Malabo, Equatorial Guinea – Parliamentarians from the member states of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) met last week to debate the role of African politicians in tackling issues of land ownership, food sovereignty and the scale and impact of recent Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) in Central African land and water.
The two-day conference, which is the third in a series of regional meetings of parliamentarians (previous meetings were held in Cotonou last October, and Kigali in April), was held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, and was organised by the Pan African Parliament, the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), and Future Agricultures Consortium among others.
FDI in agriculture is key to achieving food security on the continent. As private investors’ interest in African agriculture grows, African states need strong policy and legal frameworks in order to benefit from it: both in order to ensure that local people’s land, water and other natural resource rights are protected, and to provide a secure environment for private investments. Central to this debate is whether parliamentarians are sufficiently informed and equipped to elaborate clear public policies that benefit regional and national economies without displacing rural communities and their livelihoods.
The conference included a session on the issue of Lake Chad, at the centre of cooperation between AWEPA and CEMAC-P. Alongside the conference, a one-day follow-up meeting about Lake Chad was held with the parliamentarians of CEMAC-P, other representatives of the regions and experts.
The next regional meeting is planned for Johannesburg in 2014. AWEPA and CEMAC-P have been cooperating since 2012 within the framework of a programme entitled “Strengthening regional parliaments to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs)” supported by the Swedish international development agency (Sida).