Africa Partnership Forum. Background information
The Africa Partnership Forum (APF) was founded in accordance with a resolution taken at the 2003 G8 summit in Evian in support of expanding dialogue on issues of sustainable development for Africa by involving more African countries in the dialogue process, as well as countries not belonging to the G8 donor states, and leading financial and economic organisations.
The inaugural sitting of the APF in the new 'expanded dialogue' format took place in Paris in November 2003. Those taking part included the G8 leaders' personal representatives for Africa, and also representatives of the leaders of other donor countries providing the continent with aid of at least 100 million US dollars per year (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden), representatives of African countries belonging to the Executive Committee of NEPAD, representatives of the UN Secretary General, management representatives from the IMF, World Bank, OECD and WTO, the presidents of the EU and African Union commissions, and managers from the African Development Bank and seven leading African subregional organisations: the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Sahel and Sahara States Committee (CEN-SAD).
In Paris, the Forum's 'fundamental document' was passed by consensus. This document states that all the participants of the inaugural sitting, as mentioned above, are members of the APF, and that a consensus decision is required for admission of new Forum members.
The objective of the Forum is to facilitate exchange of information between partners in development and mobilisation of international efforts to support the New Partnership for Africa's Development programme (NEPAD). The practical work of the APF focusses on the UN's Millennium Development Goals and existing international obligations for support of NEPAD.
The Forum's organisational plan envisages four co-chairmen with responsibility for the Forum's work – one each from the African and industrially developed countries, and also one each from the G8 president country and the African Union president country (on an annual rotation basis). APF sittings take place twice a year (one of them in Africa).
The APF's 'fundamental document' specifically states that no new bureaucratic structures are to be created within the Forum's framework. Their absence is to be compensated for through attraction of analytical and other support from APF participants.
Based on the results of the Forum's first 18 months of activity, a report on the APF's work was to be prepared within the Forum's framework. One important moment was the agreement that while participating in the Forum, the G8 also maintains its own established format for interaction with Africa.
The next working sitting of the Forum took place in Maputo (Mozambique) in April 2004, and was dedicated to such priority issues as NEPAD implementation, regional stability, combating HIV/AIDS, education, economic growth, and food security. The discussion saw positive progress in ensuring realisation of NEPAD, including with regard to practical setup of the activities of the African Peer Review Mechanism, and the importance of provision of international assistance for the continent was emphasised. It was also stressed that African states will not be able to reach the Millennium Development Goals without a significant increase in resource flows into Africa – both official development aid and also private investment. However, no bills on allocation of additional funds for regional needs were drawn up.
The third meeting of the APF was held in Washington in October 2004. Exchanges of opinions here centred on issues of peace and security, agricultural and food-related themes, as well as matters connected with supporting the private sector in African countries. No major new resolutions on partnership with Africa were adopted. The main intent of the discussion was to develop agreed approaches to issues of international assistance for the continent. Outside the APF framework, in Washington an agreement was reached on revival of the full-scale independent activities of the group of the G8 leaders' personal representatives for Africa, with the goal of preparing a progress report on the realisation of the G8 Action Plan for Africa ahead of the 2005 summit at Gleneagles.
At the fourth meeting in Abuja (Nigeria), the discussion centred on four core issues: the NEPAD progress report; the G8 Action Plan for Africa and Commission for Africa reports; peacekeeping and security; mutual fulfilment of obligations and the future role of the APF.
The fifth meeting of the APF took place in London on 4-5 October 2005, with participants' attention focussed on the following issues: role of the Africa Partnership Forum; the APF Joint Action Plan; fulfilment of obligations by both the international community and the African countries; perspectives for African development financing.
At the Gleneagles summit the G8 leaders spoke in support of a more effective APF. Therefore, in London in October 2005 updated working regulations for the Forum were approved, envisaging APF sittings taking place twice per year: one in Africa in April and one in October in the G8 president country. Also adopted was a resolution on creation of a compact Executive Secretariat, charged with coordinating the activities of the donor part of the APF's membership (the secretariat is based at OECD headquarters and financed through voluntary contributions from APF member countries).
At the next meeting of the APF in Maputo (Mozambique) in May 2006, the discussion centred on such important themes as boosting agriculture, developing infrastructure, combating HIV/AIDS in Africa, and also future work on the draft Joint APF Action Plan.