Now a Movement.
African Consensus is a fresh economic paradigm for sustainable development built on practical experiences across the African continent together with shared experiences from other regions facing similar challenges. It merges the pioneering efforts of civil society in such areas as renewable energy, community finance and empowerment, organic agriculture and water resource management, environmental and endangered species protection coupled with the pragmatic experiences of business and finance required to scale these efforts into viable economic models. Seeking a pragmatic path for development, it emphasizes the importance of heritage, cultural and identity protection with the need for economic advancement.
African Consensus Forum will be an annual event chaired by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete to convene multi-stakeholders from civil society, government, business and finance. It will outline major challenges of development and present a constellation of concrete experiences, drawing a pathway of pragmatic solutions that are economically viable and scalable. The annual meeting will initially be held in Dar Es Salaam with plans for breakout meetings alternating in the five regional zones during the year
African Consensus Crisis Prevention Center is an anticipated outcome of the Africa Consensus Forum viewing crisis of violence often arising over allocation of resources and resource benefits. African Consensus Forum will seek to anticipate crisis situations and offer a second track dialogue process toward economic solutions to prevent crisis. The Center’s work will be hosted by the Secretariat. It should coordinate efforts with those ongoing in the Africa Union and other initiatives active on the continent.

African Consensus Evolution – Brief History

The African Consensus concept emerged during the 2011 World Social Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. Drafting of the African Consensus Resolution was undertaken by NGO leaders working throughout the event (late January and throughout February 2011). Key spokespersons of the process were West African celebrity rapper Didier Awadi who is known for his outspoken activism, and Alioune Tine who has been a peace mediator in both Darfur and Cote Ivory. Leaders of the African branch of the World Social Forum were also deeply involved in the process.

Laurence Brahm was invited by these activists to help articulate the concepts and draft the original African Consensus Declaration that was tabled before the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights NGO Forum two months later. The African Consensus Declaration that was adopted by African Commission for Human and People's Rights NGO Forum in Gambia, in April 2011.

The African Economic Commission picked up on the ideas in the declaration and held a drafting session in October 2011 to draft the "African Consensus Statement to Rio+20". It was presented at Rio+20 during the conference summer 2012, incorporating the vision into the ideas of inclusive sustainability promoted by the UN system.

The two documents – “African Consensus Declaration” and the “African Consensus Statement to Rio+20” -- help to construct the economic paradigm by building the body of internationally recognized documentation.

In summer 2014, Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete summoned Laurence Brahm (the original drafter of the African Consensus Declaration) together with John Masuka (Tanzania’s “father of inclusive finance”) to the northern State House in Dodoma. There President Kikwete explained his own intention to convene the African Consensus Forum as a multi-stakeholder process between civil society, business-finance and government. Kikwete was one of the original conveners of the Helsinki Process, in his previous role as Tanzania’s Foreign Minister. The Helsinki Process calls for multi-stakeholder participation in resolving political and leadership challenges. By convening the African Consensus Forum as an extension of the Helsinki Process, Kikwete extended that process from the realm of governance to economics. The Uongozi Institute, a leadership organization that is an outcome of the original Helsinki Process, is the body where the African Consensus Institute is to be located. Expectations are for the African Consensus to be an annual event that convenes each year in early December.

African Consensus - a Fresh Economic Paradigm

African Consensus is a fresh economic paradigm articulating three core principles:
1) Protect ethnic diversity, indigenous identity, endangered species and environment;
2) Through community empowerment involving local financing for sustainable and socially-responsible businesses
3) Prioritizing environmental protection and community advancement.
African Consensus has three core rights:
1) The right to ethnic diversity
2) The right to culturally sustainable development
3) The right to water, food security and the protection of our natural environment.

African Consensus can be a framework for preventing violence and terrorism, which are often rooted in both economic and social marginalization of people from different identity groups.

Core Themes and Principles

African Consensus will be built upon the pan-African visions articulated by Mwalimu Julius K Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah, P.C, carrying them into the current global context and need for a fresh economic paradigm and new financial architecture for the developing word as we face the challenges of climate change and diminishing resources. It will adopt the multi-stakeholder approach of the Helsinki Process as convened by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and Finland’s former President and Nobel Peace Laureate Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari, extending the Helsinki Process from politics and governance into the realms of economics, business and finance.

Foundation Documents

African Consensus is established as an economic paradigm based on two documents:
1)The African Consensus Declaration” adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights NGO Forum convened in Banjul, Gambia, April 2011;
2)The African Consensus Statement to Rio+20” submitted by the Economic Commission on Africa jointly with the African Union, African Development Bank, UN ECOSOC, UNDEP and UNEP to the Rio+20 conference in Brazil, July 2012.

Starting from the basis of these two documents African Consensus is an evolving economic paradigm to be built upon during future African Consensus Forum meetings where multi-stakeholders in the African continent: civil society, business, finance, and government will convene each year with regional break-out meetings throughout each year to articulate the aspirations and pathways to African development based on pragmatism and experiences shared between stakeholders.

The African Consensus Forum “Green-print” will be the annual outcome document of each African Consensus Forum to serve as a green growth blueprint of development and a continuing reference of best practices articulated by the stakeholders each year.

African Consensus Declaration

Forum de participation des ONG à la
Commission africaine des droits de l'Homme et des Peuples

Déclaration de sur le Consensus africain

Le Forum des ONG de participation à la 49ème session de la Commission africaine des droits de l'Homme et des Peuples considère que
Au regard du besoin d’un nouveau cadre économique et financier et du fait que le Consensus africain n’est établi ni sur un modèle, ni sur une théorie économique, qu'il s’agit de procéder à un examen intéressé du savoir faire local et des bonnes pratiques qui ont fourni des réponses opérationnelles à des défis de développement en Afrique.
Considérant que le Consensus africain est basé sur la préservation de la diversité, le droit à un développement culturel durable et le droit à l'eau ;
Considérant les précédentes résolutions de la Commission africaine des droits de l'Homme et des Peuples en matières de droits économiques, culturels et sociaux et les travaux de son Groupe de travail ainsi que sur le droit des Peuples autochtones ;
Reconnaissant, le Consensus africain comme un paradigme de développement économique reposant sur trois principes de base:
1. Préserver la diversité des peuples dans un cadre national et l’identité locale, la culture, les traditions et l’héritage du passé africain ;
2. Construire ses propres plateformes pour un développement économique durable;
3. Travailler en faveur d’une amélioration effective des besoins basiques dont l’éducation et la santé tout en privilégiant la protection de la nature.
En adéquation avec les principes du droit internationale et régional sur les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels et sur le droit au Développement, de même que celui des Peuples, le Forum de participation des ONG, soutien le principe de l'initiative du Consensus africain dans les termes de la présente déclaration.
Fait à Banjul, le 27 avril 2011

African Consensus Declaration

As presented to and adopted as a declaration on 27 April 2011, by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights NGO Forum in Banjul, Gambia
Preamble: The African Inspiration
We need a fresh economic and financial framework. for our planet to survive current man made crises, arising from over-distorted emphasis on blind consumerism and resource misuse. Despite tremendous strides forward, the past 20 years of so-called global prosperity has still left more than 40 percent of the world’s population living in poverty and one sixth of our planet living in extreme poverty. This pattern of development has created greater gaps between rich and poor. This economic imbalance is caused by distortions in our global trading and financial system, re-enforced by international financial institutions, which often represent narrow entrenched interests. Positive change will only occur by lifting more people out from poverty and narrowing gaps between those who have and those who don’t. The answers will not come from grand theoretic models for development, but rather from local economic solutions based on actual conditions.
The continent of Africa possesses some of the richest ethnic and bio-diversity remaining on our planet. Yet both exist in precarious danger of imminent destruction, juxtaposed against economic models driven by globalized industrialization and consumption-driven growth, leading to wreckless resource extrapolation, impairing our environment. However, all across Africa these challenges are being met head-on by a diverse group of regional leaders, within both government and NGOs, people’s and social action movements, together with individual activists and social entrepreneurs. Each in their own way, are pioneering far reaching solutions to sustainable economics. These efforts include: micro-finance and micro-business, social and village entrepreneurship, localized health care and education, cultural heritage and environmental protection.
Across Africa creative approaches are arising at the grass roots to protect and assure both cultural and environmental sustainability. These efforts collectively are forging the basis of sound economic paradigms that can protect ethnicity, while fostering the healthy evolution of culture. These organic programs make Africa shine as an inspiring symbol of local responses to global predicament. Collectively these diversified approaches have become the African Consensus.
Article I: Three Principles of the African Consensus
The African Consensus is not established on any one model or economic theory. Rather it is drawn from collective experiences across the continent where local knowledge has proved successful in creating pragmatic solutions to development challenges.

The African Consensus presents a fresh economic development paradigm built upon three core principles:

1) Preserving ethnic diversity and indigenous identity, culture, traditions and heritage;
2) Through building self-sustainable economic platforms and business models based on local realities to alleviate poverty through self-empowering skill transfer;
3) That in turn are socially responsible and seek to improve basic human needs such as education, and medical care, while prioritizing environmental protection.
In developing countries (and even in highly developed countries) ethnic and socially marginalized groups require the tools of empowerment to achieve their sustainable and equitable development. As an economic paradigm, African Consensus calls for pragmatic economic, financial and educational approaches to give them these tools.
Article II – African Consensus Fundamental Development Rights
The African Consensus seeks to protect three fundamental development rights:
1) The Right to Ethnic Diversity and Local Identity
Ethnic diversity is the richness of humanity. The preservation of each ethnic group’s culture, heritage and identity, is an inalienable human right. We must without equivocation uphold this right.
Each ethnic group has the right to its own individual and local identity and the self-determination of that identity. They know how best to evolve their own culture, heritage and ethnicity. Such identification with a collective group is as important as its economic growth. Both are needed equally. The quality of life cannot always be measured by the quantification of material ends alone. It follows therefore that levels of industrial output and consumption are insufficient in themselves as the measure of a people’s happiness. When a people’s identity is assaulted they may in a state of duress turn toward extremism.
2) The Right to Cultural Sustainable Development
All culture and heritage requires an economic base upon which to flourish. Without an economic base ethnic identity can easily be lost. Ethnic diversity can be preserved and protected through rational economic platforms, based on local and indigenous needs. Likewise, cultural sustainability cannot be achieved without sustainable economic growth. To achieve rational economic platforms improvements in education, medical and vocational skills are prerequisite. Self-sustainability can be facilitated with micro-financing and vocational skills to permit local people to establish their own enterprises in a manner consistent with their traditional economic, political and social structures.
3) The Right to Give Our Children Water
Climate change threatens water supplies to all life forms. Increasing desertification has made this problem particularly acute across Africa. Historically, many civilizations fell, not due to stock price fluctuations, but lack of water. Water security will effect industry and financial markets, in turn social stability, and even wars. If we cannot save our environment, our planet will be destroyed, and our children will be left with nothing. We can give our children money to spend. But can we give our children water to drink? Our children have the right to drink water.
Article III - African Consensus as a Framework for Promoting Non-Violence
Social violence and terrorism are not the result of fundamental religious beliefs as characterized in western mainstream media. People turn to extreme measures when they have no outlet to vent their frustration over conditions of poverty, ethnic marginalization, or both. Experience shows that when the marginalized have no outlets, continually frustrated, their potential for turning to extremism in various forms increases. Ethnic violence often arises from competition to control scarce resources. The problems associated with the alienation of ethnic groups must be addressed at its root cause, through economic empowerment, education, healthcare, and returning to people what is theirs, recognition of their own individual diversity, identity and self-respect. Otherwise dissent and strife will not go away, regardless of how sophisticated the military technology and social re-engineering theories of constituent states.
Article IV - Establishing an African Consensus Institute
Founded on the principles of African Consensus, the African Consensus Institute is to be established as a non-government organization. The Institute will promote the African Consensus core principles and fundamental rights through regional cooperation between stakeholders, and engage in second track diplomacy efforts addressing ethnic, development and environmental issues.
Article V - African Consensus as a New Economic Paradigm
In our era of measuring success by industrial growth and consumption alone, we have ignored traditional systems of wisdom which prioritize environmental balance and quality of life. Nowhere else is this better expressed than in the rhythm and life of traditional African society. This way of life is a repository of knowledge on how to preserve our environment and give society order. But we have largely ignored traditional knowledge in favor of imported economic models, which are often unconnected to realities on the African continent. African Consensus seeks to draw upon these values in establishing an economic development approach that suits the realities of Africa. It articulates as an economic paradigm the successes of civil society and the informal sector in addressing economic and social predicament. It calls upon these successes to be recognized not as an alternative economic approach, but as a mainstream economic model.
Consistent with the principles concerning the right of development, social and economic rights and the rights of peoples set forth in the African Charter on People’s and Human Rights, we submit this resolution to the African Commission. We hereby request that the African Commission adopt this resolution submitted by the NGO Forum as a resolution of its own and a blueprint for economic development for the continent.
Adopted as a declaration by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights NGO Forum, Banjul, Gambia, April 27, 2011