Sustainable Growth and Development in Africa

THURSDAY, 18 MAY 2006

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
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The House met at …
The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment for silent prayer or meditation.

QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Question 11:

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Chairperson, yes, indeed, we are making steady progress in ensuring that Africa is on a path of sustainable growth and development, and the hon member may have noticed recent news reports that the overall economy of the continent grew by 5,8% last year and that an almost similar growth rate is expected this year.

The recording of this moderate but encouraging growth rate is attributable, in large measure, to the adoption by the African countries of policies and programmes that are informed by and are reliant on the vision and priorities of Nepad. As professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, former head of the Nepad Steering Committee and Secretariat, observed last year in his article entitled, The journey so far, leaders of the continent have not only taken charge of the programme of the continent's socioeconomic development, but have also made certain that Nepad policies and objectives become the internationally approved framework for Africa's development.

The latest report tabled by the chief executive officer of the Nepad Secretariat at the 14th summit of the Nepad Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee held in Khartoum in January said that through the efforts of African countries a solid foundation has been built for the successful implementation of Nepad, particularly in creating an environment conducive to sustained development. The report further goes on to highlight some of the achievements made thus far and it mentions, among others, but by no means limited to that, the financing by the African Development Bank of some 16 projects to the tune of US$630 million under the short-term action plan on the infrastructure. Furthermore, an additional 13 other projects, involving an estimated total cost of US$523 million are in the 2006 lending programme.

The conclusion of a memorandum of understanding by telecommunications entities of about 19 African countries for collaboration in planning and implementing the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System represents another milestone in the pilgrimage towards the goal of Africa's socioeconomic development.

A further indicator of the progress being made to ensure growth and development of the continent has been in the realm of development of Africa's human and institutional capacities. In this connection, the African Capacity Building Foundation, and independent institution funded by, among others, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and African governments, has recently made available an amount of US$6,5 million to bolster requisite capacities in the areas of banking and financing in West Africa, poverty eradication programmes in Burundi, Mozambique, Mali and Sierra Leone, as well as a programme relating to women and development on the continent.

Regarding the latter part of the hon member's question, we have already alluded to the considered view of Prof Nkuhlu that Nepad's policies and programmes have become the internationally approved framework for Africa's development. This is indeed shown by the engagement by Africa's leaders with the G8 countries, as well as the OECD countries, whose aim has been the forging of partnerships between Africa and the developed states to ensure the actualisation of Nepad and its programmes.

That collaboration has resulted in both African and developed countries pledging themselves to deliver on their undertakings to guarantee socioeconomic development. And, the hon members will recall the commitments made by the G8 at Glen Eagles last July to cancel the debt of some 16 African countries, as well as to double aid to Africa to the amount of US$25 billion, and the speeding up of efforts to bring about a fair, transparent and equitable global trading system.

The draft communiqué of the African Partnership for a meeting convened in Maputo, Mozambique, on 4 and 5 May 2006, says that attention was paid in that meeting to agriculture and food security, infrastructure development and HIV and Aids. The participants agreed that efforts should aim toward joint actions, using the African action plan as a base, and that the principle of ownership and partnership must guide the work of the Nepad Secretariat and the African Partnership Forum Support Unit in the task of putting the joint plan of action into operation at a sectoral level.

It has become critical to create the climate necessary for attracting investments to the continent. In this regard, an important vehicle - as was decided at Glen Eagles - has been established to address this challenge, and that is the investment climate facility for Africa, which is targeted at further improving conditions on our continent to facilitate higher rates of investment by both domestic and foreign investors. The president of the African Development Bank yesterday announced the support of the Development Bank for this facility and its decision to put money into that facility.

In regard to all of this, I must say, that because of the climate created by Nepad, and the resulted engagements with the developed world, there has been an increase in overseas development assistance and improved foreign direct investment into Africa, reversing the decline the continent experienced during the 1990s into the beginning of the new millennium. Thank you.

Mr S J NJIKELANA: Thank you, Mr President, for the illustrative answer. My follow-up question refers to the various international institutions that one assumes are also interested in the advancement of Nepad. My question is, as follows: To what extent has the South African government ensured the integration of programmes and resolutions of the specific institutions, the Africa Commission, the UN, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union? To what has extent has the government ensured that the programmes and resolutions of these institutions are in line with the advancement of Nepad?

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Well, as the hon member knows, we are members of the implementation committee - the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of Nepad - and it is really in that context, rather than as South Africa, that we would engage the rest of the world, including the institutions that the hon member mentions, with regard to the Nepad programmes.

Currently, there is a meeting that is taking place in Bamako, Mali ... not in Bamako, in Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou. It is a meeting of the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, which do indeed have on their agenda how to implement and ensure the promotion of the Nepad programmes. It's in that context that I mentioned that the African Development Bank president yesterday announced the decision of the African Development Bank to support the investment climate facility, which is part of those Nepad programmes.

So, indeed, the Nepad Steering Committee and the Nepad Secretariat have sought to interact as closely as they can with all of these bodies to make sure that they come on board.

I'll mention just one last thing in this regard: For a long time the World Bank programmes on the African continent have been based on bilateral agreements between the World Bank and individual countries. The Nepad Steering Committee has engaged the World Bank with regard to this to say that we are also looking ... we're not saying those programmes should stop, but we're also looking at the matter of African integration - the matter that was raised by the hon Suzanne Vos. Therefore it is important that the World Bank must also change its procedures to be able to handle regional projects rather than just mere country projects. As a consequence of this, in the end, the World Bank agreed and in our region, here, their very first project was to provide something over US$400 million to build an integrated electrical system connecting the DRC, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania - that's one of those Nepad regional projects.

I'm saying that certainly the Nepad Steering Committee seeks to engage all of these bodies to make sure that, in terms of their own interventions in Africa, they do so within that Nepad framework. Thank you.

Mr I O DAVIDSON: I would like to ask the hon President whether he agrees with me that in order to place Africa on a path of sustainable growth and development, and indeed to integrate it into the body politik of the world, one of the central issues - one, because he referred to others - is the issue referred to by our own auditor-general Fakie at the international conference on economic crime, yesterday, where he referred to, and I quote, "... the rampant increase in economic crime and corruption in both Africa and South Africa".

Indeed he observed that in respect of South Africa the global economic crime survey registered a 12% increase in both public and private sectors. But also, I'm sure he is aware of Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index where, if one looks at the past five years, there has been a dramatic slide away as far as perception of corruption in Africa is concerned.

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Yes, it is one of these critically important matters that the whole continent has recognised that we have to respond properly to these issues of corruption, good economic governance and good corporate governance.

You would recall that I referred for instance to a campaign that, even during its transition, the interim government of the Democratic Republic of Congo launched, in order to deal with this problem - and I'm sure that you'll find that in many countries on the continent - an intervention to deal with this problem of economic crimes.

I'm sure you would have seen in the media, a few months back, actions for instance taken by the law-enforcement authorities here to deal with properties and things that have come to this country from some individuals in Nigeria. That came out as a result of a system of co-operation that exists between our law-enforcement authorities, here, and the law -nforcement authorities in Nigeria to deal with this particular issue.

So, yes, it is important, but I think that there are many interventions that are taking place in many countries on the continent to deal with this. I would imagine that, as happens here, the more you expose corruption and this kind of misbehaviour the more the perception grows that countries are corrupt. It's a perverse outcome because it suggests that if you don't talk about corruption and don't fight it then the perception would be that there is no corruption.

I wouldn't, again, come to these negative views based on the perception that there is an increase in the incidence of this kind of crime. It is there, it's prevalent, it's serious and it must be dealt with, is being dealt with, but I do not believe that it is necessarily correct that the continent is focused in the wrong direction with regard to this, because I think the interventions that are being made, in many countries, focus on changing the course of our continent with regard to this issue of economic crimes and corruption.

And, I'm sure all of us are looking forward to listen to the outcome of the Enron case in the United States. And the fact that Enron was caught, I don't believe that it necessarily means that the United States is becoming more corrupt, but it highlights when you see a big case like that and you come to the conclusion that, oh, there's a major disaster. But, it is an advance if, indeed, those people are found guilty. Thank you.

Adv Z L MADASA: Hon President, there's a Maputo resolution calling for the integration of the Nepad programme into the AU processes. I understand the matter will arise at the Gambia summit. My question is whether precaution will be taken when this is done to ensure that it is not done in a way that will impede the progress that has been made, and the prospective progress?

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: It is an important question. The hon member is correct. Nepad is of course an AU programme, originally decided at the last summit of the OAU in Lusaka. It is an AU programme, but what has happened is that the view was that we were then in the process of establishing the new AU, that its institutions would not be strong enough at that point to move the headquarters of Nepad from here to Addis Ababa, the headquarters of the AU. Time needed to be given for those institutions of the AU, the AU Commission and all of its elements to really become properly established, and then of course to inherit these particular structures.

So, the matter has been discussed in that way within that context and, indeed, may very well be on the agenda of the AU summit in Gambia in July, but I'm quite certain that in the consideration of this matter, and certainly this has been the view of the chair of the AU Commission, President Konare, who has been saying that it would be incorrect to merely satisfy an organisational requirement that this institution of the AU must be based at the AU headquarters, to act on that in a manner that kills Nepad.

So it has been very sensitive to this, and I'm quite certain that in discussing the matter in Gambia this will be one of the matters that will be taken into account as to whether the original concern, that the new structures of the AU would not be able to house and manage an important initiative like this, has in fact now developed to the point where it could. I'm quite certain that that would be a central matter in deciding what we do next.

Mr G G OLIPHANT: No, Madam Chair, it was a mistake by the previous speaker to press here. I will hold until the next question.

Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Is there an opportunity for me now to translate my Latin message? [Laughter.]

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