14 October 2005
Generous International Assistance Required for Africa to Beat "Poverty Trap", Achieve Development Goals, General Assembly Told
NEW YORK, 13 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the world's nations gathered in New York today to discuss ways to boost development in Africa, officials from the troubled continent stressed that while African ownership was essential to implement and monitor socio-economic growth strategies, it would take generous outside assistance for Africa to finally beat the "poverty trap," make progress in providing universal primary schooling, cut maternal and child mortality, and reverse the spread of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
In two meetings devoted to a review of the four-year-old New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) -- the United Nations-backed, African-led economic recovery plan that pledges better governance in return for increased donor support -- delegations repeatedly stressed the need to develop a real partnership between Africa and the wider international community, including civil society and the private sector, to ensure better and more predictable aid flows, and to reduce trade barriers.
Calling for the establishment of concrete criteria for broad-based debt relief for African nations, one speaker voiced the concerns of many, noting that his region, southern Africa, had a total debt stock of $78.1 billion at an annual total debt servicing cost of $6.8 billion. Until that issue was addressed, he said, all other goals were illusory.
The Assembly also devoted time to reviewing the activities undertaken and progress made in meeting the goals of the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria, with delegations stressing that turning back the entrenched disease required far more than the $3 billion currently allocated each year. Many speakers also called on Governments to increase their support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and also to earmark funds for developing and least developed countries to improve their health systems and train health care workers.
Speaking on behalf of the African States, Namibia's representative underscored another of the day's recurring themes: no meaningful development could take place amid violent conflict and insecurity. While only three African countries were currently in conflict, lingering strife elsewhere on the continent was a concern. The challenge then was to maintain international attention on those areas where peace remained fragile. The time was right for more structured cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations towards creating an "African agenda," he added.
Among those highlighting the role that Governments and regional organizations played in implementing the NEPAD agenda, Lesotho's representative, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said
national-level cooperation could contribute to coherence and synchronizing of development-targeted priorities and plans. It would also promote the sharing of expertise and resources in critical areas. He said planned SADC/NEPAD projects would have direct economic and social benefits, and would help SADC integrate into the regional, continental and global economy while contributing to market integration by allowing free movement of goods, services and production factors.
Similarly, Ghana's representative focused on some of the serious challenges at the national level, including the need for urgent measures to equip the relevant institutions to ensure successful implementation of NEPAD programmes and projects. There was also need for greater coherence and coordination between national development plans and NEPAD, which would require consensus-building at the level of the Heads of State Implementation Committee. He called for the promotion of greater involvement of the private sector in the implementation of NEPAD programmes and projects.
Singapore's representative said that, in many ways, the NEPAD agenda drove home the message that developing countries had no choice but to adopt and implement their own national development strategies. Indeed, home-grown initiatives were preferred -- there was no "one size fits all" model for development, and Governments knew best how to address the needs of their respective people. However, there was no denying that every national development strategy required some of the same basic ingredients in order to be successful, including, among others, leadership and accountability, input from civil society, women and the private sector, and adherence to the rule of law.
Touching on the global dimensions of market inequities and the dilemma of indebtedness, Cuba's representative warned that as long as the current political and economic order remained, in which a few consumed almost everything and the majority of the planet's population was alienated from the so-called benefits of globalization, Africa would continue to be marginalized and the colonial heritage would never end. Africans did not need patronizing, but training of human capital and access to markets and technologies. They did not need hypocritical lessons on what was in their best interest but deserved, above all, solidarity and respect.
The United Kingdom's representative, who spoke on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said his delegation was committed to playing a leading role in helping meet the special needs of Africa. An agreement reached this past June aimed to double aid provided by the Union's wider membership to over $80 billion by 2010, over half of which would go to Africa. To ensure that those funds were used effectively, the European Council planned to agree by December on a new Africa strategy targeting the entire continent and focusing, among others, on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Assembly President Jan Eliasson of Sweden opened the debate stressing that NEPAD's success would be measured by the changes in the lives of Africa's people, as a result of international support. Further, thanks to the African-owned agenda laid out in the New Partnership, Africa was creating for itself "a time of opportunity the like of which we have not seen for a generation".
With that in mind, he urged African political leaders to do all they could to publicize the real progress being made on the continent. "The more you can get the message out about the many things you are doing to tackle corruption, improve governance, attract investment and help your people lift themselves out of poverty, the stronger the chorus will be which demands you get the support you need", he said.
Also speaking today was the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, as well as the representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Egypt, Tunisia, India, Russian Federation, China, South Africa, Norway, United Republic of Tanzania, Angola, France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy, Kuwait, Canada, Viet Nam, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Uganda, United States and Japan.
The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow morning, 14 October, to conclude its joint debate on the New Partnership and the Roll Back Malaria Decade. It is also expected to consider a request to authorize the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) to hold the continuation of its session in New York during the current Assembly session.
The General Assembly met today to discuss progress in implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), as well as causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development on the continent. It was also expected to consider the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa 2001-2010.
The Secretary-General's third consolidated report on progress in implementation and international support for the NEPAD (document A/60/178) states that since the Partnership was adopted four years ago, there have been significant regional and international actions taken to advance development, as well as an unprecedented mobilization of international public opinion in support of Africa. It is critical that the momentum generated in the past few years be sustained and built upon.
To sustain momentum, the report says it is necessary to acknowledge some of the regional and international challenges and constraints faced by NEPAD. One of these challenges is capacity-building in the regional and national institutions that are entrusted with implementing NEPAD, particularly providing them with the necessary financial and technical resources to accomplish their tasks. It is also necessary that national development plans be aligned with NEPAD's priorities and that their plans are coordinated. Yet another challenge is mobilizing the private sector to participate in NEPAD's programmes and objectives.
The creativity and dynamism of private initiatives are required in a range of areas, including agriculture, industry, science and technology and infrastructure development, states the report. In the international sphere, it is necessary that development partners follow through on their commitments in a timely manner to sustain confidence, to avoid distorting priorities and to keep projects on schedule. There is also a critical need for multi-year provision of aid. More aid is needed, especially in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water and sanitation.
On the domestic front, the report says that African countries need to remain committed to economic and social reforms through sound macroeconomic management, and they must remain focused on implementation of NEPAD's objectives. Nearly two dozen countries have demonstrated their commitment to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) by signing up for review through the mechanism. Several countries have made supplemental contributions in addition to their statutory annual contributions for the operation of the Mechanism's secretariat. Ghana and Rwanda conducted self-assessments and were scheduled for peer review during the year.
Also before the Assembly is the progress report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report on the causes of conflict and promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa (document A/60/182), which draws attention to recent efforts in peacemaking and peacekeeping operations and highlights the need for special attention to post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building.
In order to consolidate peace throughout the continent, African countries, the United Nations and members of the international community have to increase efforts aimed at conflict prevention and resolution, as well as strengthening peacekeeping capacity, states the report. Recent trends in the African continent were positive. The number of major conflicts was reduced from 14 in 1998 to three at present, and an innovative African Peer Review Mechanism was initiated to support national efforts to enhance political, economic and corporate governance. The continent as a whole has recorded improved growth rates.
According to the report, the international community must remain committed and continue to increase financial, human and technical resources to support national security, development and capacity-building of regional organizations in Africa. Early recognition of potential conflicts is crucial to protect the lives and social and economic fabric of societies, and the African Union's continental early warning system needs to be established as a matter of priority in collaboration with the United Nations. The willingness the African Union has shown in taking on peacekeeping operations makes it vital for the global community to provide necessary financial support to develop the Union's peacekeeping capacity.
The Secretary-General's note transmitting the report of his Advisory Panel on International Support for NEPAD (document A/60/85) conveys two key messages: that NEPAD cannot succeed without a significant increase in international support, and that unleashing Africa's tremendous development potential requires harnessing the creativity and dynamism of private initiative in areas outlined in the Secretary-General's third consolidated report.
Strengthening private initiative is the key to Africa's economic transformation, states the report. These private initiatives must in turn be underpinned by an efficient, supportive and capable public sector. There are a number of areas that require African countries to take policy action. They include rural development and agriculture, investment in human development, investing in physical infrastructure, private sector development, improving governance, conflict resolution and peace-building.
To improve governance, institutions that foster predictability, accountability and transparency in public affairs must be strengthened; a free and fair electoral process must be promoted; and the capabilities of State institutions must be restored. The establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism has also been a major step towards better governance. Public service capacity-building and anti-corruption strategies are further required to improve governance.
At the same time, the report adds, there are several areas in which the international community must take action. They include substantially increasing aid levels, increasing debt relief, instituting freer and fairer trade, encouraging capital flows and remittances, developing the private sector, improving the quality and coordination of support provided by the United Nations system, and improving monitoring of pledges and disbursements.
The Assembly also had before it a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the World Health Organization's (WHO) report entitled 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa (document A/60/208), which examines the progress made in meeting the 2010 malaria goals. It states that while dozens of countries have followed WHO's recommendations and changed their malaria treatment policies, significant obstacles remain, especially the lack of financial resources, inadequate health systems and a shortage of health-care workers.
After reviewing a January 2005 Millennium Project report on coming to grips with malaria in the new millennium and a recent World Health Assembly resolution, the current report makes several recommendations of its own. It asks the Assembly to call on malaria-endemic countries to ensure that at least 80 per cent of those at risk of or suffering from malaria benefit from major preventive and curative interventions by 2010, and that the burden of malaria be reduced by at least 50 per cent by 2010 and 75 per cent by 2015. It also asks those countries to recruit, train and retain more health personnel. Insecticides, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and effective anti-malarial treatments should be considered as public goods and, therefore, made available free of charge to all populations exposed to malaria.
The report also calls on the international community to increase financial support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other organizations. It asks the WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to lead an international effort to provide all young children and pregnant women in malaria-affected areas of Africa with insecticide-treated nets. It also asks the global community to support the development of new medicines to prevent and treat malaria, especially in children and pregnant women, and to support coordinated efforts to improve tracking the coverage of interventions and subsequent reductions in the burden of malaria.
JAN ELIASSON (Sweden), President of the General Assembly, opened the debate by recalling that the success of NEPAD would be measured by the changes in the lives of Africa's people, as a result of international support. He reviewed the success achieved in combating malaria, including the increase in international political momentum to fight it, and said the progress had come not least because of African leadership, which had led to increased bilateral and multilateral pledges. And even so, a child somewhere in Africa died every 30 seconds from a disease that could be prevented and treated. The financial and political commitment had to be renewed.
He said the World Summit had proved that 2005 had been a year that advanced the cause of development. Leader after leader, from all over the world, had stressed the importance of tackling poverty. Real progress had been made throughout the year, giving a clear sense of what needed to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Efforts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, must be rapidly accelerated if the Goals were to be met. Thanks to the African-owned agenda laid out in the New Partnership, Africa was creating for itself "a time of opportunity the like of which we have not seen for a generation".
Now, the challenge was four-fold, he said. First, commitments must be implemented and progress on the Joint Action Plan covering both donor and African commitments must be reviewed each year starting next October. Second, the "final challenge of 2005" must be achieved -- achieving an outcome at the Hong Kong World Trade Organization meeting that advanced the cause of development in Africa and beyond. Third, the momentum of the present year must be maintained and built on by, among other things, keeping development high on the agenda and establishing the Peacebuilding Commission by year's end. Fourth, the story of the progress being made in Africa must be publicized. "The more you can get the message out about the many things you are doing to tackle corruption, improve governance, attract investment and help your people lift themselves out of poverty, the stronger the chorus will be which demands you get the support you need."
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia), speaking on behalf of the African States, said no meaningful development could take place amid violent conflict and insecurity. While only three African countries were currently in conflict, lingering physical strife in other parts of Africa was a concern. The challenge was to maintain international attention on those areas where peace remained fragile. The time was right for structured cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations for developing an African agenda. The early operation of the Peacebuilding Commission would also help with reconstruction in Africa.
He said broad-based and equitable growth that integrated Africa into the world economy was needed. Functional health services were also needed, and the lack of skilled health workers was a tremendous problem. International pledges of support for NEPAD programmes by themselves would not create the desired changes. Delivery of support in a sustained, timely manner was crucial to maintain the pace of development. Many African countries remained burdened by debt, and additional measures were needed to help them. While debt relief, official development assistance (ODA) and policy reforms addressed short- to medium-term needs, equitable trade was a key area in which progress was needed. The world had paid lip service to the Doha round and trade equalization. Free trade meant not just market access but strengthened capacity for Africa to export. For that reason, he supported the trade-for-aid agenda.
He said South-South cooperation remained important. The challenge was to translate that into practical programmes that yielded results within a specific timeframe. South-South cooperation should complement, not substitute for, North-South cooperation. He also stressed the need for mutual accountability in development, and called on United Nations specialized agencies to improve coordination in support for NEPAD and the Millennium Goals in such a way that avoided duplication of activities and maximized use of available resources.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that his delegation was committed to playing a leading role in helping meet the special needs of Africa. He stressed that the outcome of the 2005 World Summit had underlined the commitment of the wider international community to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, in addition to providing the Africa Partnership Forum with the principles of a joint framework to ensure the delivery of both African and international commitments to the continent. Both those developments had provided a substantial basis on which to build partnerships and create an environment conducive to development of the whole continent.
Turning to trade, a powerful engine for development, he said that the European Union looked forward to working closely with its partners towards success at the World Trade Organization's "crucial" ministerial meeting this December in Hong Kong. With a comprehensive, pro-development agenda combining trade liberalization with rule making and complementary "aid for trade" and trade-related assistance, the 2001 Doha negotiations could boost trade benefits to all, particularly developing countries. He added that regional integration and preferential market access for the poorest African countries remained important. "The EU markets must remain the most open, and the most important, for developing country exports globally."
He went on to say that the European Union currently provided almost half of all the money spent to help the world's developing nations. The group was nevertheless committed to providing more and better aid, multilateral debt relief and complementary innovative sources of finance to help meet the Millennium Goals. To that end, four of the five countries which exceeded the United Nations 0.7 per cent target for official development assistance (ODA) were European Union member States. An agreement reached this past June aimed to double aid provided by the Union's wider membership to over $80 billion by 2010. Over half of that would go to Africa, he added.
To ensure that those funds were used effectively, the European Council planned to agree by December on a new Africa strategy that would apply to all member States and European Union institutions, which would target the entire African continent; focus on the achievement of the Millennium Goals; encompass development, security and human rights; be based on the principles of African ownership; and launch a new, long-term, European Union/Africa strategic partnership. A key aim of the strategy would be to boost the capacity of African institutions, including with a financial package targeting the African Union, NEPAD and the continent's sub-regional and national institutions. The Union also planned to support the African Peer Review Mechanism, as well as poverty reduction initiatives and socio-economic programmes spearheaded by NEPAD.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said important decisions had been taken and commitments made to mobilise resources for Africa's development, but progress continued to be constrained by several factors. The problem of health professionals leaving for better opportunities in developed countries required coordinated action by both the African and recipient States. Substantial resources were also needed to respond to the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. More affordable and accessible drugs, especially antiretrovirals, needed to be made available to Africa. Also, more development resources were needed for NEPAD. Efforts should be made to improve the quality and effectiveness of aid, with the full involvement of both donor and recipient countries.
The area of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Africa required particular attention, he said. Despite recent increases, Africa's share in global FDI remained at just three per cent. Debt relief should also supplement ODA and be all-encompassing, so that all heavily-indebted developing countries could benefit appropriately. The upcoming World Trade Organization ministerial meeting offered an important opportunity to provide better trade opportunities for Africa and contribute to the continent's long-term growth and development.
He agreed with the need for greater coordination within the United Nations system to support the implementation of NEPAD. Coordination between the Organization and the African Union should be improved to enhance collaboration and coherence within the United Nations system. Commitments made in support of NEPAD needed to be honoured. In the process, economic cooperation programmes should not come with restrictive conditions, but should be adapted to the needs of each State.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the gains Africa had made in attracting FDI must be consolidated through a facilitative framework for support, which underlined the critical importance of a long-term engagement between Africa and her development partners. Recent initiatives offered hope that such engagement could materialize to mutual benefit. Those included the Group of Eight Africa Action Plan and commitments to achieve the 0.7 per cent ODA target. Yet, even as those measures were put into effect, other developments were negatively affecting the future of Africa and the Caribbean, particularly in the marketing of commodities such as sugar and cotton.
There must be coherence in development, trade and finance policies, he stated. That was the way to avert the erosion of development gains and the aggravation of poverty in developing countries.
In the final analysis, he concluded, while the primary responsibility for promoting durable peace and sustainable development in Africa rested with Africans themselves, the fortunes of the continent depended not on the actions of Africans but those of the international community, which had the potential to support or undermine the gains of recent years.
LEBOHANG FINE MAEMA (Lesotho), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said national governments and regional economic communities had critical roles to play in realizing and implementing NEPAD. The SADC was harmonizing its development priorities with NEPAD through the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, particularly in areas such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, infrastructure development, capacity-building and governance. Since 2004, SADC and NEPAD had scaled up coordination and participation in NEPAD-related development activities and mobilizing of resources to implement projects. The relationship would contribute to coherence and synchronizing of priorities and plans. It would also allow for the sharing of expertise and resources in critical areas.
Specific joint development projects were planned to build on the synergies between SADC and NEPAD, he continued. Those would have direct economic and social benefits for SADC countries, including cost savings and employment benefits. The projects would also help SADC integrate into the regional, continental and global economy while contributing to market integration by facilitating free movement of goods, services and production factors.
Noting the challenges faced by the continent as reflected in the Secretary-General's report, he said it should be of concern to all that Africa continued to have the lowest share of global FDI flows and an unsustainable debt burden. The SADC countries, for example, had a total debt stock of $78.1 billion with an annual total debt servicing cost of $6.8 billion. Until that issue was addressed, all other goals were illusory.
HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his delegation viewed NEPAD as a courageous and bold undertaking by African countries to prevent their further marginalization in the face of rampant globalization. In order to integrate with the global economy, those countries must own their development programmes and must work in partnership with international organizations and agencies. NEPAD was the most viable socio-economic blueprint to bring sustained economic growth to the continent, and could in turn strengthen democracy and enable the greater promotion and enjoyment of human rights for all African peoples.
Everyone was aware that Africa faced myriad development obstacles, which must be dealt with in a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated manner, he said. The continent still lagged behind the target of six per cent growth in gross national product (GNP) per year, while it would need an annual increase of some seven per cent if it was to reduce by half the number of people living in poverty by 2015. That could only be achieved with external assistance in the form of increased aid, FDI and the opening of global markets to African products and other exports from African countries.
Further, Africa's potential for development should be enhanced by broad efforts to harness the creativity and dynamism of private initiatives in areas such as agriculture, industry, science and technology and infrastructure development. He added that the establishment of the Peer Review Mechanism would contribute to further progress towards ensuring socio-economic progress on the continent. He stressed that, for its part, Malaysia would continue to explore ways to increase and enhance its cooperation with African countries, particularly in the area of trade.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said Africa must be helped to meet the needs of its peoples and to make a better life for future generations. Among other things, Egypt had given $1 million to the NEPAD Trust Fund, in addition to an annual $100,000 contribution. A centre for the treatment of malaria and HIV/AIDS was being built in Egypt to promote cooperation and coordination across the continent in the fight against those diseases. Defeating malaria would require more effort and resources than the $3 billion a year now spent on the deeply entrenched disease. Research must accelerate and partnerships formed.
In the area of trade, he said his country had hosted a regional trade meeting to plan for the upcoming World Trade Organization trade talks. On a broader scale, commitments still needed to be implemented, including the Group of Eight initiative to cancel the debt of some developing countries. Further, the commitments should not stop at debt relief but should address questions of global trade, including instability in commodity prices. He hoped to work with developed countries on those questions.
Continuing, he said the Secretary-General's report gave a fresh view of conflicts in Africa and showed the need to strengthen Africa's potential for participating in peace activities. The Peacebuilding Commission should take a multidimensional approach to peace and security and to the relationship of those conditions with development. There should be more inter-agency cooperation between NEPAD and the Secretariat in addressing post-conflict situations in Africa.
ILEANA NUÑEZ MORDOCHE (Cuba) said that many who allegedly expressed concern for Africa showed no major interest in solving its problems, after centuries of exploitation and plundering. As long as the current political and economic order remained, in which a few consumed almost everything and the majority of the planet's population was alienated from the so-called benefits of neo-liberal globalization, Africa would continue to be marginalized and the colonial heritage would never end. If African Governments were required to implement failed structural adjustment policies, they would continue to finance the opulence of rich countries, which would make promises of new assistance, perhaps fulfil some of them, and then keep collecting hundreds of times the amount of promised aid in external debt servicing.
She firmly believed in the ability of African leaders to solve conflicts, and would continue to support the African Union and all regional mechanisms for reaching agreements. Regional efforts required the end of foreign interference, the use of mercenaries, and disputes among transnational corporations over control of the continent's vast mineral resources. Cuba had materialized its solidarity and selfless cooperation with African countries. Its proposal to provide medical personnel to help fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic still stood. Cuba had done all of that, despite its scarce resources after being subjected to an embargo for more than four decades. Africans did not need patronizing, but training of human capital and access to markets and technologies. They did not need hypocritical lessons on what was in their best interest but deserved, above all, solidarity and respect.
ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said the outcome of the 2005 World Summit had affirmed the commitment of the international community to boost development in Africa and to create a genuine partnership for that continent, which had long been plagued by poverty, conflict and the ravages of pandemics. While he applauded the efforts of African countries to implement the NEPAD agenda, he stressed the need for all development partners to boost their efforts to provide the financial, material and technical resources that were currently beyond the means of African countries to provide on their own.
He also stressed that efforts were needed to create an environment conducive to the sustainable development of Africa, as well as to integrate the continent into the wider international trade and decision-making arenas. He praised the efforts of the African Union, particularly the establishment of the Peace and Security Council, and called for further assistance from global partners to ensure the smooth and expanded operation of that and other African Union institutions. He added that he hoped support for the Office of the Secretary-General's Special Advisor for Africa would continue to be provided.
SURESH KURUP (India) said partnerships were NEPAD's core. With the abundance of its natural resources and the tremendous capacity of its people to be agents of change, Africa held the key to its own development.
Emphasizing the Advisory Panel's call for moving from rhetoric to action and for development partners to provide support on a long-term basis rather than responding only when a crisis arose, he called attention to the ideas the Panel had put forward for investments in Africa. Those included the development of its human resources and of its private sector, as well as improvement in the quality and coordination of the support provided by the United Nations.
He reviewed the progress made in Africa over the past year, as detailed in the reports, and noted that the Summit Outcome Document had emphasized the need to go forward in implementing NEPAD. He said follow-up mechanisms should be put in place for the substantive proposals contained in the Outcome Document.
Finally, he said his country's solidarity with Africa was aimed not just at maintaining peace and territorial integrity, but at empowering Africa economically and politically, both at the national and international levels, to increase its share in decision-making.
NIKOLAY V. CHULKOV (Russian Federation) noted with satisfaction the progress made in recent years towards the settling of conflicts in Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, Burundi, the Sudan, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the situation on the continent was still far from being one of ideal stability. That stability was an absolute necessity if Africa was to achieve long-term development. He called for greater cooperation between African countries and the United Nations to ensure that the continent did not remain a "hotbed" of conflict, and to promote better application of and adherence to the Organization's peacekeeping norms. Russia would continue to support efforts of African countries in building their own anti-crisis potential.
He also stressed the importance of post-conflict efforts throughout Africa, particularly to strengthen good neighbourly relations, to enhance border cooperation and to end massive human rights violations and impunity. Turning to NEPAD, he noted that work within that home-grown initiative had picked up speed. For its part, Russia had cancelled or was in the process of cancelling the debt of a number of African countries, including within the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, in the amount of some $11.3 billion. It had also taken the obligation, through the Paris Club, to cancel Ethiopia's debt in the amount of $1 billion. On malaria and other diseases ravaging the African continent, Russia had decided to double the sum of its consolidated payment to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to some $40 million by 2008.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said that ensuring Africa's prosperity was crucial to wider global development. From the Millennium Declaration and NEPAD to the outcome of the recently-concluded 2005 World Summit, the international community had striven to turn words into action regarding Africa's development. Further, China was pleased to note that African countries had made great strides to ensure the implementation of NEPAD's aims by adopting positive initiatives and programmes to boost infrastructure rehabilitation, improve public health and education, and to promote tourism and the use of new information technology.
Further, developing countries had also made an effort to increase assistance to Africa by promoting South-South cooperation. At the same time, he noted that the Secretary-General's report had stressed that implementing NEPAD remained a "complex and painstaking process" and that, in spite of Africa's own efforts, broad international support was still needed at all levels to ensure success.
To make better headway, African countries needed to further pursue their national development strategies, and, among other things, the wider international community should use all effective measures, including substantially increasing aid, to support Africa's home-grown initiatives.
Therefore, he stressed that international commitments and pledges be fulfilled as soon as possible to help Africa get out of its "poverty trap," that vigorous efforts be made to improve monitoring NEPAD's implementation, and that the wisdom and wishes of African Governments and peoples be respected when various initiatives were considered or put in place. He also called for the expansion of South-South cooperation. In addition, he highlighted some of China's own Africa-related policies, particularly the loan agreements signed with some 43 African countries last year, and the fact that from last January, China had begun the practice of zero tariffs on some commodities for 25 least developed countries in Africa.
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa) said that through the NEPAD agenda, African leaders had not only taken ownership and leadership on the continent's socio-economic renewal, but they had also transformed the content of the overall development agenda, effectively changed the development paradigm, and were making progress in the global arena as well. The approach they spearheaded now went beyond the narrow approach set out in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), and had become more comprehensive, including development, socio-economic growth, and the promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance. He also stressed that the Peer Review Mechanism, rooted as it was in African traditions, enabled each country to assess progress towards achieving the continent's shared goals.
He went on to highlight the importance of conflict resolution, and the role sustained peace and stability in Africa played in ensuring the continent's development. To that end, he noted the leadership role being taken by countries acting on behalf of mandates set by the African Union, as well as the Union's own recent establishment of a Peace and Security Council. NEPAD's role in peace and security related more to post-conflict reconstruction and resource mobilization.
On Africa's efforts to combat malaria, which, if uncontrolled could become a huge economic burden, he called for more concerted and coordinated action among all stakeholders. Overall, the main challenge to Africa's development was the lack of a real global partnership dedicated to achieving that end, he said, calling for, among other things, increased and more predictable resource flows, more focused implementation of development strategies and further decisions on cancelling the crippling debt burden many African countries faced.
JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said that recent decisions taken by the Group of Eight and world leaders at the 2005 World Summit to devote more resources and attention to Africa's development were testaments to NEPAD's achievements. Norway welcomed that development and was strongly committed to working with African countries and the wider international community in the fight against poverty, and to promoting a "reform agenda" that would spark positive changes for all the people of the African continent. The challenge, he said, would be sustaining that momentum to ensure the implementation of commitments made. As Co-Chair of the Africa Partnership Forum for 2006, Norway intended to do its best to ensure that body fulfilled its role and developed a mutual monitoring process to assess progress towards such implementation.
He also said that in order to boost African development overall, it would be necessary to reform the global development framework, which meant debt cancellation, and the trade and investment regimes. To reduce poverty and achieve progress towards the Millennium Goals, Africa's poorer countries must also be able to acquire their own revenue, which could be done primarily through trade. Market access was therefore crucial, he said, calling for a conclusive wrap up of the World Trade Organization's Doha trade round. He called for more predictable and better aid, as well as better coordinated development efforts targeted at Africa's least developed countries. But he also stressed that even if donors tried to do all the right things, development in Africa would stall unless Africans themselves did not do their part, particularly in terms of fighting corruption and promoting good governance.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) called for practical measures to make the African Union Peace and Security Council fully operational, and recalled the commitments in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document for speedy implementation of practical measures to assist Africa in peacekeeping. He welcomed the NEPAD Secretariat's efforts to expedite action on priority projects such as capacity-building, institutional coordination, resource mobilization and information sharing. He called for the speedy implementation of the commitment by the international community to support the building of an international infrastructure consortium involving the African Union, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank with NEPAD as the main framework, to facilitate infrastructure investment in Africa.
He referred to the serious challenges facing the continent identified in the Secretary-General's report, including the need for urgent measures to equip the relevant institutions to ensure successful implementation of NEPAD programmes and projects. There was also need for greater coherence and coordination between national development plans and NEPAD, which would require consensus-building at the level of the Heads of State Implementation Committee. He called for the promotion of greater involvement of the private sector in the implementation of NEPAD programmes and projects. Ghana shared the expectation that successful efforts in capacity-building and investment in essential infrastructure would boost the flow of FDI. It looked forward to this month's launching of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, which would identify the obstacles to the creation of a business-friendly investment climate in the region.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said his country had ratified the African Peer Review Mechanism early this year and the Panel had been invited to start the review process in his country. A number of measures had been taken in line with the Mechanism's spirit, such as implementation of legal sector reform programmes, strengthening of the judicial system and of anti-corruption mechanisms, and establishment of agencies. While issues of democracy and governance were important for Africa's development, NEPAD should also implement the tangible economic and social programmes already on its agenda.
His country, he said, had devised a number of channels for making use of NEPAD's support and promotion mechanisms. Those were in the form of private sector engagements, bilateral and multilateral support systems and regional cooperation. The resulting projects included the Ruvuma River Unity Bridge at the border between Tanzania and Mozambique, the dredging of the Dar es Salaam Port entrance, the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Interconnection and the East Africa Community road development. NEPAD was recognized as a showcase of Africa's ownership of its development, but the context had to stay international since Africa was inextricably linked to all the benefits and challenges of globalization.
ISMAEL GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the progress made in the four years since NEPAD's adoption reaffirmed the principles of African ownership and responsibility for the continent's development. The initiative had engaged national, sub-regional and regional actors, along with partners and stakeholders to implement the full range of already identified priorities. The United Nations system remained an important partner in advocating for international support and gaining it for Africa.
He said the last year had seen a welcome and substantial increase in aid to Africa, particularly in the form of the European Union's encouraging decision to establish a timetable for attaining the 0.7 per cent target for ODA. Hopefully, others would follow that lead. However, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had shown that increased ODA did not necessarily mean equivalent increase in aid to Africa. And, an increasing percentage of aid was allocated to non-development activities such as emergency relief and debt forgiveness. Those were important objectives but should not undermine or compete with support for implementing NEPAD development projects.
Further, increases in ODA must be accompanied by actions to scale up the effectiveness of aid. The common policy framework between the Tokyo International Conference on African Development and NEPAD was welcome, as was the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership. A common policy framework between NEPAD and the Group of Eight should also be approved speedily.
He said debt relief should be broadened to cover all African low-income and middle-income countries where the measure could free resources to implement NEPAD projects. The level of FDI to African countries was of concern since it represented a mere three per cent of global investment flows. Also, it tended to flow towards mineral extraction industries that generated limited employment and increased a country's dependency on natural resources. Actions and support in capacity-building and infrastructure development could increase private investment in Africa. States should support the new Investment Climate Facility to identify and overcome obstacles to creating and improving a business-friendly investment climate in Africa.
KAREEN RISPAL (France) said that it had been hoped that last year would be the year of development and the year of Africa. Clearly, that had been the case. Europe's commitment of an exceptional amount of resources demonstrated more than ever how the needs of Africa were central to European development policy.
The time had now come to implement commitments in all areas, including peace and security. Last year, there was a call for an international mechanism to support countries emerging from conflict. In that regard, the Peacebuilding Commission needed to be established in the weeks to come.
She said it was necessary to move all African countries towards sustainable development. Regarding the fight against HIV/AIDS, the goal of access to treatment for all by 2010 must be achieved. At a special meeting next June, the Assembly should adopt a road map for how each country would achieve that goal. Environmental degradation was also an obstacle to development, as clearly seen in Africa. The United Nations should create an environmental organization, based on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and headquartered in Nairobi. There should also be increased focus on debt cancellation and on the outside shocks that were too frequent in Africa. Trade played a key role, and the Doha round must be implemented in such a way to benefit African countries.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said the reports showed that aid to Africa had increased significantly over the past year. Unfortunately, much of the aid was in the form of debt relief and did not contribute new funds for development. Initiatives such as the new levy on airline tickets were creative approaches for funding development. His country had joined the venture and supported it fully. Implementation of such initiatives would bring attention to the issues at the core of the NEPAD agenda. The emphasis now should be placed on strengthening the capacity for development in both low-income and middle-income African countries. That would attract the financial support and investment needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Emphasizing the fraternal relations his country had always carried on with sub-Saharan African countries, he said the emphasis on South-South cooperation had redoubled and cooperative projects were being undertaken in such areas as agriculture. Of course human capital was a key element in implementing other initiatives and a project had been initiated for the development of African managerial personnel. To promote education, 7,000 foreign students had been taken into Moroccan universities and into technical and professional schools.
The students had come from 55 countries; 87 per cent of them from sub-Saharan African countries. More than 4,800 of those students had received scholarships. Also, technical cooperation projects were ongoing and Morocco had opened its doors to tariff-free trade with the least developed countries.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said security was the foundation for maintaining peace and long-term development. For that reason, additional resources must be allocated to African Union peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Burundi, and Somalia. The African Union needed steady support from United Nations agencies, particularly the Peacebuilding Commission and the ad hoc advisory groups. Contribution of additional financial resources and technical assistance from donor countries and development partners was greatly desired. Despite several initiatives since 2004, including the Group of Eight debt relief and increased ODA commitments, Africa still had many needs and much remained to be done.
He said much of the spending in Africa was absorbed for humanitarian needs, leaving little for reconstruction efforts. The private sector was an engine for development and needed to be placed at the centre of economic activity. Given, however, that the private sector was driven by profits, it would be unreasonable to fully replace ODA with private investment. Arguments that reducing agriculture subsidies in the European Union and the United States would be harmful to many African countries, who imported products, did not take into account the importance of agriculture in African countries, most of whom were export driven.
ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy) said that while real progress had been achieved in the four years since the New Partnership's adoption, everyone should nevertheless be realistic: in order for Africa to achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015, and to take advantage of the momentum generated by the Assembly's recent World Summit, efforts to secure the continent's development must be redoubled, commitments must be honoured and implementation must be ensured. He pledged that Italy would continue to do its part both bilaterally and multilaterally, and underscored some of his Government's recent relevant initiatives, including the cancellation of some $2.8 billion of the debt owed by African countries. The resources freed up by that measure could be used by recipient countries to finance national poverty reduction and development plans.
He said that Italy also promoted the advancement of democracy in Africa through direct support, in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, for the parliaments of some eight countries. It had also helped finance elections in four African nations and maintained partnerships with three others in the area of e-governance. He said that several initiatives had been launched to promote Italian private investment flows to Africa, owing to Italy's belief that access to global markets, trade and entrepreneurship were powerful engines for driving development on that continent.
VANU GOPALA MENON (Singapore) said that while there had been some progress in the four years since NEPAD had been adopted, overall results had been mixed and the continent still faced many challenges including the lack of well-coordinated transportation infrastructure, massive debt, the lack of sufficient FDI flows and huge gaps in the health and education sectors, including the serious threat posed by HIV/AIDS. Those were serious but not insurmountable obstacles, he said, stressing that it was important that through NEPAD, African leaders had signalled that they were committed to resolving the continent's problems and had taken responsibility for creating the right political conditions for development.
He said that in many ways, the NEPAD agenda drove home the message that developing countries had no choice but to adopt and implement their own national development strategies. Indeed, home-grown initiatives were preferred -- there was no "one size fits all" model for development, and Governments knew best how to address the needs of their respective people. However, there was no denying that every national development strategy required some of the same basic ingredients in order to be successful, including, among others, leadership and accountability; input from civil society, women and the private sector; and adherence to the rule of law.
After highlighting some key signposts on Singapore's 40-year path to development, he stressed that one of the rewards for taking on the challenges of globalization should be access to external markets. It was, therefore, in everyone's collective interest to work with Africa, through NEPAD, to end the sense of economic injustice and market inequity, to follow up welcome steps to deal with Africa's debt burden, and develop partnerships that would ensure tangible achievement of agreed international development goals.
NABEELA A. AL-MULLA (Kuwait) said the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development had contributed to the alleviation of foreign debts of 14 African countries within the framework of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The terms offered those countries were a repayment period of 40 years, including a 16-year grace period, and an interest rate ranging from 0.5 per cent to 2 per cent.
The Kuwait Fund, she said, was in the process of similarly helping other African countries overcome their debt burden. The Fund had contributed to the resources of many development institutions in Africa, such as the African Development Fund, which had been granted $196.7 million; the African Development Bank, which received $48 million; and the Special Programme for Sub-Saharan African Countries, which got $15 million. The Fund had also provided grants to the Foundation for Tropical Diseases, of which it was a founding member, as well as the International Development Law Institute, from which many African countries had received assistance. She said that Kuwait's ODA had been almost double the agreed 0.7 per cent target.
Kuwait spared no efforts to ensure the stability of world oil markets, she added. It had contributed, through the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund, to many development projects in developing countries. Loans granted through the OPEC Fund to 99 countries, of which 46 were African, totalled $5.382 billion. It was time for the international community to take more decisive steps to increase its technical, political and financial support in order to assist the development of African States.
ALLAN ROCK (Canada) said the NEPAD initiative had succeeded in placing and maintaining Africa and its development on the international agenda, while contributing to numerous positive trends on the continent. The African Union had made commendable progress in developing its capacity and had demonstrated the political will to resolve conflict on the continent. Despite all the progress, much more needed to be done by Africa and its development partners to realize the NEPAD vision. The international community needed to give NEPAD's programmes time to demonstrate positive results.
He said the Africa Partnership Forum, which brought together senior representatives of African Governments and of major development partners and institutions, should be strengthened to fulfil its role of monitoring commitments. The continent's sustained economic growth required unlocking the capacity of its private sector and its integration into the global economy. Earlier this year, Canada launched the Canada Investment Fund for Africa. Developed country markets must be opened to African producers and agricultural subsidies eliminated, as outlined in the Doha development round. Development assistance would continue to play a significant role in advancing the NEPAD agenda.
LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam) welcomed the progress in Africa noted in the reports and said the African Peer Review Mechanism, endorsed by 23 countries, would serve as a useful instrument for promoting sustainable development in Africa as a whole. However, he noted that 50 countries with a combined population of about 900 million people were actually moving backwards in one or more development areas. Almost half were in Africa's poverty-stricken sub-Saharan region. Food crises severely affected those areas, triggered by natural disasters, conflict, political instability, economic failure and diseases. A sharp increase in international aid was absolutely essential for social and economic development of the continent. He welcomed pledges by individual members of the Group of Eight to increase aid to Africa and by the European Union members to double development aid from 2004 to 2010. The required changes in trade should also be implemented.
He said the Asia-Africa Summit in Indonesia last April had adopted a Declaration on the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership. The role of South-South cooperation in development had been reaffirmed. NEPAD had also received strong support as the African Union's programme for growth and socio-economic development. Also endorsed was the identified need to promote practical cooperation between the two regions in such areas as trade, tourism, investment, information and communication technology, agriculture and transportation.
PAUL BADJI (Senegal) said the reports to the Assembly laid out the challenges that called for action. The two biggest challenges for Africa were the external debt and the state of international trade. A broad approach was needed to address the problem of indebtedness for both low- and middle-income countries. The Secretary-General's view should be embraced: a country's indebtedness level should be held at the point where the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved. On the question of trade, the needed changes had been set out: subsidies must be abolished, tariffs lifted and supplies diversified. The motto should read: promote growth to overcome poverty and commerce to stimulate growth. Going beyond aid for Africa was a matter of survival for African countries. It was up to Africa to demonstrate that trade was its path to integration into the global economy, and it was up to development partners to support that demonstrated African attitude.
The road to peace and prosperity in Africa was to implement NEPAD, he said. The international commitment to NEPAD was undeniably genuine but commitment was one thing and implementation was another. Africa should take the steps to free itself once and for all from the avatar of poverty.
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said that four years after the adoption of NEPAD, the record was still mixed. Could it be otherwise when commitments for Africa had yet to be implemented? Africa had little outside assistance to address underdevelopment. The implementation of NEPAD goals needed integrated efforts at all levels, from local to global. Building national and regional institutional capacity was an absolute priority, as a lack of it could handicap projects. Better coordination was needed between national plans and NEPAD's priorities.
He said the most important challenge was financing. Making NEPAD a successful partnership required better and more targeted aid, debt relief and increased private capital flows. African countries were dedicated to reform and good government, which could be seen in the Peer Review Mechanism. The many armed conflicts on the continent hindered the realization of development goals.
A climate of peace and security was needed. For that reason, a Peacebuilding Commission should be established promptly. The fight against AIDS and malaria was also a priority for NEPAD. Unfortunately, actions in that area had fallen short. Africa needed a continent-wide programme to fight those diseases, and just needed to be supported by a responsible partnership based on mutual interests.
FRANCIS BUTAGIRA (Uganda) said the conditions for sustained peace and development had still to be consolidated for Africa because of economic and social threats, as well as internal conflicts. His own country had nearly wiped out the so-called Lord's Resistance Army terrorists in the north after the Sudan had allowed Ugandan forces to operate from its soil. International efforts were now needed to find and disarm them wherever they ran. Currently, a number of their leaders had already been served with arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court, to serve as a strong message to other would-be terrorists that the days of impunity were over.
Like other countries emerging from conflict, he said, Uganda needed assistance to recover and, therefore, strongly supported the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission by year's end, with agreement on the composition and other modalities. Support should also be directed at developing the African Union peacekeeping capacity and establishing the African Standby Force. On other development matters, Uganda had set up a mechanism within its National Planning Authority to coordinate activities related to NEPAD and to integrate the NEPAD goals with national development schemes. Priority projects for the country and the region included development of the Kenya/Uganda oil pipeline and the Mombasa Port Container facilities, and a National School Feeding Programme.
SICHAN SIV (United States) said his country strongly endorsed NEPAD's mission, which reflected the fundamental principle that Africans must determine the continent's future. NEPAD represented African leaders' commitment to consolidate democracy and sound economic management, fight corruption and promote peace and security. It also represented their commitment to manage natural resources in a sustainable manner, and boost investment in Africa's most valuable resource -- its people. Speaking on malaria, which killed almost 1.2 million people in Africa, mostly children, he said that last June, President George W. Bush announced a five-year United States commitment of $1.2 billion for malaria prevention and treatment in targeted, highly-endemic sub-Saharan countries.
On 1 October, programmes were launched in Angola, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda with the aim of reaching 15 countries and 175 million people, he said. The initiative included expanded access to long-lasting insecticide treated nets and indoor residual spraying with approved insecticides; the prompt use of new artemisinin-based combination therapies or other effective therapies; and addressing malaria in pregnancy. The United States was working in partnership with host country Governments to build on existing national programmes. There were other partners in the effort, such as the Gates Foundation and others in the private sector.
The work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Health Organization and other multilateral partners was also a key to the success of the initiative. Other Governments were stepping up also, and he recalled the pledge of the Group of Eight leaders in Gleneagles to scale up action against malaria with key interventions to save 600,000 children's lives a year by 2015 and to reduce the drag on African economies. Those combined efforts could save hundreds of thousands of lives annually, and help meet the "Roll Back Malaria" goal for target countries, he added.
ABUBAKAR A. TANKO, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said the capacity of African Governments to promote lasting peace and sustainable development must be strengthened. The full complement of the African peace and security architecture must be established, including the African Union Continental Early Warning System and regional initiatives to raise brigades for the African Standby Force. There should be a balance between support for peace and security activities on the one hand, and productive activities on the other.
In formulating the mandate and composition of the Peacebuilding Commission, regional experiences in peacebuilding measures must be taken into account. Countries with such experience should be considered for membership in the Commission.
He said the success of NEPAD depended on several things, including African leaders and Governments sustaining their commitment to implementing NEPAD's goals; the international community delivering on its commitments to Africa; and a genuine partnership within Africa and with the outside world to mobilize internal and external resources. Africa needed a green revolution in agriculture as the launch pad for its development, but that should also be supported with a bold and imaginative industrial programme. Because Africa could not mobilize the requisite resources to implement NEPAD, it depended on the international community to fill in the gap. Donors needed to honour their pledges to Africa in a timely manner, and various initiatives aimed at assisting Africa needed to be coordinated. For that reason, the Secretary-General should quickly fill the vacancy brought about by the recent appointment of the former Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa to a new office.
TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) said that unprecedented pledges of support for Africa's development had emerged this year, culminating with the outcome of the 2005 World Summit. Japan also welcomed the fact that African countries had made much progress in implementing the New Partnership, particularly initiatives targeting agriculture and infrastructure. At the same time, the capacities of the NEPAD secretariat and the regional organizations that acted as its support bodies, needed to be strengthened. To that end, Japan would continue to support capacity-building programmes by mobilizing its resources, including technical cooperation. Japan also welcomed the establishment of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
He said that Japan was strengthening its partnership with NEPAD through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process, which focused on three areas: the consolidation of peace; poverty reduction through economic growth; and human centred development. Japan would also organize early next year, a TICAD conference focusing on African ownership and human security. On poverty reduction, he emphasized the importance of promoting trade and investment. Japan planned to implement the "Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa" in partnership with the African Development Group. Finally, he called for the scaling up of funds to combat malaria, particularly in endemic regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.
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