Mr. K.Y. Amoako
The majority of African leaders are looking to the Financing for Development Conference as an opportunity for a more holistic response by the international community to Africa’s development challenges. However, we know from the preparatory meetings that while almost all the issues in the text of the Monterrey Consensus lean in the right direction, none come with clear-cut commitments.
I want to suggest six key areas for action that could enrich the Consensus. Firstly, the international aid system should be geared to the extent to which official development assistance goes to the least developed poor countries. As it stands today, official development assistance to Africa, the continent with the largest incidence of poverty and the largest number of least developed countries, has declined from $16 billion a year in 1996 to $12.7 billion in 2000. The share of the European Union’s spending on the least developed countries, for example, has fallen from 70 per cent to 38 per cent according to the latest figures. This decline has taken place at a time that the performance of Africa has improved on the whole due to macroeconomic adjustments and improved capacities in an increasing number of countries.
Secondly, we at the Economic Commission for Africa have coined the concept of enhanced partnership. We are making a special case for additional aid to those countries that will be the forerunners of Africa’s transition from high aid dependence to a more robust development path led by the private sector. These are the countries with proven track records of commitment to economic and democratic reforms.
This conference must come out with a clear-cut commitment to have these countries become beacons of excellence in Africa, models for their neighbours to emulate and engines of regional economic growth. However, we also know that diversity is a rarity in Africa. For a number of reasons, including weak capacity limitations and persistent policy constraints, not all African countries will initially be able to benefit from enhanced partnership arrangements. The international community cannot abandon these countries. Rather, care should be taken to tailor the mix of persistent modalities to the diverse conditions and development challenges of these countries. The focus in the long run should be moving all countries to the enhanced partnership group.
Thirdly, HIV/AIDS presents us with a classic force majeure situation. It is an emergency that requires an emergency response such as the one launched by the Secretary-General. Delegates here could help those countries with the most staggering added burdens due to HIV/AIDS by endorsing the following principles. Firstly, funding the United Nations Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other efforts to address this emergency must become a high priority for international solidarity and action, and, secondly, the funding towards HIV/AIDS prevention and care should be additional to normal development assistance.
Fourthly, the debt of middle-income countries with high levels of poverty is not well addressed in the draft Consensus. I believe we need new creativity on middle-income debt problems and should commit to a process of negotiations in which creative solutions are discussed in a constructive atmosphere.
Fifthly, we need qualitative improvement in Africa’s aid relations with its external donors. Conflicting donor aid procedures and reporting requirements impose a significant burden on the limited capacities of Afghan countries and undermine aid effectiveness. This conference should aim to stimulate the much needed political impetus among Africa’s bilateral and key multilateral partners to introduce necessary reforms in their lending and aid policies and practices to reduce their transactions costs associated with doing business with them. Within Africa, there is increasing support for peer review processes that foster accountability and progress towards good economic and corporate governance as well as political governance. Donors, on their part, would therefore need to redouble their efforts within the peer-review framework to adhere to good practices.
Sixthly, the Uruguay Round was a net loss for us, partly because African countries did not act well enough in their trade-related reforms, but partly because the Round was stacked against our interests. The guidance from this meeting should be that Africa’s trade must be a clear beneficiary from the Doha round. Such a statement could pave the way to very important resolutions for Africa during the Doha round.
These are six doable actions which I commend for your urgent attention. Let us therefore end this conference with international decisiveness and solidarity.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.