1. Introduction and background for partnership with partners in Africa
The overall aim of the Norwegian Council for Africa (NCA) is to “challenge conditions and structures in Africa and globally that are obstacles for a just development of Africa.” Our most important contribution towards justice and development in Africa is providing factual and balanced information. We believe that well researched information of high quality can improve Norwegian actors’ understanding of Africa and also improve their actions. We prioritise using African sources of information in everything we do and also use African perspectives in our advocacy towards Norwegian decision makers and political opinion. The Council aims at building networks in Norway, with Africa and internationally in order to contribute towards improved understanding and improved policies towards Africa.
The Norwegian Council for Africa (formerly the Norwegian Council for Southern Africa) was established in 1967 as an umbrella organisation for the Norwegian anti-Apartheid movement. After the abolishment of Apartheid in 1994, the NCA has expanded its field to cover the whole of Africa. Today the NCA is a solidarity organisation that views communication and information as its most valuable contribution towards the work for justice and development within and for Africa. The Council’s professional cooperation with partners, including project support, is anchored in the overall aim and closely linked with the overall information work.
The Norwegian Council for Africa wishes to contribute to long term, independent democratic development for the African continent. The organisation sees development of civil society as one of the major challenges for the African continent. A strong civil society with strong and vibrant organisations is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. The NCA plays an active role in the Norwegian civil society, something that strengthens the organisation and legitimises its role as a partner for organisations in other countries.
2. Overall aim for partnership
The overall aim for partnerships is to challenge conditions and structures that exist in Africa and globally that are obstacles for a just development within and for Africa. Our way of working towards this is by establishing long-term cooperation with organisations within the African civil society who have the same goals. We do this through supporting partner organisations’ activities and through joint projects of collaboration.
Through wide and varied information and solidarity work, advocacy and partnership with African partners, the Norwegian Council for Africa tries to work against ignorance of Africa at all levels: political, economic, social and cultural level. Partnerships are seen as an integral part of the Councils’ work and contribute to fulfilling the overall aim. Cooperation and direct support to African partners within the civil society, including supporting their work for justice, will also enhance the quality and effect of the Norwegian Council for Africa’s information work in Norway.
Solidarity is the foundation for the Norwegian Council of Africa’s professional cooperation. The organisation wish to cooperate with likeminded partners who share the same values and ideas about the importance of information about social issues and structural obstacles to development. In this way, partnerships are founded on a common understanding with exchange of competence and knowledge. Partnerships will give the Norwegian Council for Africa a stable and strong relationship with Africa. This will further contribute to the overall work of the organisation in terms of information, network and alliances.
Partnerships will be related to the specific objectives in the Norwegian Council for Africa’s information strategy for 2007-2010:
Information strategy, specific objective 1: To produce and communicate unbiased information through activities that increase knowledge and understanding of questions related to Africa. This information should challenge and aim to rectify biased and simplified stereotypes.
From the information strategy: It is still a problem that Africans are not used as sources by the media. There is a major lack of Africans providing information on African issues in the Norwegian press. The Council should ask questions regarding dominating depictions, regardless of whether they come from the political left or right. This is essential in order to secure actions based on nuance and knowledge. We do this through knowledge production and communication that challenge and seek to rectify the media image.
Partnerships will contribute in reaching this objective by:
The Norwegian Council for Africa will use partners as sources of information, centres of knowledge and as discussion partners in our information work.
Information strategy, specific objective 2: Communicate African perspectives through all our activities.
From the information strategy: The stereotype of the passive African (the recipient of aid, often a woman with Aids) on the one side and the active and corrupt statesman (man) on the other, are examples in themselves that there is a need to provide information of the other side of Africa. The side where Africans are active partners in setting their own agenda for development and improving their own situation. Leaving the agenda-setting to the Africans also here in Norway will teach us more and also teach us how to change our actions and attitudes. This is also important for our development aid policy and trade policy. In order to achieve this, it is of special importance to ensure competence building of employees and volunteers. Additionally we need to develop a wide and solid contact network with African partners.
Partnerships will contribute towards this by:
Involving our partners in exchanges of opinion so that their professional knowledge may contribute in balancing and enriching the debate. The Norwegian Council for Africa will for example arrange meetings and seminars where our partners participate as keynote speakers or their points of view is communicated by other means. We will also offer articles by writers from partner organisations on issues which are relevant for the other information activities within the organisation. The Norwegian Council for Africa will ensure that our partners’ points of view is known to Norwegian authorities and decision-makers in order to strengthen the quality of Norwegian activities in the area and field of question.
Information strategy, specific objective 3: Critical analysis of different actors’ influence on Africa’s development.
From the information strategy: Norwegian actors, both government (as donor, mediator or diplomat), private business and development aid seem to be appreciated in Africa. Statoil and Hydro are commended for their corporate social responsibility compared to other energy companies working on the continent. African states greet Norwegian companies a special welcome. Nevertheless it is important to scrutinise the different actors involved and facilitate transparency and a constructive, but critical, dialogue between government, civil society and private businesses. The Norwegian Council for Africa emphasises the need for civil society in Norway and Africa to play an important role in impartial monitoring, follow up and advocacy.
Partnerships will contribute to this objective by:
We will disseminate information about issues where our partners have information and opinions about Norwegian actors’ actions in Africa.
The information strategy, specific objective 4: Use knowledge in debates and advocacy towards Norwegian actors.
From the information strategy: The way Norwegian actors conduct their operations internationally and in the African continent has a consequence for Africa’s future. The
Council aims at influencing central actors in the development of Norway’s policy towards Africa. Our starting point is that we should without compromise, advocate for African perspectives. Furthermore we should provide insight on the actual and potential consequences that come as a result of actions carried out by Norwegian actors in African countries, even when it conflicts with Norwegian interests. We will disseminate this information and these perspectives as well as participate in the Norwegian debate as an independent party. This specific objective will be met through participation in networks, through campaigns and through participation in debates in the media. The Council participates in networks and is an umbrella organisation for other organisations, hence a network in itself.
Partnerships will contribute in fulfilling this objective by:
We will facilitate statements of opinion by our partners in Norwegian media about current issues where this is relevant. Additionally our partners may be used as a resource in our campaign work and in our participation in public debate.
Overall considerations in choice of partnership:
- The organisations have common values and common interests in the project.
- The African organisation has an added value towards the Council, which may be professional competence, networks or contacts.
- The Council had an added value towards the African organisation (beyond being a channel for funds) in the form of professional competence, networks or being a channel for advocacy.
3. Overall criteria for the partnership
3.1 Size of project
The Norwegian Council for Africa will mainly apply for small scale funding for partnership. The reason for this is our limited financial resources. Additionally we want to avoid our partners becoming financially dependent on the NCA.
3.2 Time frame
Establishing professional partnerships take time. Main partnership projects will have a
time-frame from 3 to 5 years. Smaller partnership projects with a specific thematic focus will have a shorter time frame. All partnerships should have a holistic plan for start-up, implementation and closing of the cooperation.
The Norwegian Council for Africa will concentrate its partnership activities to cover a small number of civil society organisations in a small number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The reason for this is efficiency and capacity.
3.4 Capacity and financing
The Norwegian Council for Africa’s partnership activities must be in proportion to the capacity and competence within the administration in Norway and with the partners. The Norwegian Council for Africa is currently a small organisation with limited resources. Partnerships must be within the resources available and mainly self-financing.
One of the goals of the Norwegian Council for Africa is to access funding sources that support professional partnerships with actors within the African civil society. This may be either a public or private donor. The precondition for choice of donor is that funds should not be attached to conditions that may question the integrity of the Council and it should also not limit our partners’ access to voice their views.
The Norwegian Council for Africa will not do fundraising in the same manner as traditional development aid organisations. The partnerships should in principle be self-financing. Criteria for financial support, including contribution with own funds, is that the partnership and the project should be of special importance to the Council and that it contributes considerably to the objectives of the information strategy.
Beyond being self-financed, the Council will work hard to find financial support for partnerships from various sources in order to secure administrative and financial sustainability.
3.5 Types of project and partners
Despite seeing a positive trend towards democratisation during the past ten years, the
African democracy is still facing major challenges. Free elections are not sufficient for a democracy. Democracy is also about civil society, about civil rights, freedom of the press, organisational freedom, education, gender equality, access to resources and opportunity to decide how your life should develop. Many African leaders represent anti-democratic practices and there is a large gap between leaders and their people.
However, there is a growing and increasingly creative and efficient civil society fighting for democracy. The Norwegian Council for Africa recognises the need for strengthening of African states. However, as a civil society organisation, we see it as our role to establish partnerships with actors within the African civil society.
Presentations of Africa are often stereotypical and biased. The Norwegian Council for Africa work towards providing a more balanced image of the continent. The social diversity is one of the main focuses in our political perspective. Choice of our partners and projects is a reflection of this.
The Norwegian Council for Africa will prioritise establishing partnerships of cooperation with actors within civil society who focus on disseminating information on social issues nationally, regionally and internationally. An important precondition is that the partner has developed functioning administrative routines and professional knowledge of the thematic issue of collaboration.
A professional partnership will mainly cover areas of professional exchange, support to partners for gathering information, documentation, facilitation and dissemination of information. Campaigns and advocacy will also be important components of partnerships.
The partnership should be based on equality where the Norwegian Council for Africa acts as an advisor and a partner providing feedback. Additionally, the Council will be the implementing partner of information activities in Norway.
4. Routines for planning and monitoring
4.1 Procedures for choice of partnership
Partnerships that the Council for Africa’s enters into should be initiated by a common
desire to establish collaboration around a specific thematic area of relevance to both parties. The board of the Norwegian Council for Africa must approve partnerships, and contracts for each partnership provide terms of reference.
4.2 Implementation and monitoring of partnerships
It is important to emphasise that partnerships should be based on equality when it comes to clarification of roles, distribution of available resources and implementation of activities.
Because available resources mostly will come from Norwegian sources, the Norwegian Council for Africa will have to be responsible for following up requirements set by Norwegian authorities and organisations. One of the responsibilities of the Council will be to establish functioning administrative routines, establish routines for communication and routines for administration and financial control.
The Council is aware that its role as both “controller” and partner in the partnership and that this may appear as conflicting roles. This is a general dilemma in international cooperation. The Council will prioritise our partners’ independence and integrity before strict controls and routines for monitoring as far as professionally possible.
Regular contact and meetings is part of a partnership between two parties. The Council wants a broad involvement of the whole organisation to ensure that partnerships are well anchored in the organisations. Therefore we encourage travel for partnership meetings by staff at the secretariat, board members and members of committees. Before field visits thorough preparations should be made and meetings with all involved parties should be arranged.
4.3 Administration and decision making procedures
The secretariat for the Norwegian Council for Africa is responsible for daily follow-up and communication with partners, donors and other actors. This includes follow-up on financial and administrative routines as well as cooperation with partners on their development.
The project committee, based on voluntary members, supports the secretariat. Members of the project committee are responsible for being updated on one project each. The committee meets regularly and is responsible for follow-up of partners. They also assess new partners and advice on decisions to be made by the board.
The board is responsible for final decisions regarding strategy on partnerships. The Annual General Meeting approves overall principles for operation, which is the highest level of authority within the organisation.
4.4 Routines for evaluation
When a partnership is about to end either a final evaluation or a final report is made. A final report should include information of measurement of impact as well as information on implementation. A report should be made in cooperation between the responsible for projects in the secretariat and his/her committee together with the involved parties with the partner organisation.
THE NORWEGIAN COUNCIL FOR AFRICA
Oslo, May 2007