We have a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ to reshape the international architecture in a fairer and more effective way
Kofi Annan today called for immediate assistance for Africa to ease the impact of the global financial meltdown on its people and economies, and to enable the continent to play a major role in the world recovery. We face a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to reshape global institutions in a fair and effective way to give Africa and the developing world a stronger voice, he said.
In his opening address at a conference entitled ‘Changes: Successful partnerships for Africa’s growth challenges’ taking place in Dar es Salaam, which is jointly hosted by the Government of Tanzania and the International Monetary Fund, the former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, said:
- Africa can be part of the solution to the economic crisis by being part of a global stimulus plan: The basis of this should be a continent wide pipeline of ready projects, focusing on clean energy, roads, rail and port facilities. This would create jobs, stimulate economic activity, both in Africa and globally, and could be a basis for stronger trade within the region.
- Africa needs immediate support to weather the financial storm: The nature of the meltdown is such that no country or even region can cope on its own. Africa is already facing the impact of climate change and food insecurity and will be heavily impacted by the economic meltdown. Immediate steps must be taken to allow African countries access to a large increase in financial flows. Specific measures that G20 and OECD countries can support include increasing concessional lending, strengthening tax systems, taking steps to increase remittance flows to Africa from its Diaspora, and funding for adaptation to climate change. Aid promises must be kept and provision made for a social safety net to meet urgent humanitarian needs.
- Failure to compensate for loss of revenues to maintain essential public services could result in extraordinary human suffering, and reverse progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals: It will also result in increased social and political tension.
- Africa must be fully represented in the evolving global architecture: Africa needs the technical support, policy advice and financial resources that the Bretton Woods institutions have to offer, but these institutions need to reform their governance and modus operandi. Africa must be fully represented in the global architecture, including in the negotiations on regulation of the global financial system. “It is not good enough being occasional guests at exclusive club meetings”.
- Africa must live up to its own commitments: If Africa fails to meet its own commitments to good governance, respect for human rights, the rule of law, aid effectiveness, transparency and accountability, insisting that our partners keep their promises won’t work. “Citizens deserve good governance and accountability”. The ability of a country to withstand and respond to the impact of the global crisis will be shaped by the strength of governance arrangements.