The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), organisers of the Forum and celebrating 25 years, was widely recognised by delegates, among them African Ministers, heads of continental bodies, ACBF partners and Board members, private and public sector officials, for its contribution to helping implement the continent's development agenda. Participants unanimously agreed that capacity is still the missing link for the continent to successfully meet its socioeconomic transformation targets. And the ACBF has a central role to play to help meet these critical capacity needs.
Participating in the opening panel, Patrick Chinamasa, ACBF Governor for Zimbabwe and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, stressed the importance of developing one's own capacity to enable Africans to develop homegrown solutions. Taking on solutions developed by outsiders, he argued, who did not understand the context nor the environment of one's country as well as one does, will never lead to successful development.
Ownership is key because "carrying over agendas that are not yours is not sustainable" he said. Central to any successful development agenda was knowledge, skills and experience.
In her keynote address, Dr Hespina Rukato, former Deputy CEO of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), implored African governments to adopt a more integrated approach to socioeconomic development and transformational change, saying: "We must overcome the silo mentality that limits scale", adding, "we need to capitalise on existing synergies". On developing a sense of urgency in delivering continental capacity building initiatives, she said: "What's missing for me is Agenda 'now, now'. Where is the Agenda for today?"
During the close of the Forum, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, reiterated the importance of the continental institution and the role it plays, as the fourth major development institution in Africa, alongside the African Union, the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. "The ACBF has a clear comparative advantage" he said, "be it our experience, our understanding of realities on the ground and of course our expertise in how to build capacity. We have aligned our interventions with national and continental priorities and developed programmes to deal with the most urgent capacity gaps - not only development of skills, but retaining, harmonising and utilising those skills."
However, Nnadozie said that it was a two-way relationship and he called for greater collaboration with the member states, especially in the form of political and financial commitment. "The right hand and left hand need to help each other out in order to move forward."
Minister Chinamasa went on to remind participants that transformative change was not an event but a process. This message was made throughout the three-day Forum: capacity building is a long-term initiative and a collective responsibility. "It is now or never, we don't have the luxury to waste time anymore" said the Vice President of Zimbabwe, H.E. Phelekezela Mphoko, in a statement.