Panel of world leaders states that clear-sighted African leadership and international partnership are needed to contain the crisis and to pioneer a new development model
Cape Town – The Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by Kofi Annan, has called on African leaders to turn the current global economic meltdown into an opportunity for the continent on the basis of shared responsibility with their international partners.
The financial crisis has underscored Africa’s vulnerability, notwithstanding a decade of solid progress, the APP said at the launch of its annual report today. The key conclusion of the report is that Africa needs to drive its own development agenda as the basis for partnership and shared responsibility for progress. “The global economic crisis can serve as a wake-up call for both African leaders and their international partners,” the Panel said.
The report, which was launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa today by panelists Kofi Annan, Michel Camdessus, Graça Machel and Linah Mohohlo, states that the global economic crisis imported from the North is hitting Africa harder than any other region. Nevertheless it presents “a unique opportunity” for Africa to pioneer a low-carbon development model. More investment is needed in Africa’s real economy, particularly infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and communications. The report notes that “investment in these sectors will not only generate jobs and boost trade in Africa, but also create markets for the world”. The Panel states that “we believe that, if given the chance, Africa can provide a valuable growth platform for the global economy and pioneer clean development models that contribute to global efforts to manage climate change”. Foreign direct investment in Africa illustrates the promising growth potential for the continent to become a reliable business partner for the world.
“Africa has transformed in my lifetime and the progress reached so far is proof that concrete achievements are possible amidst adversity,” Annan said at the APP launch. “The economic, climate change and food security crises are all linked. They cannot be tackled separately. We need a new development model that provides security, stability, and addresses peoples’ needs. Everyone needs to contribute. Business has a key role, as do Africa’s trading and donor partners. But the primary responsibility to make it happen rests with Africa’s political leaders.”
Africa now faces the extraordinary task, at a time of economic crisis, of maintaining stability and progress, including growth, poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the Panel said. Many countries are showing that determined leadership can bring about impressive results even in tough circumstances – for example, Rwanda, Mozambique, Malawi and Ghana. At a time when financial flows such as domestic revenues, investment and remittances are dropping, jobs, food security and health are all directly affected. Not just livelihoods but lives are at stake.
Calling for clear-sighted African leadership, the report states that “primary responsibility for Africa’s progress rests with her political leaders”. And that:
- Priority needs to be given to job creation, integrating climate change into development strategies, and addressing food security noting that national capacities to tackle these challenges are still very limited;
- African leaders must champion a strong common African position on climate change on the run-up to Copenhagen (this is an international conference in December this year in the Danish capital on climate change and global warming);
- African leaders must “heed their commitments regarding governance, accountability and transparency”, adding that “the trust of their own citizens is the best possible basis for success”.
The report also states that African leaders have succeeded in securing progress on multiple fronts over the past decade but that they cannot tackle the continent’s current challenges alone. There is a shared responsibility for the crisis that requires a joint response based on strong partnerships. “Africa’s leaders and her international partners, whether industrialized countries or the emerging economies, donors or corporations, each have a role to play,” according to the Panel. The report highlights that:
- Africa needs immediate assistance to maintain financial flows and stability. The APP specifically calls on G8 and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries to extend the cut-off date for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Programme from the end of 2004 to the end of 2008 to give Africa’s poorest countries more economic leeway;
- Donors must deliver on their aid commitments to help governments meet urgent needs, leverage financial flows and in the long run reduce aid dependency;
- Emerging partners – such as Brazil, China and India – can become champions of development in Africa. “Their development experience, particularly with respect to food security and health, uniquely positions partners from the global South to support achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa”;
- International partners should support a stronger African voice in the international institutional architecture.