His Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Wade
I would like on my own behalf and on behalf of the delegation accompanying me to thank first of all the Secretary-General and also the President of the United Mexican States, its Government and the Mexican people for their hospitality. I would also like to express my gratitude and recall that millions and millions of people from all continents have their eyes turned to this Conference.
To go to the heart of the subject, I would recall that since the admission of the underdeveloped countries to the functioning of the international development finance system, financial institutions, European development funds and others, international development has been predicated on credit and assistance.
Official development assistance has only reached half the goal that was set in the 1970s -of transferring 0.7 per cent of the gross national product of developed countries to the developing countries. I do not want to go into the details of the contributions of various developed countries, but I would raise the following question. If, even today, here and now, the rate of 0.7 per cent were reached, what would have been resolved concerning development problems? No model of analysis has endeavoured to answer this question. Moreover, at the pace at which official assistance is evolving since 1970, to attain but half of our goal, it would have only reached this goal in another 30 years, without our yet knowing very well the problems that it would have resolved.
I would not want, for my part, for us to leave here with the sole result of announcing triumphantly that official development assistance has been raised to x per cent, because we would be dangerously raising hopes, while knowing full well that we are a long way short of the target.
Nevertheless, we must sincerely thank the developed countries, whatever their contributions to official development assistance, because assistance is always a sacrifice on the part of the populations that give it. We must recognize that assistance alone will not resolve Africa’s problems. Assistance can only complement, in my view, a system that is already functioning and not be the essential element that makes the system run.
On the other hand, debt has reached insoluble proportions. We must acknowledge that despite the good will of all in the face of the problems of Africa, the credit and assistance system that was conceived to finance international development has failed. What is paradoxical is to correlate the needs of Africa with the generosity of the developed countries. Africa, paradoxically, wanted to develop in a way that has never been proven, because nowhere in the world do we know of a country that has been able to develop through assistance and debt.
This means that we must seek other solutions. We have to be imaginative. That is precisely what Africa has tried to do in the New Partnership for Development in Africa (NEPAD), which focuses on the development of a partnership with the private sector and public sector. In April, my country will be hosting a summit of African Heads of State in Dakar devoted to partnership with the private sector to finance NEPAD. Companies, businessmen and the private sector of all countries are cordially invited – the United States and Canada, the countries of Europe and Asia, Arab countries and of course the African private sector.
I think that it is the private sector that developed Europe, the United States, Japan and certain Asian countries, which do not have natural resources, but have leaned on education and training. Africa should channel itself in that direction. In my view, most internal resources and official assistance should go towards education and training by creating thousands of schools of general education and vocational training in all villages and by making unemployed professionals into teachers and training personnel. We should even recruit training personnel from abroad.
With respect to debt, I need not expand on this, because I have focussed on this issue elsewhere. I would simply say that I support the idea put forward by President Bush to allocate 50 per cent of development resources as loans and 50 per cent as grants, because it serves no purpose to make loans, knowing that the creditors will not be paid.
The second phase of NEPAD will be in June, when we will meet with the Group of 8 in Canada.
I would simply like to add special drawing rights to the various sources of financing I have already mentioned. I would refer you once again to the proposal I made in 1972 in “African Reform of the International Monetary System,” which I took up again in 1989 at the Organization of African Unity conference in Abidjan and which was reflected in my work “A destiny for Africa” and in the Omega plan in 2000.
The second point I wish to make is that a Conference such as this can be a success only if it goes beyond general principles and into detail, because Africa is not in the same situation as South America or Asia, which are relatively more developed. To wish to deal with all developing countries with the same concepts and strategies would be like a doctor who wants to heal all the patients in his clinic with the same medicine.
The present Conference should refer to the continental conferences such as the one NEPAD organized in Dakar in April on the theme, as I have said, partnership with the private sector for financing for development. We intend to receive members of the private sector here to continue and follow up on Monterrey. We will be speaking in concrete terms.
The flows of private capital will be channelled to Africa if we create genuine democracies, establish transparent regimes, assure security and create conditions for profitability, with the free repatriation of capital and long-term conditions of stability. The problem facing Africa is not actually development resources, because they exist, but rather the conditions for receiving capital flows. It is our political systems, or certain political systems, that have a negative effect on the flow of international capital, which is thus channelled elsewhere, such as towards Asia.
In conclusion, while we again express our gratitude to the countries of the North and their peoples for the sacrifices that they make for the peoples of the South through official development assistance, we would say that African development would nevertheless take place through the private sector and no other means. Assistance of all kinds and financing from international institutions can only be a back-up for a machine that works on its own and supplement what it lacks. A contrary vision would be a serious mistake and can only lead to deep disappointment.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.