REVIEWING IMPLEMENTATION OF AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT
NEW YORK, 5 November (UN Headquarters) -- Structural adjustment programmes had been applied more intensely and with more pain in Africa than in any other region, the representative of India said this afternoon as the General Assembly met to consider the final review and appraisal of the implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s.
Africa had largely fulfilled its obligations, he said. However, that had not led to any growth in agricultural output. Trade liberalization had resulted in de-industrialization. He added that official development assistance (ODA) had fallen from 0.33 per cent in 1992 to 0.24 per cent in 1999 and that debt problem remained unsolved. Foreign direct investment (FDI) remained confined to a few oil-and mineral-rich countries, and per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa was now 10 per cent below the level reached in 1980.
The representative of Ghana said that African countries must have the courage of their convictions and admit that the failure of structural adjustment programmes and the absence of just and fair global rules might have contributed to their marginalization –- just as much as the failures of political and economic leadership in many African countries.
Corruption must be dealt with, said the representative of South Africa. That could create positive conditions for investment, both domestic and foreign, in economic growth and development, thereby effectively reversing the conditionality debate.
Weak infrastructure, deteriorating social services and epidemics, particularly HIV/AIDS, unemployment, the debt burden, wars and natural disasters had contributed to deepening poverty in Africa, said the representative of Libya. It was nearly impossible to change the situation without drastic changes in domestic and international policies. The international community must shoulder its responsibilities, including ensuring coherence and harmony among domestic and international measures. Poverty eradication was the collective responsibility of all States.
The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States said that Africa represented a priority for the European Union, which was its prime source of funds and prime trading partner. It was a good sign that this new plan for the reconstruction of Africa had originated in Africa. Not only did it represent an effort by Africa to solve the problems of the continent, but it was also an initiative with clear objectives, and one that recognized democracy, transparency, good governance, rule of law, and human rights as the fundamental elements of development.
The transition from the Organization of African Unity to the symbolically important African Union was applauded by the representative of the Philippines. In his own region, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the road to regional economic integration had been paved with many difficulties. Yet the recognition of common interests and a realization that the region was better off working together, rather than against itself, had prevailed. He believed that ASEAN's relative success could help Africa to overcome the challenges to development that it faced, particularly those factors that hindered effective regional cooperation and integration.
Also speaking on the subject this afternoon were the representatives of Japan, Senegal, Namibia, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Botswana, United States, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Egypt.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10.00 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 November, to elect the members of the International Law Commission.
The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider the final review and appraisal of the implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s.
The report stated that the final review of the New Agenda, scheduled for 2002, was an occasion for the Assembly and the international community to take stock of efforts by African countries themselves and the international community at large to foster the development of the continent.
The Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General on the final review and appraisal of the implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (A/56/270). It was also an opportunity for the Assembly to deliberate and provide guidelines on future actions and approaches to ensure effective coordination of poverty eradication and sustainable development efforts in Africa. The New Agenda was established by the General Assembly in 1991.
The report also stated that the Assembly may wish to establish an Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole to carry out the final review and appraisal of the New Agenda, and submit its report to the Assembly at its 57th session for its decision.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said the Assembly had unanimously adopted the New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s during its 46th session. It laid down Africa’s responsibilities and commitments, including reform and structural adjustment of its economies, promotion of regional and subregional cooperation and an intensification of democratic processes. Commitments of the international community included attaining the target of 0.7 per cent of the Gross National Product (GNP) to official development assistance (ODA), finding a durable solution to the debt crisis, supporting development of infrastructure, granting improved market access to Africa’s exports and encouraging foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa. Meeting those commitments would lead to the achievement of 6 per cent economic growth per annum.
Africa had largely fulfilled its obligations under the compact, he said. Its structural adjustment programmes had been applied more intensely and with more pain in Africa than in any other region. It had, however, not led to any growth in agricultural output. Undertaken trade liberalization had resulted in de-industrialization. The compliance of the international community showed a different picture. ODA had fallen from 0.33 per cent in 1992 to 0.24 per cent in 1999. The solution to the debt problem remained elusive. Provisions reflecting on special and differential treatment obtained in the Uruguay Round had been eliminated. FDI remained confined to a few oil and mineral-rich countries. Per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa was now 10 per cent below the level reached in 1980.
Poverty eradication on a durable basis could only be predicated on economic growth, requiring capital accumulation, he said. Low-income countries could not be expected to increase their domestic savings rate. Of each dollar of net capital inflow to sub-Saharan Africa, 25 cents flowed out as interest payment and remittance of profits made by multinational corporations, 30 cents leaked into capital outflow, and 51 per cent accounted for terms of trade loss. There was, in other words, a net transfer of resources from sub-Saharan countries to the rest of the world. Greater domestic policy efforts by Africa could not make up for shortcomings in the external trading and financial environment. He supported establishing an ad hoc committee of the whole to carry out the final review and appraisal of the Agenda. India’s commitment to the development of Africa was based on solidarity, common aspirations and common concerns, sharing whatever gains India had achieved in its drive for self-reliance and economic and technological advancement.
KENJI HIRATA (Japan) said his country was determined to contribute to the development of Africa, based on the belief that there would be no stability and prosperity in the world unless the problems of Africa were resolved. To stimulate international efforts to that end, Japan had hosted the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993 and 1998. In that process, Japan had promoted the principles of ownership and global partnership. As stated in the Tokyo Agenda for Action, economic and social development priorities should be determined by African countries, and development should be pursued under a common framework for cooperation among all development actors.
Japan welcomed the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the Japanese Government looked forward to discussing how the international community could be of help in implementing NEPAD at the TICAD ministerial-level meeting that Japan would host next month in preparation for TICAD-II. Under the adoption of NEPAD, he continued, the United Nations should pay more attention to African leaders’ own development agenda outlined in the Tokyo Agenda for Action. In that regard, in the forthcoming review and appraisal of the implementation of UN-NADAF, the United Nations should examine how it could best help African countries translate NEPAD into concrete national policies.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said that over the past 10 years, several initiatives had been undertaken to further development in Africa. Far-reaching economic reform had taken place, aimed at better management of the economy. While broadening the tax base had been one of the priorities, other reforms had included ending preferred trading systems, private-sector deregulation of the labour market and a more welcoming climate for investment.
As for the political and institutional side, he said, free and democratic elections had taken place in many countries. Despite problems in some cases, the democratic opening up of the continent was here for good. That had been accompanied by human liberties, independent legal systems and freedom of the press. Political instability was reduced and tangible efforts had been made in basic education and literacy for adults, which had meant real progress.
Those initiatives had had positive effects, but the situation was still serious when it came to the economy, he said. A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in September of last year had stated that income per person in the year 2000 was 10 per cent lower than in 1980. This had occurred perhaps because international support for Africa had been insufficient. Africa had problems obtaining markets in developed countries because of prohibitive tariff regimes. The mobilization of resources targeted at the continent was well below that which had been established. So far as foreign debt went, there was a will to deal with the burden bearing down on African economies, but so far efforts had been ineffective.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said one should not be totally blinded by the apparent lack of success of the New Agenda, as demonstrated by the deterioration in the economic and social development of the African continent. It was apparent that the New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (NADAF) had made a contribution towards creating a system-wide awareness of Africa, borne out by the regular references to the particular needs of Africa in United Nations summits and conferences. Africa had now presented its own successor to the New Agenda, namely the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), formerly known as the New African Initiative. The discussion should consider how the United Nations should support that New Partnership and how it would re-prioritize its own programmes and other engagements with the continent in accordance with the priorities, objectives and programmes of NEPAD.
He said the main objective of the New Partnership was the eradication of poverty on the continent. NEPAD further sought to place African countries on a path of sustainable growth and development. African countries were agreed that democracy on the continent must be strengthened, a human rights culture entrenched, existing conflicts ended, new ones prevented, and corruption must be dealt with. That would create positive conditions for investment, both domestic and foreign, in economic growth and development, thereby effectively reversing the conditionality debate. Africa’s priorities entailled, among other things, bridging gaps of physical, structural, and organizational infrastructure as well as information and communication technology; promotion of human development; development of agriculture and improved market access.
He was encouraged by the support of the initiative from the G-8 countries, the European Union and other developed States. He had been particularly encouraged by the unflinching support from other Group of 77 delegations in efforts to promote NEPAD and its priorities, objectives and programmes. But the partnerships envisaged in NEPAD did not merely involve governments and other official bodies; it also stressed the need to strengthen public-private partnerships. Those could play particularly important roles in generating resources, promoting skills development and technology transfer, and implementing infrastructure and social programmes.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said his country welcomed the establishment of a Panel to oversee the evaluation of the implementation of the New Agenda for the Development of Africa. Through the New African Initiative, African countries were once again assuming and reasserting ownership of their development while redefining the terms and conditions of partnership with the international community. However, ownership of Africa’s development by African countries should not be used to leave Africa’s development to herself. History had shown that no nation or group of nations had pulled itself from the ashes of destruction and underdevelopment without the assistance of others.
In the process of putting together the evaluation, the Panel should therefore look at such projects as the Marshall Plan and the Alliance for Progress. These two examples did not occur in unique circumstances, and could be applied to the hardships and development challenges that Africa was confronting today. In addition, lessons learned from the implementation of the United Nations System-Wide Initiative on Africa and all other initiatives should be taken into account, as should the Secretary-General’s report on Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa.
Soon the United Nations New Agenda for Development in Africa in the 1990s would come to an end, he continued. In that context, the New African Initiative deserved the full support of the international community. Namibia endorsed the recommendation of the Secretary-General for the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole to carry out the final review and appraisal of the New Agenda for the Development of Africa and submit its report to the 57th session of the General Assembly. In that context, Namibia was counting on the support of all Member States for the draft resolution to be presented by the African Group of States.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that the opportunity to begin the review and appraisal of the implementation of UN-NADAF offered all a rare chance to evaluate performances in meeting concrete goals of development, measured against commitments. It was particularly important that futile exercises of the past were avoided, where debate was reduced to talking past each other, with claims and counter-claims of which side met its responsibilities and commitments. In his view, Africa's analysis of its situation, contained in the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) must be the last word on the matter. It was vital to stand by the courage of conviction and admit that the failure of structural adjustment programmes and the absence of just and fair global rules might have contributed to the marginalization of Africa, as much as the failures of political and economic leadership in many African countries.
The new partnership would need to address many of the problems which he expected the evaluation of UN-NADAF to highlight. That included the distorting nature of economic reform processes in which macroeconomic policies impacted negatively on the social sector; the lack of coherence among financial, monetary and trade policies; inadequate support for addressing supply rigidities and diversifying the economic base; inadequate support for capacity building; the distorting role of external factors in regional integration processes in Africa; and the nature of the process within the United Nations, which tended to treat conflict and post-conflict issues as separate from economic development.
It was suggested that while it might be argued that the attractiveness of NEPAD lay in its ownership by Africans themselves, in the case of UN-NADAF, its apparent lack of ownership could have been its biggest failing. Was it owned by the United Nations or the international community, and did both coincide as owners? At the bilateral level or in the Bretton Woods institutions there was no evidence that it was considered the new agenda for Africa, he said. No wonder that in this nebulous vacuum, accountability or joint accountability was such an elusive concept. He stressed that under the NEPAD, the response of task teams and lead agencies must be based on clear benchmarks and targets, and must be structured within a coherent and precise mechanism, open to evaluation and accountability, jointly involving African countries, donors and the United Nations system.
SEOK-YOUNG CHOI (Republic of Korea) said that addressing the wide spectrum of socio-economic and political issues of Africa, which had been afflicted with conflicts, poverty and underdevelopment, had become one of the greatest global challenges. Annual GDP growth in Africa had marked less that 3 per cent for the last four consecutive years. The continent had also suffered from dwindling external financial resources, debt hangover, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and sporadic armed conflicts.
One of the unprecedented parameters throughout the implementation of the New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF) would be the rapid progress of globalization, he said. Globalization had presented new challenges with significant socio-economic, political and institutional ramifications, and far-reaching implications for development paths throughout the world. The review of UN-NADAF should be made against the backdrop of the changing world, and further actions should be designed to reflect those new driving forces.
New avenues for mobilizing additional resources and promoting exports of African products needed to be explored, he said. It was discouraging to note the huge gap between the level of financial resources needed for development and the external inflows available to meet those needs. A positive external environment with respect to resource flows did not automatically translate into self-sustained growth.
AHMED A. EL ATRASH (Libya) said the initiative of the New Agenda had been launched to put Africa on the path of sustainable growth. Despite the unprecedented wealth in the world and progress in technology, the results for Africa had been disappointing. At a time when huge national wealth was created, the suffering in Africa from poverty and underdevelopment grew steadily more acute. The African countries had shouldered their responsibilities as far as was possible, with their efforts culminating in the New African Initiative. The report reflected the reality, however, that development achieved over the last decade was insignificant. ODA had decreased, as had international financial flows. Deteriorating trade conditions had led to a decline in Africa’s international market share.
In addition, he said, the weak infrastructure, deteriorating social services and epidemics, particularly HIV/AIDS, unemployment, debt burden, wars and natural disasters had contributed to deepening poverty in Africa. The report made it clear that it was nearly impossible to change the situation without drastic changes in domestic and international policies. There was a need for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities, including ensuring coherence and harmony between domestic and international measures. The establishment of an enabling international environment would have important results. Poverty eradication was the collective responsibility of all States, he said.
Among measures he proposed were integration of Africa into the world economy, ensuring an equitable partnership between developed and African countries in adoption of financial decisions, and facilitation of technology transfers to Africa. The crushing debt burden of Africa must also be removed, but not at the expense of other ODA flows. Africa was concerned by the lack of enthusiasm of developing partners. It was time for immediate action through debt relief and financial inflows. He reaffirmed the need for the United Nations system and international community to support the New African Initiative.
VALERO PAULINO (Mexico) said his country was deeply concerned that the majority of countries in Africa were beginning the twenty first century as the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Despite the fact that they made up 18.5 per cent of the world’s population, for example, they only produced 3.5 per cent of the GDP. Furthermore, conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics had severely affected the continent. In order to halve poverty by 2015, African economies would have to grow by 5 per cent a year, which would be difficult to achieve as the average growth rate in Africa over the 1990s had only been 2.1 per cent. The region also faced problems such as a weak private sector, fragile financial systems, low public investment in infrastructure, and weak links between agriculture and industry.
His country welcomed the Organization of African Unity’s decision to implement the New African Initiative, which warranted the full support of the international community. Such undertakings had to be supported if the international community was to ensure peace-building on the continent. He hoped that the development of a sound framework would allow the United Nations to become part of the new global initiative, so that the multitude of already fragmented proposals were not duplicated. Mexico stood behind the efforts of the African people in their political, economic and social demands.
LEUTLWETSE MMUALEFE (Botswana) said that despite all good intentions, the UN-NADAF was falling far short of expectations. That came as no surprise in view of the fact that the underlying factors influencing development, particularly mobilization of resources, had not been adequately addressed. He stressed that the international community must support efforts towards peace and security in Africa. The United Nations had the mandate, the means and the expertise to assist in the resolution of armed conflict and thus to remove one of the major obstacles to development in Africa. African countries must also be assisted in their efforts to invest in human resource development, capacity building and acquisition and application of technologies for development. In this era of phenomenal advances in technologies, presenting real possibilities for countries to stimulate domestic growth and infrastructure development and unleash the potential of both the private and public sector, it was crucial that all development partners step up efforts to support Africa's access to technology.
Another core issue was the need to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. No meaningful discussion on the development of Africa could be held unless HIV/AIDS was tackled in all its aspects. The international community and the United Nations system must therefore accelerate implementation of the outcome of the special Assembly session on HIV/AIDS in a sustained and properly targeted manner. He added that African leaders had laid down their own strategy for economic revitalization of the continent, and he hoped that this initiative would be supported by the international community through effective and sustained implementation. Botswana had always emphasized that real and lasting development must be based on principles of ownership. The priorities and destiny of the people of Africa could be truly determined by Africans themselves. The adoption of NEPAD was testimony to that fact.
STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that Africa indeed represented a priority for the Union, which was its prime source of funds and prime trading partner. He welcomed the degree of convergence that had been accomplished in the subjects identified as priorities in the follow-up to the Cairo Summit -- on conflict resolution, human rights, democracy and good governance, food security, AIDS, regional integration, debt and the return of cultural goods. He added that the final review and appraisal of the New Agenda would provide an opportunity to consider the possibilities for rationalizing the number of United Nations initiatives, in order to reduce duplication and overlap, while maintaining the overall scope of agreed priorities and targets.
In an attempt to rationalize the number of separate United Nations initiatives, the European Union would focus first and foremost on the importance of African countries taking charge of their own development. He also highlighted the importance of an integrated approach, firstly by the United Nations system and secondly by other partners from the international community as well as African countries themselves. It was essential to have a qualified approach, taking into account both the priority problems encountered by all African countries and the different situations and needs of the individual countries of Africa. Another attempt at rationalization was that of partnerships in the most inclusive sense of the term, which already underlay the new Cotonou Agreement, the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the action programme of the Africa-Europe summit in Cairo, as well as forming the backbone of the action programme for the least developed countries (LDCs), recently adopted in Brussels.
He concluded by saying that it was a good sign that this discussion could take place in the context of a new plan, originating from Africa, for the reconstruction of Africa. He welcomed the Abuja Summit of October 23, which had made possible the consolidation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development and the taking of a number of operational decisions. Not only did it represent an effort by Africa to solve the problems of Africa, but it was also an initiative with clear objectives, and one that recognized democracy, transparency, good governance, rule of law, and human rights as the fundamental elements of development. It was now up to all development partners to assist Africa in that effort.
ERNEST L. JOHNSON (United States) said the 2001 UNDP Human Development Report showed that much progress had been made over the last 30 years, thanks to such factors as technological breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture and employment. However, the report also showed that disease, especially HIV/AIDS, and pervasive conflict were reversing some of those gains. His Government’s commitment to supporting sustainable economic growth and development in Africa had been strongly endorsed by President Bush in his speech to the African Growth and Opportunity Forum, recently held in Washington, where he had welcomed and supported the New African Initiative.
All cases of successful development over the past 40 years, he continued, had occurred in countries that relied on a market economy and had opened their borders to greater trade and investment. In the 1990s, developing countries that had lowered trade barriers and expanded trade had seen per capita income rise 5.1 per cent. Yet while macroeconomic stability and an open economy had proved essential for sustainable development growth, they were not sufficient in themselves. The key to sustainable development lay with the policies and institutions of individual governments, not in bilateral assistance programmes, World Bank programmes or United Nations programmes. All that external actors could do was provide support.
In concluding, he said that the United States would continue its support for Africa. That would be done through multilateral and bilateral contributions, the United States Agency for Development, strong support for responsible debt relief, initiatives to improve basic education and health services, and through initiatives such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said the problems in Africa remained. The need for capacity building remained. Indeed, the need to further mobilize the international community and its resources in support of African development remained. But in his delegation's opinion, the mood in Africa was different, for that great continent had seized its destiny in its own hands and had charted a course that would hopefully lead to an African renaissance. The road map to accomplish this was the New Partnership for African Development, and one important modality was the emerging African Union.
He applauded Africa for the NEPAD initiative and the transition from the Organization of African Unity to the symbolically important African Union. He recognized the many daunting challenges that lay ahead. In his own region, the road to regional economic integration had been paved with many difficulties, and progress was at times slow. Yet the recognition of common interests and a realization that the region was better off working together, rather than against itself, had spurred the regional economic integration of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). He believed that ASEAN's relative success could help Africa to overcome the challenges to development that it faced, particularly those factors that hindered effective regional cooperation and integration.
He added that the international community, and particularly the developed partners, must extend all possible assistance to African countries to strengthen key institutions such as the civil service, the judiciary, the business sector, and civil society. South-South cooperation could also play a pivotal role, and must therefore be vigorously promoted and pursued. In that area, the Philippines could share its experiences, embracing its positive and progressive record of government's partnership with all stakeholders, including the business sector and civil society. At the same time, African countries, particularly the most economically vulnerable, must be fully integrated into the global economy not only in terms of meaningful participation in global economic decision making and market access, but also in terms of building up their capacity to enjoy fully and fairly the benefits of globalization.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said the UN-NADAF had been designed as a framework for international cooperation to promote development of the African continent. African countries had made a commitment to that framework by making great efforts in economic and institutional reform to build an environment conducive to development and partnerships. Despite those efforts, the initiative had not achieved the expected results. Africa still suffered from many ills.
Because of weak growth, the number of poor in sub-Saharan countries was still rising, he said. Poverty, hunger and malnutrition affected many categories of African society. Africa's foreign debt was also a major handicap to social and economic development. Despite concessions Africa had made, Africa’s share in international trade remained insignificant. Closing of markets of developed countries to African products continued to affect African countries. ODA was declining even though, for the least developed countries, it had been an important source of financing of development projects. Africa only represented 2 per cent of international investment flows. The continent also suffered from instability and the consequences of war, which seriously affected development policies. Actions of the international community in peace-keeping, although welcome, were insufficient in some African countries where State structures had collapsed.
Africa’s recovery required a novel approach, he said. The contribution of the international community remained essential, even though Africa was responsible for its own development. Improving access to markets of rich countries for African exports was necessary, as was rethinking debt in terms of cancellation or rescheduling. Africa had decided to take charge of its own affairs, which had led to the New African Initiative and in its outline of the ways to achieve development. In order to succeed, the initiative once again required the firm support of the main players in the economy. His country supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation of setting up an ad hoc committee to undertake the final appraisal of the New Agenda.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) said that the mid-term (1996) assessment of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF) had shown that the same critical situation prevailing at the beginning of the decade had continued to affect the African continent, despite progress in some countries. Today, because of a panopoly of internal and external factors, Africa was still faced with the same problems of poverty, malnutrition, underdevelopment and pandemics.
Despite those difficulties, the majority of African countries had engaged in political reform to instill democracy and promote good governance and economic restructuring to liberalize the economy, he said. Those efforts and sacrifices had not always received the support of the international community. The acceleration of globalization, the heavy burden of external debt, the progressive decline of ODA, the weakness of inward cash flow, the lack of foreign direct investment (FDI) and limited access to world markets had considerably reduced the capabilities of African countries.
Algeria considered that the final review of the Agenda should include discussion on measures appropriate to the new climate of globalization, he said. Mobilization of financial resources was a determining factor if the international community was to realize all of its development strategies. The final review should take into consideration principles like effective commitment, African ownership for cooperation programmes, and full support for African regional capabilities.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that UN-NADAF had come at a timely moment to show the resolve of Member States to support Africa’s efforts. The final review and appraisal of the agenda would give the international community the opportunity to review the results of the initiatives and foster the continent’s development. He welcomed the fact that the Secretary-General was setting up an independent working group to supervise that appraisal. Africa’s efforts could not be successful without significant support from the international community, which should manifest itself though offers of sufficient resources on the one hand, and the establishment of a favourable external climate on the other.
During the last decade, many African countries had intensified the process of democratization, strengthened civil society, and undertaken economic reforms to create a climate which would favour sustainable development and reduce poverty. However, it must be recognized that that was being done by developed countries -- and that the United Nations system was far from adequate. ODA, for example, continued to shrink. Tunisia was grateful to those countries that had fulfilled their commitment, and called on those who had not to do so.
Africa’s debt burden was one of the main obstacles to economic growth. He called upon countries, banks and multilateral institutions to help, particularly by applying the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). Countries coming out of conflict situations deserved special treatment in alleviating that burden. Furthermore, Africa needed to develop its technology and Africa’s international partners should treat the issue of information technology as a priority for African development. His delegation, he concluded, was convinced that the New Partnership for African Development would provide the right kind of framework for development, and appealled to the international community to take whatever measures necessary to ensure that the mechanism could succeed.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said 10 years of UN-NADAF had demonstrated that the gap between Africa and developed countries had continued to widen. The phenomenon was reflected by increasing levels of poverty, declining trade, decreased levels of ODA, lack of progress in technology transfer and high external debt. That trend was the result of downgrading the issue of development from its priority place on the international agenda. The burden of external debt impacted negatively on the majority of developing countries. Radical measures on debt reduction would enable funds to be freed for other productive activities, including the provision of social services.
Commodity trade had remained the major source of earnings in all African countries, he continued. But continued instability of prices in commodity markets denied Africa much of the required export earnings. Meanwhile, higher prices of industrial goods had made it difficult for Africa to modernize production, and the continent’s exports and share of trade had remained very low. It was imperative that measures be taken to increase the participation of African countries in global trade to avoid further marginalization.
He noted that the rate of return on investments in Africa was high at about 30 per cent. Despite such levels of profitability, FDI flows into the continent had been relatively insignificant. Of all FDI directed to developing countries, Africa’s share stood at less than 2 per cent, with the bigger share going mostly to Asia and Latin America. Africa lacked the resources needed to undertake necessary restructuring and to build the infrastructure needed to attract and support sustained flows of FDI. Even in the rare cases where such infrastructure had been built, FDI had not been forthcoming, at least at a rate which would enable Africa to make an economic turnaround.
HAZEM FAHMY (Egypt) said the success of any initiative for development was based on the political will of concerned States and the availability of necessary resources to implement the initiatives. Those two factors, particularly the finance factor, had been lacking in Africa. There were both successes and failures in the implementation of the Agenda.
In Lusaka, African leaders had adopted an initiative on development, called the New Partnership for Development in Africa. It had enjoyed unprecedented unanimity on the continent. It recognized the commitments and obligations of the African peoples themselves. He hoped those commitments would be matched by the development partners of Africa, making possible the achievement of the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the continent.
Egypt had participated with all other countries on the continent in the formulation of that initiative, he said. He hoped that the implementation of the comprehensive framework would be matched by an international political will equal to that of the people of the African continent. He also hoped it would be translated into additional external resources by the international community. It was a test for international efforts in implementing the Millennium Declaration, in particular halving poverty by 2015. Regardless of the outcome of review and appraisal of the Agenda, he hoped for a swift transitional stage in which efforts would be made to build upon its positive aspects.
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