By Benjamin Opoku Aryeh
Senior Programs Officer, Parliamentary Network Africa

The recent Pan-Africa Parliament CSO Forum, organized May 19 2023, by the Center for Human Rights in Midrand, South Africa, in collaboration with the Pan-African Parliament, witnessed a remarkable convergence of voices focused on the theme “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”.

This event brought together passionate civil society organizations (CSOs) and esteemed members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to engage in meaningful discussions, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and collective action to address the challenges facing Africa. The forum provided a platform for diverse stakeholders to exchange ideas, advocate for change, and promote Africa’s democratic aspirations.

What issues were discussed?

Speakers took turns to present their ideas and recommendations on how the two actors-PAP and CSOs – can work together to achieve the long-term goals.

CSOs: The Driving Force for Change

The forum’s observations revealed the unwavering dedication of CSOs across Africa to make a difference. Their passionate desire to be heard and included in the decision-making process underscores their commitment to supporting Africa’s transformative agenda. Since its establishment in 2018, the Pan-African Parliament has shown openness to collaborating with CSOs, recognizing their invaluable contributions. Building on this positive momentum, it is imperative to rally behind CSOs and support their engagement in shaping Africa’s future.

Empowering the Pan-African Parliament

To harness the full potential of the Pan-African Parliament as a legislative body, member states must empower it by providing adequate resources and granting it full legislative authority. Strengthening the institutional framework of the PAP will enable it to implement decisions effectively, contributing to tangible changes that benefit the people of Africa. This call for action emphasizes the need for a collective effort to ensure that the Pan-African Parliament can fulfil its crucial role in advancing Africa’s democratic agenda.

Collaboration for Positive Change

The forum underscored the importance of collaboration between the Pan-African Parliament and CSOs to achieve transformative outcomes. These two entities must work hand in hand to amplify their impact and drive positive change throughout Africa. It is crucial to urge the African Union to continue its commitment to supporting CSOs and creating platforms for collaboration and dialogue. Doing so will foster a robust environment that facilitates effective cooperation between the Pan-African Parliament and CSOs, leading to sustainable progress.

Addressing Root Challenges

While the challenges faced by Africa are well known, the forum highlighted the need to identify the root causes of these issues and take decisive action to address them. Participants recognized that civil society provides the necessary impetus for the Pan-African Parliament to achieve legislative impact. Thus, fostering a close partnership between CSOs and the PAP is essential for generating effective solutions and implementing them at both the regional and national levels.

The Role of National Parliaments

National parliaments play a critical role in addressing the challenges Africa faces. It is therefore imperative for them to actively engage in finding solutions and supporting the efforts of the Pan-African Parliament and CSOs. Collaborating and coordinating their actions can help national parliaments to contribute to the comprehensive and sustainable development of the continent.

Looking Ahead

The Pan-Africa Parliament CSO Forum concluded with a commitment to reconvene in August to deliberate on the actions and recommendations arising from the discussions. This forthcoming session will provide an opportunity for committees to outline steps they have taken or plan to take in addressing the identified challenges. It is an exciting prospect that underlines the dedication of participants to follow through on the momentum generated during the forum.


The Pan-Africa Parliament CSO Forum served as an essential platform for fostering collaboration, dialogue, and shared responsibility among stakeholders invested in Africa’s progress.
The African Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations Network (APMON) is privileged to be part of the efforts towards supporting the Pan-African Parliament to become more transparent, allow citizens to participate in their work, and provide mechanisms for accountability.

Recognizing the critical role of CSOs and empowering the Pan-African Parliament will help Africa to realize its aspirations for peace and democratic governance.

By Benjamin Opoku Aryeh
Senior Programs Officer, Parliamentary Network Africa

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