By Reinhard Jacobsen
BRUSSELS (IDN) – The African, Caribbean and Pacific Information Centre for South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SS&TrC) has been formally established in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. The Centre is a gift of President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the government and the people of the country in Central Africa, to the people and the ACP Group of 79 member states.
When the Centre was established on August 9, less than a year after it was unveiled on October 4, 2018, President Obiang referred to this inauguration as “historical” and “the most salient token of Southern peoples and countries’ solidarity that is aimed at enhancing their respective autonomy and support their efforts to achieve the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foreseen in the 2030 Agenda.
ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick I. Gomes described the institution as “truly South-South Cooperation in Action”. The SS&TrC in an African region should be “a stimulus for comparable presence in the Caribbean and Pacific”, he told IDN.
The ACP, an organisation created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975 comprises 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific who are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the “ACP-EU Partnership Agreement”.
Dr. Gomes is encouraging ACP Liaison Units and Internet Platforms that will focus on specific SDGs. “These can be on food and nutrition security or ocean governance in the Caribbean and Pacific respectively. We appeal to countries to emulate the gift by Equatorial Guinea.”
Though the Malabo Information Centre for SS&TrC is unique by itself, the ACP Group from its very beginning has engaged in South-South and Triangular Cooperation between its member states, in addition to North-South Cooperation, by the Lomé and Cotonou Agreements, with Europe.
According to Dr Gomes, the recognition by ACP Heads of State and Government of the role and active contribution of South-South and Triangular Cooperation to capacity building, through the sharing of development experiences, was strongly advocated at the 7th Summit held in Sipopo, Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
It was in the Sipopo Declaration, inspired by President Obiang, that ACP leaders called for the establishment of an organisation for South-South Cooperation. That call became a reality with his offer in October 2016 to host the ACP Centre in Equatorial Guinea.
President Obiang’s response was not in words alone but also in deeds, and has been translated now into a Centre with staff, facilities, information services and collaboration with international organisations, including the United Nations.
While the signing ceremony on August 9 demonstrated the ACP’s continuing political support for the Centre, considerable work has taken place along the way.
With the appointment of the Head of the Centre, expected in October 2019, a major task will be to deepen partnerships on best practices in development project design, including the ACP Secretariat’s South-South Knowledge Exchange Programme. This resulted from the 2016 Symposium on Integrated rural development and how to strengthen women and youth empowerment through job creation and entrepreneurship.
Also forging and strengthening partnerships is another important area that will build on the experiences of other stakeholders and bring together relevant synergies.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), the Commonwealth, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and Brazil among others, are partnering with the ACP Group in implementing various projects on South-South Cooperation.
Particularly significant is the agreement with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) signed in 2016 that enables us to embark on mutually beneficial areas of cooperation. [IDN-InDepthNews – 15 August 2019]
Photo (L-R): Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea in Brussels, Carmelo Nvono-Ncá preparing trip modalities for the signing with ACP Group Secretary General Dr. Patrick I. Gomes. Credit: ACP Press
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
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