H.E. Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, President
24 September 2008
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ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, said the “dizzying increase” in oil prices had been raised by many Heads of State, and many countries had denounced policies that tried to blame the sharp run-up on increased demand. He also said the goal of the United Nations’ founding members had not been achieved: to promote social progress and establish better living conditions. The Organization had served humanity considerably by resolving some conflicts, but States must recognize its shortcomings, notably in the area of peace.
People had great expectations. People had hope, even in so-called poor countries, or “countries that had been impoverished by slavery and colonization”. Africa, for its part, had engaged in bilateral and multilateral initiatives, he said, calling States to “look at things straight in the face, and undertaking reforms”.
To feed Africa, the world must substitute the idea of “food aid” with “assistance to agriculture”, he continued. There was a need for innovative financing, as nations in the Sahara saw very little rain each year. Still, they could grow anything they wanted -- with resources. In Senegal, a major farming initiative would soon be completed. Indeed, the country had met the challenge of creating abundance: six months ago, it had been largely dependent on food imports –- bringing in some 600,000 tons of rice annually. Today, “everything is green”, he said. The programme had been a success, and Senegal would not make an appeal for food aid. Fortunately, the country had found inputs -– phosphates -- which allowed it to redirect one third of its investment. “They had been hidden, but we found them,” he said.
On the environment, Senegal had launched the “Great Green Wall” project, and hoped scientists would help determine which species would survive in its climactic zones. The project also would establish retention lakes to capture rainwater. The African coast was disappearing, from Morocco down to the Gulf of Guinea, and a meeting had been called to counter that erosion, he added.
Noting that the World Bank had named Senegal among those nations likely to meet the Millennium Development Goals, he said: “I like challenges.” However, as long as Senegal faced high child and maternal mortality rates, its progress would be slowed. Senegal was working to reduce those deaths, notably through plans to provide cell phones to women so they could contact health centres.
Senegal had created a Digital Solidarity Fund to help close the digital divide, and reiterated support for the dialogue of civilizations. Condemning extremism, which was against the teaching of Islam, Senegal was ready to dialogue with all civilizations, he said.
The United Nations was challenged by conflicts, he explained, noting those in Chad and the Darfur region of the Sudan. For its part, Senegal would continue to provide services. In the Middle East, Senegal had been asked to support dialogue between Israel and Palestine. On the ineffectiveness of economic thinking, he said that solutions to today’s failures would not be found in the global North; they would be found in the global South, notably in Africa. Rather than allow capital markets to create inflationary conditions, he called for wealth creation in Africa. “It is in Africa where the final progress will be made.”