The African Consumer Protection Dialogue (the 'African Dialogue') is an effort on behalf of African governments, NGOs, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to create informal opportunities to interface with each other, the U.S., and the rest of the world on consumer protection issues.
At the inaugural African Consumer Protection Dialogue Conference in August 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa, participants decided upon a set of priority initiatives that would serve as the mission of the Dialogue. These priority initiatives include:
- publishing a quarterly newsletter;
- hosting monthly teleconferences/videoconferences;
- facilitating information sharing from African consumer protection authorities;
- gathering African consumer laws and creating a legal framework toolkit for African consumer legislation;
- creating a rapid alert system for cross-border consumer fraud in Africa;
- organizing consumer education initiatives - including initiatives regarding children's online safety;
- engaging African regional and economic organizations regarding consumer issues.
The African Dialogue also counts outreach and expansion among its priorities, and is committed to expanding to include more francophone countries in North and West Africa. The African Dialogue is open to the participation from both government officials and NGOs from any African country.
Each month, African Dialogue teleconferences serve as the main forum for feedback and communication between participants. Recently, consumer agencies and NGOs from over 20 African countries have participated, including Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania, Uganda, Benin, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Mauritius, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique, Tunisia, and others. Each month teleconferences are held in English and French (with recent Portuguese collaboration from Angola). After each teleconference minutes are distributed to members summarizing the issues raised during the call and priorities for the future.
In July 2010, the Second Annual African Consumer Protection Dialogue Conference was held in Arusha, Tanzania. Like the first conference, this conference proved a resounding success. African Dialogue delegates agreed to continue the good work that had already been done on the priority initiatives, and decided to take steps to begin to formalize and expand the Dialogue further. Most notably, delegates established a Secretariat post for the African Dialogue, which is currently held by Tanzania. They also established regional liaisons for the northern, southern, eastern and western regions of Africa. These will be points of contact for regional inquiries or for action items on behalf of each region. The current regional contacts are:
- Mr Ahmed Bedewi (northern Africa) - Egypt Consumer Protection Agency
- Mr Brian Lingela (southern Africa) - Zambia Competition Commission
- Mr Michael Shilla (eastern Africa) - Tanzania Fair Competition Commission
- Ms Ify Umenyi (western Africa)- Nigeria Consumer Protection Council.
The African Dialogue also engaged with the World Bank on the issue of financial literacy, and looks forward to a collaboration that seeks to promote financial literacy programs in Africa. In addition, Washington & Lee University has graciously agreed to assist with the development of a website as well as with legal issues for the African Dialogue. Finally, at the conference in Arusha, members decided to develop a charter outlining the mission of the Dialogue. The Secretariat and the regional liaisons are currently in the process of working on this initiative.
For all questions regarding the Dialogue, please contact either Deon Woods Bell (), or Sally Blatz Du Rivage () at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.