The West African Chapter of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank held its first general assembly in Abidjan from July 5-7 2007. The event was hosted by the national assembly of Côte d’Ivoire. Some fifty parliamentarians from 13 out of the 16 countries in the West Africa Region participated in the general assembly. Sierra Leone, Niger and Guinea were unable to send representatives due to conflicts in the own parliamentary calendars.
Following the initial launch of the chapter in June 2006 in Bamako and the installation of the national groups in the various countries, West African participants at the PNoWB annual conference in Cape Town, had decided meet in Abidjan toformalize the chapter with a Constitution, the adoption of an Action plan and election of a board. The opening ceremony was chaired by the Vice president of the national assembly of Côte d’Ivoire MrsBouabre Yvonne Abane.
Khalifa Sall, outgoing chair of the Chapter introduced "the Objectives of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and the Opportunities of the West African Chapter". He gave an overview of the organization PNoWB, its goals and members and emphasized the importance for parliamentarians to partners with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF for effective poverty reduction. Mr. Sall indicated that the World Bank provides a unique engagement opportunity to parliamentarians thereby creating a platform for access to information and knowledge through mechanisms and tools such as the field visits program for parliamentarians. He also encouraged parliamentarians to approach the World Bank offices in their countries in order to establish meaningful working relations.
The adoption of the Constitution
The project of constitution governing the chapter was drafted by its coordinator who inspired by PNoWB International Statutes and by Laws but also those East African Chapter of the network. The participants agreed on the need for remaining within the general framework of PNoWB international rules while tailoring the constitution to the chapter’s goals towards more effectiveness of its work. Hence the entry of Mauritania in the chapter though not part of the ECOWAS boundaries, but as an important player in the West Africa region was strongly appreciated. A commission chaired by Hon. Kenneth Dziraza of Ghana and Hon. Mamadou Djalo of Guinea Bissau elaborated the draft constitution that was adopted by all the participants.
b)The adoption of the Action plan
The Action plan is the baseline of the chapter. It is a summary of the ideas developed in Bamako about the main objectives of the Chapter. Hon. MercyAlmona Isei of Nigeria chaired the commission with as a reporter Hon OdetteSauyet Likikouet of Côte d’Ivoire.
Following an intense debate (during which representatives from 10 countries intervened) the following priorities for the chapter were outlined:
HIV/AIDS and Malaria,
A follow up sub committee of experts was put together to further define and finalize priorities for the chapter.
The majority of Parliamentarians agreed on a 2 year timeline for achieving the goals. During this 2 year period, the chapter aims at focusing on achieving its goals and activities, including fund raising to a wide range of donors.
In the end, the Moderator recommended that the Board and subcommittee Experts would consult in order to jointly finalize the chapter’s strategic plan.
Members also requested that PNoWB International provides an update to DFID on the functioning and achievements of the chapter for funds to be released.
c) The election of the board
The final step of the meeting of Abidjan was the election of the board since the executive board elected in Bamako was an interim body. Its main mission was to lead the chapter until a constitutive general assembly was held to formalize its organization.
A special effort was made when nominating board representatives to reflect the linguistic diversity of the West Africa region (English, French, Portuguese and Arabic are the 4 major languages) but also gender, 4 out of the 8 members of the board are women.
Adoptions of the strategic plan and by laws were followed by the election of a board comprised of 7 members:
Secretary General: Hon. Fernando Gomez, Guinee Bissau
Vice Secretary: Hon. Nana Mint Cheikhna , Mauritania
Treasurer: Hon. Appiah Ofori, Ghana
Vice Treasurer: Hon. Khadidiatou Diedhiou, Senegal 2 additional members of the board are:
Hon. Kuku Dorbor, Liberia
Hon. Paulin Tomadaga, Bénin
The newly elected President Hon. Mercy Almona Isei began her speech by thanking her peers. She committed herself to working for the growth and success of the chapter Parliamentarians paid tribute to the outgoing chair Khalifa Sall of Senegal and praised him for his dedication to the network and outstanding leadership since the chapter was created a year ago. Participating MPs also praised the Bank's support, both the regions' country directors and country teams who have funded all the participants' travel and the Paris based EXT Parliamentary team for coordinating the event and financially contributing. Parliamentarians also made a plea for an office in a francophone country to be preserved in order to ensure balance in knowledge sharing and activities both in Anglophone but also francophone countries within the boundaries of the chapters. This is especially relevant now that the organization is chaired by an MP from Nigeria.
II° The participation of the World Bank and the ADB
The World Bank as a privileged partner of the network, contributed substantively in the meeting. Staff from the Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania offices and the Paris based parliamentary unit attended the conference which was an opportunity for the Bank to present its re-engagement strategy in Cote d'Ivoire, and to explain the institution's overall mission. Mr. Ousmane Diagana, representative of the World Bank in Niger introduced the topic on "the World Bank and the Members of Parliaments: Common expectations and interests. ".
His presentation was followed by a very interesting debate. The interventions, questions and interpellations of the participants evolved around the following topics:
-Poverty reduction strategies -the role of members of Parliaments in the design of PRSPs
- The role of parliamentarians in budget’s oversight
- Capacity building for parliamentarians and the World Bank’s role
- Child beggars on the streets in West African capitals’ and World Bank’s efforts in curbing this pandemic
- Parliamentarians’ involvement in the Governance and anti corruption strategy.
Representatives from the World Bank provided thorough answers to these queries and confirmed once again the willingness of the institution at the highest level for engaging in a meaningful partnership with parliamentarians. Additionally The African Development Bank sent its regional representative who stressed the importance for the ADB to engage parliamentarians, and its strong willingness to partner with the PNoWB West Africa chapter as well following the outcome of the annual conference of the network attended by the President of the ADB along with the World Bank and IMF’s heads. Seeds for establishing a real partnership between the West African Chapter and the ABD have been planted
Two motions of gratitude were adopted. The first one to the intention of the authorities of Côte d’Ivoire for hosting the event and its outstanding hospitality; the second one was addressed to the World Bank for the support provided throughout the entire process to ensure the success of the conference
Parliamentary Network on the World Bank
West Africa Chapter Preamble
We, the Parliamentary network on the World Bank, West Africa Chapter,
conscious of the need to promote and respect democratic values, having the spirit of openness, transparency, independence, gender equity and taking into consideration the need for constructive partnership with the World Bank, IMF as well as bilateral, multilateral and others organisations including civil society and the private sector and academia do hereby give onto ourselves this constitution the 7th day of July 2007 CHAPTER 0NE:
Composition and Objectives
There shall be a West Africa Chapter of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank. Its membership will be open to national parliamentarians from the countries of the sub region.
The Chapter will work for PN0WB’s objectives:
To increase parliamentarians’ knowledge of the World Bank and other international organizations mission and operations.
To deepen parliamentarians’ understanding and influence on the Poverty Reduction strategy process and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
To promote a policy dialogue among parliamentarians and the country and regional offices of the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral organisations.
To mobilise parliamentarians to take concrete action that will reduce poverty.
Organisation and Structures
There shall be a Board of the West Africa Chapter which shall be responsible for the policy of the Chapter.
Each member country of the West Africa Chapter shall form a national group of parliamentarians to carry out activities of the Chapter within their country and elect a national representative.
There shall be an Annual General Meeting of the Regional Chapter at which any member of the Chapter can attend and speak but voting powers are restricted to the national representative ( or a nominated member) to the annual meeting.
a) The following members of the Chapter shall constitute the board and shall be elected for two years term renewable for further one term. They are:
b) Where in the course of tenure, a member of the board loses his seat in the national parliament or in case of resignation, a member of his national group would replace him until the next general assembly.
The Board shall appoint a Coordinator who shall be responsible for facilitating links and support for the national groups and for promoting appropriate region wide activities.
The West Africa Chapter will conduct itself according to the rules and principles governing Chapters established by the International Board of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank.
a) The Chapter will be expected to submit an annual progress report to the Board of PN0WB International detailing the activities of the past six months and the planned work of the next six months. The Report will include details of the Chapter membership and the governance structure of the Chapter. There will be an annual audited statement of all financial accounts for the past year as well as a budget for the next year.
The Chairman of the Chapter will be an Associate member of the International Board of PNoWB.
b) If the actions of any Chapter are deemed incompatible with the principles and objectives of PNoWB, affiliation to PNoWB can be terminated by the decision of the Board of PNoWB.
c) The West Africa Chapter shall conduct its business in a way as to give equal opportunity and involvement to those with francophone, lusophone anglophone and arabophone backgrounds.
d) The quorum of the board and the annual general meeting is 1/3.
e) The board may convene a special general meeting whenever necessary.
f) This constitution may be amended by the vote of 2/3 majority of members.
DONE THIS SEVENTH DAY OF JULY 2007 IN ABIDJAN
ON THE WORLD BANK
SUMMARY OF 06 – 07 2007
WORKSHOPS ON THE STRATEGIC PLAN and bi yearly PROGRAM
For African Parliamentarians, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are both a major stake and challenge they can only meet through the development of a Strategic Plan which is translated into a program that meets the needs of populations that by large live in extreme poverty.
1) - Strategic Plan
Parliamentarians should consider the expectations of populations, the World Bank and other Development partners; to be effective in their action, Parliamentarians must have knowledge and tools(Capacity Building), to identify the needs and challenges faced by the people they represent namely in the areas of health (HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Diabetes etc…), effective budget management and oversight (to better control it management at the level of the field), education (the training of our children, populations), agriculture and many other areas. 2) - Program over 2 years
Agreeing on a program sounds like another daunting challenge for Parliamentarians. At the end of a rich debate (during which representatives from 10 countries intervened) the following priorities were laid out
Malaria, first cause of mortality rate in our country;
The plenary suggested setting up a subcommittee of experts in charge of defining the program and outlining specific priorities.
The majority of Parliamentarians agreed on an average period of 2 years for the implementation of the program and the achievement of its goals. This timeframe will cover the goals’ identification, the development of programs and fund raising.
At this stage, the best option should be to follow recommendations from the Experts’ committee regarding all possible funding opportunities for the chapter, this is paramount for the success of the organization.
In the end, the Moderator recommended that the Board and Experts should jointly consult each other towards developing meaningful strategy.
She also recommended that national groups should seriously consider the general Assembly’s commitments develop programs in their respective Parliaments.
The Moderator then provided advice and recommendations on the next steps and way forward for the chapter.