Transcript: Africa Commission Report: Media Briefing by President Thabo Mbeki at Premos, Pretoria, Friday, 11 March 2005

Pres Mbeki: As you can see, it [the Africa Commission Report] is quite a thick document reflecting the volume of work, the amount of work that has been done by the Commissioners in particular to identify the things that need to be done urgently to address all of the challenges that we identified in NEPAD, the challenges that we addressed in the G8 Africa Action Plan.

I must say that I was very pleased indeed that the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, took the initiative to set up the Commission and I do hope that it will indeed serve the purpose for which it was intended. To move all of these programmes that we have agreed about African development - the NEPAD programme [and] the G8 Africa Action Plan - it will do what it was intended to do, which was to ensure that both of those things, NEPAD [and the] G8 Africa Action Plan, are actually translated into a concrete programme.

As you can see I got a letter from the British Prime Minister two days ago about this, and he has asked that we should as urgently as possible study the report, of cause we will focus on these matters that were already part of the programme of action. But he said that could we also interact with all the G8 members to make sure that by the time that the G8 Summit takes place, in July this year, it is indeed able to take actual practical decisions on the matters that have been raised.

We have already kept in contact with a number of G8 leaders, with Chancellor Schroder, with President Jacques Chirac, with President Bush, of course Prime Minister Blair himself. We will be in contact with everybody else as he indicates, really to try and encourage everybody to make sure that by the time we meet again in July, this work is not wasted; that we use it to arrive at these practical decisions that need to be taken to implement these programmes for the development of the African continent.

But I must say thank you very much indeed to the Commissioners, it is 400 pages of very small print, you can see that this print requires very thick glasses to read it so there is a lot of work that is contained here. It must translate not into a lot of paper. It must translate into really firm serious programmes of action to implement these proposals that are in support of what has originally been decided. Thank you very much.

Journalist: There has just been some suggestion coming out of the G7 Finance Minister's meeting in London. For example, America is not too keen on some aspects and maybe you know, France has a different idea about agricultural subsidies and Japan might have a different view about debt. Do you see the likelihood, let us put it this way, how much agreement do you think is feasible at Glen Eagles on these very, I think quite a vicious proposal?

Pres Mbeki: Well first of all, the thing I will bear in mind is that the existing decisions about all of these matters that are here, whether it is debt questions or questions that have got to do with financing, development, whether it is questions to do with trade, questions to do with capacity building with regard to projects, proposals, whether it is questions of peace and security and so on, there are existing decisions. What this was intended to do, was to get into the detail of what needed to be done to translate those existing decisions into practicality.

Now, the reason for the existing decisions is that there must be an increase in the finances for development; the current situation is that you then have different proposals about how that financing shall be done. What would be contained in this report is the proposal put forward by the British Government some time ago for an international financing facility.

You have proposals that have been put forward by President Jacques Chirac with regard to generating the finances for development. You have the existing United States positions which have to do with the millennium challenge account. Now our view as NEPAD was that you needed to combine all of these so that you have one Africa Development Fund.

Whether it would be possible to have arrived at that point by the time we meet in July this year, is something that would arise. We would see whether it happens during the course of the discussions. But what is absolutely certain is that even if we do not arrive at that position of a common fund, there will be increased funds that will come maybe from separate pockets, if we have not been able to reach a point of a common fund. Nevertheless the funds will come. For that matter, it will obviously be easier for everybody if these funds were pooled and devoted to these programmes that have already been agreed upon, it would be easier.

But if we do not get to that point it does not mean that the funds will be absent, they will then come from different pockets to finance the development. So quite what would then happen in the end at Glen Eagles, I do not know but as I say, the British Prime Minister in his letter earlier this week said, 'Please engage all of us about this'; a process that we had already started.

My own sense is that everybody is very keen to achieve actual measurable programmes. So I think that we will come out with the practical decisions that we need.


Issued by The Presidency on 11 March 2005.

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