on ‘The future of EU relations with the ACP group of countries’. The panel was chaired by Brenda King MBE, EESC rapporteur on post-Cotonou and the other panellists included, Geert Laporte, Deputy Director, European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), Chinedu Madichie, Board Member, African Diaspora Network Europe (ADNE), Steffie Neyens, Member of the ACP Working Party, Concord.

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Yentyl raised three main points:

Firstly, with regards to trade and regional integration, Yentyl asked whether the Economic Partnership Agreement’s (EPAs) engender the regional integration that would foster the structural transformation that ACP states seek? She highlighted that the EU and ACP states must engage in the constructive criticism that surrounds all EPA debates. For example, the EU and the ECOWAS, EAC and SADC regions have negotiated long and hard to get a goods only EPA agreement, which contrasts strongly from ‘comprehensive’ Caribbean EPA that includes services, intellectual property and public procurement amongst others. However,  many critics of the EPAs underline that these newer EPAs were concluded in order to safeguard African regional integration first and foremost, as the foundation for development. In this regard, she recalled the words of Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Commonwealth Secretary-General who aptly highlightedThe challenge that faces developing countries is not merely the challenge of economic development, but the fact that in failure lies the danger of returning to a new dependency – a new kind of colonialism – deriving from economic weakness.” (2014).

Secondly, on development cooperation, Yentyl recalled the critical work on Walter Rodney who identified the ‘development-underdevelopment’ dialectic in his seminal work on ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ (1972). She asked whether the EPAs are a continuation or an end to the development under-development dialectic and evoked the importance of understanding the current rejection of these agreements by Tanzania in East Africa and Nigeria in West Africa, amongst others. Moreover, she highlighted that these agreements are post-SDGs and may not be aligned with the universalism that the SDGs are based on. Thirdly, Yentyl invoked the relevance of discussing Brexit, which up until her presentation was not mentioned and remained the ‘elephant in the room’.

Yentyl concluded by underlining how ACP YPN is innovating the EU-ACP policy space by implementing the provisions of Article 26 Cotonou on youth issues, and recommended how EU-ACP relations can benefit innovating the structures that already exist:

1.     Establish a scholarship for 3 ACP students to complete the College of Europe Masters programme – similar scholarship exist for other regions but not the ACP region (!)

2.     Allocate a part of existing budget to finance implementing Article 26 Cotonou on youth cooperation – ACP YPN founded the Youth Forum at the EU ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and despite it’s institutionalization in the Assembly there have been no funds allocated to support young people to attend (!)

3.     Include youth organizations as formal members monitoring the provisions of international trade agreements at the level of the EESC – ACP YPN has advocated for this with the EESC, the European Parliament and is observer at the Cariforum-EU Joint Consultative Committee

About the EESC:

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organises meetings with the economic and social interest groups in the ACP-EU countries. This role was confirmed by the Cotonou Agreement, which mandated the EESC to organise consultative meetings and informal meetings between EU and ACP economic and social interest groups (Protocol No 1).

In accordance with the role entrusted to it by the Cotonou Agreement, every three years the EESC holds general meetings in Brussels bringing together economic and social interest group delegates from the 78 ACP countries and EESC members, along with representatives of the EU institutions, national economic and social councils, the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States, ACP and EU states’ diplomatic missions, NGOs, international organisations, international socio-occupational organisations and other stakeholders. Aside from these general meetings, regional seminars are organised in ACP regions on average once a year.

These general meetings in Brussels aim to factor the points of view of civil society into the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement.

Link to official photos here.

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ACP YPN at New Approach on Collective Security in Africa, Dakar, Senegal

On 16th May 2017, Tarila Marclint Ebiede, ACP YPN expert on peace and security and Research Fellow (PhD) at the University of Leuven, participated as an expert at a workshop on “New approaches to collective security” organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Peace and Security Centre of Competence in Sub Saharan Africa. The meeting was attended by experts drawn from Africa and Germany.

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Tarila discussed the challenges of sustainable peacebuilding in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region in the context of “why peace fails in post-conflict countries in Africa?”. Tarila discussed three key issues within this topic 1) understanding violent conflicts in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. 2) the amnesty and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. And 3) Instability since the implementation of an amnesty and DDR programme.

  • First, Tarila explained his research project at the University of Leuven’s Centre for Research on Peace and Development. This research project shows that there are multiple dimensions to armed conflicts in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. However, the Nigerian government focused mainly on one dimension, which is the armed militancy against the Nigerian government and oil industry in the region. This has informed the state response to conflict in the region. Hence, while the state peacebuilding policy focuses on armed militancy, other forms of conflicts continue to persist in local communities. This argument of the research is in Tarila’s published paper with African Security.
  • Second, Tarila explained that the application of an amnesty and DDR programme provided financial incentives for armed groups to participate in the peace process in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. However, these financial incentives increased the cost of the peace process. The Nigerian government is no longer able to bear the cost of the DDR programme due to formidable economic challenges. This has triggered new violence in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
  • Finally, Tarila discussed the new forms of violence in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. He explained that this renewed violence is caused by ex-combatants who are struggling to maintain the financial incentives in Nigeria’s DDR programme.

In summary, Tarila argued that a key lesson from Nigeria’s Niger Delta is that peacebuilding within new approaches to collective security in Africa should pay attention to the unintended consequences of incentive structures that are created as a result of financial benefits in peacebuilding programmes such as DDR. Tarila noted that peacebuilding policies such as DDR should not create a dependent relationship between armed groups and the state. Instead, peacebuilding should focus on addressing the various dimensions of armed conflicts as it affects conflict impacted communities.

Want to know more about peace & security?

Get in touch with Tarila Marclint Ebiede: @temarclint

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