The Common African Position (CAP): An Interview with Dr. Margaret Agama-Anyetei

The Common African Position (CAP) meeting was held between 4-5th Sep 2019 in Windhoek, Namibia. The consultative meeting was initiated by Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). It brought together civil society organizations from the five regions in Africa.

One of our journalist champions, Lorna, interviewed Dr. Margaret Agama-Anyetei, Head of Health, Nutrition and Population Division, Social Affairs Department Africa Union Commission (AUC) on the sidelines of the meeting to unpack what CAP is all about.

Here is the interview;

Lorna: Why are we having this conversation here today and why is it important?

Dr. Margaret Agama: The conversation is about developing a Common African position on population and development for the African continent. The reason why it is important is that even though there are a lot of agreed tools and commitments that Africa Union Member states have signed and ratified in view of advancing the population and development agenda on the continent, there are still key issues which countries and regions still grapple with. We are keen to hear from civil societies and member states on what they think the issues are and what solutions lie in addressing these issues.

The purpose of developing a common African Position is to identify the divergences, the similarities and commonalities in order for us to come to some sort of agreement as to how we would advance in addressing these issues and in order for Africa to speak with one voice when we negotiate our population and development issues at global fora.

Lorna: How does the AU plan to use the out document?

Dr. Margaret Agama: It is a wide continental consultation, we are beginning with the civil societies in Africa, we will consult governments and we shall consult particular countries like the island states because we know they have peculiar issues that are often drowned out when the continent assembles as a whole, we will consult with member states at a higher political level and inclusive of our negotiators in New York who often negotiate these issues on our behalf. Civil society’s voice is important in this conversation, and this is the first of the many consultations that we will feed in the broader agenda.

Lorna; For a teenage girl living in the village, does this process involve her?

Dr. Margaret Agama; Yes, it has a lot to do with her, because as you have already heard from the conversation that took place today, rapid urbanization is a serious population dynamic issue. Whilst at the same time, we know that majority of our young people live in rural areas, what is important and significant is that many services which they demand or need are not reaching them and are therefore migrating. Either they become victims of all the population negatives such as teenage pregnancies, school dropout et cetera, they don’t reach their full potential. Some migrate to the nearest urban centers or to other countries or in some cases to continents in search of meeting their full potential. We expect that civil societies groups who are more in touch with these communities bring their voices and concerns into the room.

We can have a plethora list of all the issues, but what are the key issues for particular countries within regions that are of concern out of the long list, and what solutions can be shared within countries and between countries as well as within regions.

Lorna: Any parting thoughts?

Dr. Margaret Agama: You have to remember that this process is guided by AU Agenda 2063, Aspirations One (1) and Six (6) which advocate for ‘a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential offered by African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.

Lorna: Thank you so much for your time!