New UN panel aims to boost global support for Africa's economic development

Ibrahim Gambari

20 July 2004 – Worldwide support for Africa's economic development will be strengthened by a recently-appointed United Nations panel of economists, development experts, former government ministers and academics, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Africa said today.

Briefing journalists in New York, Ibrahim Gambari said the 13-member panel, which will report to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will assess existing forms of international support, encourage that support to be increased and recommend new models for pursuing development goals for the world's most impoverished continent.

Mr. Annan announced the formation of the panel, which has been created to help achieve the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), during a speech two weeks ago to the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa.

First adopted by African leaders in 2001 and endorsed by the General Assembly the following year, NEPAD is a comprehensive programme for Africa's economic, social and political advancement based on the determination of Africans to extricate the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalizing world.

Mr. Gambari said the panel's first task will be to assess the quantity and quality of the development partnerships so far. Referring to the many promises of support in the past, he said the panel should ask: "How far has this translated into reality?"

The panel has been set up as Mr. Gambari has handed down reports charting progress made in three key areas of NEPAD - improving capital flows to Africa, integrating NEPAD priorities into national development strategies and building so-called South-South cooperation on African development.

Capital links will only improve if African governments do more to attract investment, through measures such as tax incentives, and if industrialized countries reduce their farm subsidies, according to the reports.

The reports also recommended African nations increase their links to Latin American and Caribbean countries in agriculture, health and education, telecommunications, peace, security and other areas.

The panel will be headed by Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Nigerian Foreign Minister and Commonwealth Secretary-General. Other panellists include Michel Camdessus, the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Richard Jolly, the former Deputy Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF); Anne Kristin-Syndes, former Norwegian Cooperation and Development Minister; and the noted economist Jagdish Bhagwati.

Video of press briefing [14mins]

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