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Crisis facing Africa can be turned into an opportunity

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town – 10 June 2009: The Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by Kofi Annan, has called on African leaders to turn the current global economic meltdown into an opportunity for the continent on the basis of shared responsibility with their international partners.

The financial crisis has underscored Africa’s vulnerability, notwithstanding a decade of solid progress, the APP said at the launch of its annual report today. The key conclusion of the report is that Africa needs to drive its own development agenda as the basis for partnership and shared responsibility for progress. “The global economic crisis can serve as a wake-up call for both African leaders and their international partners,” the Panel said.
The report, which was launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa today by panellists Kofi Annan, Graça Machel and Linah Mohohlo, states that the global economic crisis imported from the North is hitting Africa harder than any other region. Nevertheless it presents “a unique opportunity” for Africa to pioneer a low-carbon development model. More investment is needed in Africa’s real economy, particularly infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and communications. The report notes that “investment in these sectors will not only generate jobs and boost trade in Africa, but also create markets for the world”. The Panel states that “we believe that, if given the chance, Africa can provide a valuable growth platform for the global economy and pioneer clean development models that contribute to global efforts to manage climate change”. Foreign direct investment in Africa illustrates the promising growth potential for the continent to become a reliable business partner for the world.
“Africa has transformed in my lifetime and the progress reached so far is proof that concrete achievements are possible amidst adversity,” Annan said at the APP launch. “The economic, climate change and food security crises are all linked. They cannot be tackled separately. We need a new development model that provides security, stability, and addresses peoples’ needs. Everyone needs to contribute. Business has a key role, as do Africa’s trading and donor partners. But the primary responsibility to make it happen rests with Africa’s political leaders.”
Africa now faces the extraordinary task, at a time of economic crisis, of maintaining stability and progress, including growth, poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the Panel said. Many countries are showing that determined leadership can bring about impressive results even in tough circumstances – for example, Rwanda, Mozambique, Malawi and Ghana. At a time when financial flows such as domestic revenues, investment and remittances are dropping, jobs, food security and health are all directly affected. Not just livelihoods but lives are at stake. 
Calling for clear-sighted African leadership, the report states that “primary responsibility for Africa’s progress rests with her political leaders”.  And that:
  • Priority needs to be given to job creation, integrating climate change into development strategies, and addressing food security noting that national capacities to tackle these challenges are still very limited;
  • African leaders must champion a strong common African position on climate change on the run-up to Copenhagen (this is an international conference in December this year in the Danish capital on climate change and global warming);
  • African leaders must “heed their commitments regarding governance, accountability and transparency”, adding that “the trust of their own citizens is the best possible basis for success”.
The report also states that African leaders have succeeded in securing progress on multiple fronts over the past decade but that they cannot tackle the continent’s current challenges alone. There is a shared responsibility for the crisis that requires a joint response based on strong partnerships. “Africa’s leaders and her international partners, whether industrialized countries or the emerging economies, donors or corporations, each have a role to play,” according to the Panel. The report highlights that:
  • Africa needs immediate assistance to maintain financial flows and stability. The APP specifically calls on G8 and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries to extend the cut-off date for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Programme from the end of 2004 to the end of 2008 to give Africa’s poorest countries more economic leeway;
  • Donors must deliver on their aid commitments to help governments meet urgent needs, leverage financial flows and in the long run reduce aid dependency;
  • Emerging partners – such as Brazil, China and India – can become champions of development in Africa. “Their development experience, particularly with respect to food security and health, uniquely positions partners from the global South to support achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa”;
  • International partners should support a stronger African voice in the international institutional architecture.
The Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by Kofi Annan, has called on African leaders to turn the current global economic meltdown into an opportunity for the continent on the basis of shared responsibility with their international partners.
Notes to Editors

The full publication, ‘New Multilateralism’, is available at:
The publication was produced by the Africa Progress Panel Secretariat and compiled by Murithi Mutiga, an editor with the Nation Media Group, Kenya.

The 11 contributors are:

Kofi Annan, Chair, Africa Progress Panel
Michel Camdessus, Former Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, former member, Commission for Africa and member of the Africa Progress Panel
Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Malawi
Gilbert Houngbo, Prime Minister, Togo
Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance, South Africa
Simon Maxwell, Director, Overseas Development Institute
Festus Mogae, Former President of Botswana and winner of the 2009 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo, Governor, Bank of Botswana, former member, Commission for Africa and member of the Africa Progress Panel
Todd Moss, Senior Fellow and Director of The Emerging Africa Project, Center for Global Development
Benno Ndulu, Governor, Central Bank of Tanzania
Ngaire Woods, Director of the Global Economic Governance Programme, University of Oxford

The Africa Progress Panel is comprised of Kofi Annan (Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Laureate), Tony Blair (former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Michel Camdessus (former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund), Peter Eigen (founder and Chair of the Advisory Council, Transparency International), Bob Geldof (musician, businessman, founder and Chair of Band Aid, Live Aid and Live8, Co-founder of DATA, former member of the Commission for Africa), Graça Machel (women and children’s rights activist, President of the Foundation for Community Development), Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo (Governor, Bank of Botswana), Olusegun Obasanjo, (former President of Nigeria), Robert E Rubin (Chairman of the Executive Committee, Citigroup, former Secretary of the United States Treasury), Tidjane Thiam (Chief Financial Officer, Prudential Plc, former member of the Commission for Africa) and Muhammad Yunus (economist, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Laureate)

Full profiles of the Panel members are available at:

Deriving its origins from a key recommendation of Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa, the Africa Progress Panel was launched in April 2007 as an independent authority on Africa to focus world leaders’ attention on delivering their commitments to the continent. The APP promotes Africa’s development by tracking progress, drawing attention to opportunities and blockages and catalyzing action.

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