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African leaders urged to promote regional integration, investments

Participants at the NEPAD Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wednesday have called on African countries to accelerate regional integration, technology, economic progress, peace and mobilize local funds to deepen the gains recorded in the past 10 years.

“We need to adopt the most innovative mechanisms and methods to finance our major programmes. In this regard, I commend the joint work of the AU Commission, NEPAD Agency, UNECA and other partners to undertake a study on domestic resource mobilization for Africa’s development,” Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi said at the occasion.

Participants at the Colloquium and Congress include serving and past heads of state, development partners, the civil society groups, organised private sector and the media.

The Congress was organised to mark the 10th anniversary of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), set up in 2001 as an African home grown blueprint to fight poverty, hunger, accelerate economic development and reduce the marginalization of the continent.

The participants were unanimous that NEPAD had brought about great opportunities for partnerships among Africans and the outside world in health, agriculture, science/technology, good governance and infrastructure development.

But some of the participants, including the Ethiopian leader, expressed the belief that as a way of ending over dependence on external funds to fund NEPAD projects, huge domestic savings can be mobilized to finance infrastructure development.

The NEPAD idea was a combination of the Africa’s New Initiative and the Omega Plan promoted by the outgoing President of Senegal, Mr. Abdoulaye Wade. and three
former African Presidents – Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki (South Africa) and Abdulazeez Boutefilka of Algeria – were credited with being the architects.

In his contributions on Wednesday, Obasanjo said the continent was witnessing positive developments, citing the successful conduct of elections in Senegal and some other countries.

He stressed the need for more private sector participation in Africa’s development, adding that human rights, adoption of good business conducts and regional integration needed to be pursued vigorously.

“Two issues that must be addressed are investments and integration. Both must go together. The ten years of NEPAD have rekindled hope for Africa, it has provided great opportunities and facilitated great development,” Obasanjo said.

On his part, former Ghana President Jerry Rawlings said the quest for regional and continental integration should not be seen as a threat to each country’s sovereignty and development, but as great opportunities for trade, investments, mobility of labour and expertise.

“We need to place more emphasis on transparency, deepen science/technology, human capacity, and invest more in health, women and youths,” he said. ”In my view, there is room for innovation. Economic diversification has become necessary and regional economic blocs must be encourage if we want to make more progress.”

Also speaking at the occasion, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission For Africa (ECA), Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, said the partnership with NEPAD had promoted peace and security, human rights, economic and social development in the continent in the past ten years.

“We also assisted in mobilizing support for various African common positions on HIV/AIDS, debt relief, social protection, climate change and economic development….Through the direct support of the UN system, a joint plan of action was developed for ECOWAS and SADC to operationalize the initiative against human trafficking,” Janneh said.

The Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, said despite challenges, NEPAD had promoted democracy and good governance across the continent through the instrumentality of African Peer Review Mechanism(APRM).

He said out of the 54 African countries, 30 had acceded to the APRM, while 14 countries already have their corporate governance in place.

The Congress was organized with the theme: “Africa’s Decade of Change: Accelerating NEPAD Implementation through Domestic Financing.”

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