Africa will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) unless it is able to mobilize all stakeholders, including the private sector, concluded more than 200 participants at a conference in London on 4 July. Coming on the eve of the Group of Eight summit in Scotland and on the same day as the opening of the African Union summit in Libya, the event formally launched a project of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), “Bending the Arc,” which aims to encourage businesses in Africa to advance the MDGs. The meeting was organized by the NEPAD Secretariat, the African Business Roundtable (ABR) and the United Nations. It also received sponsorship from Coca-Cola, Visa International, Nestlé and other corporations.
Making Africa more attractive to business is crucial if “we are to end Africa’s dependency on aid and ensure the self-sustaining growth that is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Africa,” said Mr. Bamanga Tukur, president of the ABR and chair of the NEPAD Business Group.
Mr. Mark Malloch Brown, chief of staff to the UN Secretary-General, lauded the project’s aim, since achieving the MDGs “is beyond the reach of government alone.” But he also cautioned against “pure private sector solutions” that may push the costs of water or information technologies out of reach of the poor. Africa needs “creative partnerships, where public guarantees, strong public regulations and, possibly, public start-up funds create the incentives and regulatory frameworks to allow the private sector to do its bit, and start to connect people to these vital infrastructures.”
The conference agreed that businesses should:
- implement health programmes, including prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, for their employees and families
- institute good corporate governance and transparent accounting practices
- help build the capacity of other partners, including government and civil society, to achieve the MDGs
- pay taxes
- channel private sector support to NEPAD
- collaborate with Africa ’s various regional economic communities to increase competitiveness and market access.
At a mid-June summit meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the panel managing the process submitted its first two national reports, on Ghana and Rwanda. “This is progress,” Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said at the forum, “and it constitutes living proof of our determination and commitment to change the status quo for the better.” Under the APRM process, the political and economic governance practices of participating countries are reviewed by teams of African experts.
The governments of Ghana and Rwanda will be able to respond to the reports and outline what actions they plan to take to improve their governance at the next peer review forum in November 2005. Of the 23 African countries that have so far joined the APRM, Kenya and Mauritius will be the next ones reviewed, followed by Uganda, Nigeria and Algeria.
Africa’s fish sector provides livelihoods for 10 million people and food for nearly 200 million more. It is therefore critical for the continent’s food security and economic development, African heads of state declared at a “Fish for All” summit meeting in August.
The summit, held in Abuja, Nigeria, and organized as a follow-up to NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Dev-elop-ment Programme, highlighted both the opportunities and the dangers confronting the sector. There is “potential for increased benefits from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture” in order to meet the “ever-increasing demand for food fish in our countries, our region and globally.” Yet there is also grave concern over “the depletion of fisheries resources, the degradation of aquatic environments and the threats to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.”
Among other recommendations, the assembled leaders called for:
- greater regional cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture
- empowerment of fishing and fish farming communities, civil society and other stakeholders to participate more fully in decision-making
- development of an appropriate investment climate for fisheries and aquaculture
- utilization of the entrepreneurship of small-scale fishers, fish farmers, fish traders and service providers
- conservation and rehabilitation of aquatic environments
- promotion of trade in artisanal and industrial fish products.