Africa Progress Report calls on African leaders to turn “scramble for Africa” into results for all the continent’s people; progress being made despite not because of governance25 May 2010
Panel Urges on Continent’s Finance Ministers to climate proof their economies and invest in women
Johannesburg – 25 May 2010: The Africa Progress Panel (APP) has called for a more assertive approach from African leaders to translate the continent’s “immense resources” into social benefits for its people. The report warned that “Africans beyond elite circles are not benefiting sufficiently” while at the same time there was great scope to improve Africa’s partnerships with the Global South.
Kofi Annan, Chair of the Panel and fellow Panel members Linah Mohohlo, Peter Eigen and Olusegun Obasanjo presented the Africa Progress Report on Africa Day – five years since the establishment of the Panel and 10 years since world leaders signed up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The report takes stock of Africa’s progress since 2005 and assesses future opportunities for the continent.
“This landmark report argues that Africa’s future is in its own hands, but that success in managing its own affairs depends on supportive global policies and agreements,” Annan said. “There is no lack of resources, no deficiency of knowledge and no shortage of plans. Africa’s progress rests above all else on the mobilisation of political will, both on the continent and internationally.”
The panel has called on the continent’s finance ministers, who are meeting in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire for the Annual African Development Bank summit, to “climate proof” the continent’s economic growth and development. “Climate change will increase the cost of MDG attainment, whether in food production, health, water, energy, infrastructure and other areas; it will have disproportionate effects on women and the poor,” the Panel said. “As a result, it cannot be treated as a stand-alone issue; climate-proofed development plans can provide the basis for disaster risk reduction and adaptation strategies as well as help identify investment opportunities for low carbon and job generating growth.”
Focusing on Africa’s emergence as a “new economic frontier”, the Report notes that economic engagement with the Global South - China, the Far and Middle East, South Asia and Latin America - “is already having a substantial development impact on Africa”. However, the report asserts that “Africans beyond elite circles are not benefiting sufficiently” while at the same time “there is great scope to improve Africa’s partnerships with the Global South”. The report also notes that “African leaders... need to realize that the benefits of increasing economic ties are not automatic, but only accrue to those that take adequate and pro-active steps to exploit them through targeted policies.”
In particular, the report calls for:
- Transparency throughout the entire resource system, from how contracts are awarded and monitored, to how taxes and royalties are collected, to how investment choices are made and executed.
- Policies that ensure that the revenues from the continent’s natural wealth reach everyone. This requires major policy shifts and significant investments of resources in institutions, human capacities, women, health, education and infrastructure.
Stating that “Africa’s development and the welfare of its people depend above all upon the political commitment and capacity of its leaders”, the Panel also urges African policymakers to:
1) Empower women by enforcing existing conventions, laws and policies and link their efforts with effective implementation strategies including reliable reporting mechanisms
2) Climate proof development, not least through integrating adaptation to climate change into growth and development strategies, accelerating regional integration, harnessing the potential of information technology and anticipating demographic shifts
The Panel also identifies three priority areas for action for Africa’s partners, recording that Africa’s leaders “need an international environment that is fair and supportive of their efforts.” The report calls for international policymakers to:
1) Provide a level playing field, addressing the fact that “the continent is starkly underrepresented in virtually all international fora” and that “bloated subsidy regimes and unfair trade rules” leave African countries “heavily disadvantaged.”
2) Increase policy coherence for development, “recognising the overall impact that countries’ domestic and international policy mix has on the continent and seek to minimize their negative effects.”
3) Fulfil promises on resources and assistance, and “Africa’s partners to recommit to the consensus on the continent’s development and fulfil the many promises on financial support and assistance they have made over the last decade”.
Focusing on the approximately $100billion of financial assistance in annual expenditure from Africa’s partners required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the presence of anticipated climate change, the report records that “much of this could actually be met if partners were to fulfil the pledges they made over the last couple of years and realize the financing ambitions outlined in the Copenhagen Accord.” It notes that “the mechanisms to collect, administer, and disburse these funds are already in place.”
Looking back on Africa’s progress over the last five years, the report describes it as “a truly mixed picture.” It states that “remarkable progress has been achieved in many fields, but... a number of set-backs, chronic problems and the effects of the global economic crisis and climate change combine to threaten the gains made since 2005.”
The Africa Progress Report highlights that the central challenge for Africa’s leaders is to inspire processes and build practical capacities, both nationally and regionally, to ensure that assets are translated into social benefits and that their people are able to access opportunities that can transform their lives, countries, and continent.