CONFERENCE OF SPEAKERS & HEADS OF AFRICAN PARLIAMENTS (CoSAP) PHYSICAL CONFERENCE
‘Enhancing Africa’s Post-COVID Economic Recovery Through
Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
Monday 9th – Wednesday the 11th of May, 2022
1. The Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP) is a platform initiated by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the Speakers of Ethiopia, Prof. Mike Oquaye; Kenya, Hon. Tagesse Chaffo; Rwanda, H.E Donatille Mukabalisa; Senegal, H.E Moustapha Niasse; and former Speakers of Ghana, Hon. Speaker Justin Muturi; and South Africa, Hon. Thando Modise. It aims to facilitate increased deliberation, collaboration and cooperation between Speakers, Heads of Parliament and National Assemblies across Africa to address common challenges, devise joint solutions and mobilise collective action to advance Africa’s development.
2. CoSAP was officially launched on the 12th of October 2020 after three key meetings between founding Speakers which took place on 17th August 2020, 17th September 2020, and 12th October 2020.
3. Following the launch of CoSAP, the founding members initiated the African Speakers’ Debt Cancellation Initiative (DCCI). DCCI, an advocacy initiative, was
birthed as a means of establishing a cohesive pan-African parliamentary voice to support the global campaign advocating for Africa’s debt cancellation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also seeks to provide effective oversight regarding local and international policy interventions in combating the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. As Africa struggles to recover from the multifaceted effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the damage that it has wrought on our societies and economies, CoSAP recognises the crucial role that parliamentarians play as custodians of Africa’s respective democracies. As such, CoSAP is committed towards ensuring that Africa’s parliamentary leadership meaningfully address these challenges in a concerted and effective manner.
5. This informed the organisation of the first in-person CoSAP gathering of presiding officers under an indigenous pan-African platform of Speakers and Heads of Parliaments between the 9th & 11th of May 2022 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, Nigeria. The overarching theme of this CoSAP is “Enhancing Africa’s Post-COVID Economic Recovery Through Parliamentary Leadership.”
6. This inaugural CoSAP gathering has sought to achieve the following:
a. To collaboratively explore measures for catalysing an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery process for African countries in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
b. To provide a platform for discussion, dialogue, and action by Speakers and Heads of African parliaments to advocate for more effective approaches in Africa’s public financial and economic management; and
c. To develop collaborative strategies for tackling related issues of common concern and devise legislative interventions and solutions on a wider continental scale.
7. Participating speakers at this Conference included:
▪ Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Nigeria (Convener)
▪ Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Boughali, Algeria
▪ Rt. Hon. Cavage Yeguie Djibril, Cameroon represented
▪ Rt. Hon. Mohamed Ali Houmed, Djibouti
▪ Rt. Hon. Speaker Petros Mavimbela, Kingdom of Eswatini
▪ Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Ghana
▪ Rt. Hon. Catherine Gotani Hara, Malawi
▪ Rt. Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa, Rwanda
▪ Rt. Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumba, South Sudan
▪ Rt.Hon. Hamma Salam Ali Salem, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
▪ Rt. Hon. Delfim Neves, Sao Tome and Principe
▪ Rt. Hon. Moustapha Niasse, Sénégal represented
▪ Rt. Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa
▪ Rt. Hon. Jacob Francis Mudenda, Zimbabwe
8. The opening ceremony served as a platform to introduce the programme theme and for invited special guests to engage and deliberate on pertinent
focal areas, generate ideas on the issues and challenges presented and devise actionable solutions towards achieving expectations of the conference. It opened with a Welcome Address from the host for the event, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria and an opening speech by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, SAN.
9. The Keynote Address was provided by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina. He congratulated CoSAP for their vision and leadership, adding that the conference should be directed at hearing, feeling and responding to the challenges facing the people. He charged the Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments present to emerge from the conference with concrete solutions and legislative interventions. Dr. Adesina also advocated for the legislature to boost food production to reduce Africa’s reliance on food imports. He canvassed for the implementation of AfCFTA to encourage local production, regional trade, and global exports to ensure sustainable economic productivity and recovery.
10. There were also goodwill speeches from several key stakeholders, including the Speaker of the National Assembly of Djibouti and Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union (APU), Rt. Hon. Mohamed Ali Houmed; Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Jarvis Matiya; and a pre-recorded goodwill message from the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Martin
Chungong. The speeches expressed appreciation for CoSAP and its ideals as a platform, needed now more than ever, in helping Africa recover from the impact of COVID-19 through parliamentary leadership and diplomacy. They enjoined CoSAP to push measures such as debt relief, implementation of AfCFTA, development of resilience mechanisms through investments by member countries in health systems, education, infrastructure, research and technology, human capital development and gender equality to enhance growth and development.
PANEL DISCUSSIONS/PLENARY SESSIONS
11. The panel discussions and plenary sessions were framed around the following topics:
I. Africa’s Public Financial Management in the COVID-19 Era: Challenges, Opportunities & Way Forward.
II. Africa’s Debt Trap: Implications, Imperatives & Impact in the COVID-19 Era.
III. National Budgeting & Effective Legislative Oversight in the COVID-19 Era.
IV. Financing Africa’s Pandemic Response: Legislative Imperatives & Interventions.
V. Gender Inclusive Budgeting & Policy Planning in the COVID-19 Era.
VI. Investing in Human Capital Development: Legislative Priorities in the COVID-19 Era.
12. Resource persons were Country Director, World Bank Nigeria; Country Director, IMF; Country Representative for Nigeria, African Development Bank Nigeria; Country Representative, WHO; UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS; Resident Representative, UNDP.
13. Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments at CoSAP shared the following observations:
1. Increase in Unconstitutional Overthrow of Democratic Governments in Africa: There has been an increase in unconstitutional overthrow of democratic governments. Although most African countries do not support this, there has been little decisive action towards mitigation. Condemning coups without corresponding action achieves little. This problem requires collective agreement and bold action to deter coup d’états across the continent, which are a clear and present danger to our fragile democracies.
2. Unhealthy Reliance on External Creditors: There is unnecessary and unhealthy reliance on external financial institutions and donors by African countries for financing projects and programmes. There is a need for locally accessible financing and capacity building of local and indigenous entities.
3. Weakening of the Legislature: Relatedly, in some countries, the legislature has increasingly been seen as a lesser arm of government subservient to the Executive. This has affected the legislature’s ability to carry out its oversight activities. It has also led to a lack of synergy, collaboration, and information sharing between the Legislative and Executive arms of government in budget planning, development and implementation. This needs to be addressed for good governance, transparency and sustainable peace and development in our countries.
4. Africa’s Vulnerability to External Shocks: The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of African countries to shocks and external factors that have threatened their financial stability, health system functionality, infrastructure development, and created governance failures. It was also noted that Africa currently lacks the productive capacity to meet its food demands and is dependent on imports for major agricultural commodities. This exposes the continent to global shocks, as evidenced by the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict and its effect on Africa’s food security. A continent that cannot feed itself cannot lead itself. For Africa to lead in the 21st century, first it must learn to cater to its own needs, and legislative interventions should foster this.
5. Africa’s Rising Debt: The average debt-to-GDP ratio on the continent is extremely high and still rising. Revenue-to-GDP ratio is on the decline, impacting revenue-to-debt ratio. Following the impact of COVID-19 on government revenues, most African countries lack sufficient liquidity to service debts and are therefore at high risk of debt distress. Tackling this must be prioritized by African Speakers and Heads of Parliament.
6. The Pandemic’s Disruption to Human Capital Development: The pandemic has caused major disruptions, causing public health and economic challenges, food insecurity, and lack of access to drugs. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), it is estimated that Sub Saharan Africa needs $ 286 bn over the next 5 years to fight the pandemic and accelerate economic growth.
Relatedly, the pandemic led to the loss of an estimated 30 million jobs and pushed 26-36 million persons into extreme poverty, thereby aggravating Africa’s fiscal challenges. Parliamentary action is required to build economic resilience against future disruptions.
7. Gender Exclusion in Budget and Policy Planning: COVID-19 had a far more significant impact on women across the continent, both at formal and informal levels, with job losses for several in the informal sector. This exposed overwhelming gaps in general governance systems and national budgets that are not gender-inclusive and leave women and other marginalised groups vulnerable at times of crises. Concrete legislative interventions must be put in place to foster gender inclusiveness across the continent.
14. Based on these observations, the Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments made the following recommendations:
1. Strong punitive measures for unconstitutional overthrow of governments: African parliaments must stand together to resist military coups in all parts of the continent and jointly advocate for more punitive measures, collectively as defenders of our democracies.
2. Enact debt management legislation: African countries should institutionalise mandatory regular publication of public debt reports. This should also be legislated requiring approval from legislature on any borrowing, as well as limits and properly documented plans for borrowing tied to specific projects
and programmes. African parliamentary leadership must ensure proper oversight to proactively reduce Africa’s debt profile.
3. Mitigate aggravation of food insecurity: African parliamentary leadership should ensure enhanced agricultural productivity and building of internal capacity for food production to eliminate Africa’s import dependency. Therefore, legislation is required to enhance farmers’ access to inputs and credit.
4. Support expansion of social protection and safety nets to achieve equitable growth: There is a need to develop mechanisms to increase coverage and scope of social protection to aid citizens who live in poverty, especially those affected by the recent pandemic. Legislative interventions are needed to ensure that across our continent, we cater to the needs of the poorest and weakest. This should also include the provision of stimulus packages to enable MSMEs recover from adverse effects of economic shocks.
5. Build a resilient health defense system for the next pandemic: Develop quality health care and pharmaceutical industries and infrastructure for domestic production of health products. Parliaments must legislate to foster advancement of healthcare technology through proper budgetary allocation.
6. Strengthen Parliaments for effective oversight: Legislation needs to be put in place to strengthen African parliaments for effective oversight responsibilities. Thus, parliamentary exchange programs must be facilitated across the continent to foster shared learning.
7. Accelerate regional integration for post-pandemic recovery: Support for operationalisation of AfCFTA to develop competitive regional and global value
chains. Enhance domestic resource mobilisation, including effective public-private partnership frameworks for infrastructure delivery.
8. Accelerate demand for debt cancellation: Debt cancellation from international financial institutions is required to enable African countries to invest more revenue towards social protection programs. CoSAP should press for this as a collective entity.
9. Build local industrial capacity: There is a need to build internal capacity and local industries to enable local production and processing of raw materials for export.
10. Build resilience against economic shocks: There is a need for African economies to build resilience against external and internal shocks, eliminating dependency on external institutions, lenders and grantors.
11. Resource mobilisation: There is a need for parliaments to create legislation that support mobilisation of domestic revenues by safeguarding resource revenues, expanding tax base, rationalising tax incentives, simplifying tax filing, improving compliance strategies, and enhancing automation.
12. Public-private partnerships should be encouraged for enhanced economic growth: Parliaments should work with the Executive to ensure that bureaucratic processes that stifle public-private partnerships are reduced and, where possible, removed totally to enhance economic growth across the continent.
13. Create enabling environment for gender, youth and marginalised groups inclusivity: Legislation that promotes inclusivity for women, youth and
marginalised groups is necessary for progress across the continent. Parliamentary leadership should work towards implementing this through budgeting and legislation.
14. Improve legislation for Human Capital Development: Governments and multilateral agencies should accelerate investments in human capital development, focusing on key areas such as healthcare, education, and labour force participation. CoSAP should ensure adequate budgeting provision to enable the above.
15. Strengthen and ensure effectiveness of African Inter-parliamentary Institutions: Africa’s inter-parliamentary institutions are critical for the strengthening, effectiveness and impact of parliaments across Africa. To this effect, CoSAP should proactively seek to foster inter-parliamentary exchange and encourage existing inter-parliamentary institutions such as the Pan-African Parliament to rise to the responsibility of fostering enhanced inter-parliamentary cooperation by, for example, ensuring that it meets in accordance with its constitution and makes decisions that align with the letter and spirit of the purpose for which it was created in Africa’s interest.
16. It was decided that CoSAP will function as a standing committee going forward. The Technical Working Group was expanded to cover all participating countries and will be charged to come up with making recommendations on how CoSAP will be structured to achieve the goals it has set. The Technical Working Group will report to the Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments, after which they will convene another meeting to agree on next steps.
15. Agreed to this day in Abuja, Nigeria, on the 10th of May 2022 at the National Assembly Complex by the following participating Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments:
1. Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Nigeria (Convener)
2. Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Boughali, Algeria
3. Rt. Hon. Cavage Yeguie Djibril, Cameroon
4. Rt. Hon. Mohamed Ali Houmed, Djibouti
5. Rt. Hon. Speaker Petros Mavimbela, Kingdom of Eswatini
6. Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Ghana
7. Rt. Hon. Catherine Gotani Hara, Malawi
8. Rt. Hon. Donatille Mukabalisa, Rwanda
9. Rt. Hon. Hamma Salam Ali Salem, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic
10. Rt. Hon. Delfim Neves, Sao Tome and Principe
11. Rt. Hon. Moustapha Niasse, Sénégal
12. Rt. Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa
13. Rt. Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumba, South Sudan
14. Rt. Hon. Jacob Francis Mudenda, Zimbabwe