The Theme for the First Africa Legislative Summit was “Emerging Democracies in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities”. The event was organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) in collaboration with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), Africa Business Round Table and the Parliamentary Centre of Canada.
BACKGROUND TO THE SUMMIT
The Africa Legislative Summit is being instituted as a medium for legislators and stakeholders to deliberate on current issues and developments relating to the effective functioning of African parliaments, national economies and democracies. The Summit has become an imperative in view of the important observation made by Nigeria’s Senate President on April 30th, 2013, to the effect that “there is very little going on in forging bilateral inter-parliamentary exchanges at the continental level with the capacity to foster interactions that could bring together the legislature, executive, academic and private sector agencies and agents to share ideas and experiences with outcomes of strengthening both structures of democracy and the national economies”.
The Forum was, therefore entirely dedicated to bringing together at continental level Legislators, Academia, Business Leaders and Civil Society to exchange ideas on how to strengthen emerging democracies and national economies and the crucial role that Parliaments played in this important task.
The Summit recognised the important role that Parliaments play in good governance and development. Parliament represents citizens, shape legislation, oversee and hold the executive accountable. Yet, parliaments, especially those in emerging democracies, were not always effective in carrying out these core functions.
The Summit tasked itself to address some of the crucial issues that related to emerging Legislatures in Africa. Among them were expectations of voters and how these measured up against the reality of Parliament representation, legislative oversight and its constraints and accountability in Parliamentary administration.
A major theme at the Summit was “peace, security, democracy and development”.
The following were the major objectives for the Summit: Thus, the Africa Legislative Summit was designed to be useful and productive in terms of its significant contribution to the advancement of parliamentary practice and deepening of democracy on the African continent. The participants interacted with resource persons, worked together in parallel sessions and identified good practices. We exchanged experiences and came up with solutions that could be put into practice in the various parliaments.
The Parliament of Zimbabwe is, therefore, expected to decide whether or not it supports the establishment of the Legislative Forums as unanimously recommended by the inaugural Summit. The delegates who attended were from 34 African Countries.