Address by Deputy President Zuma to the NEPAD Financing For Development Conference, Dakar Senegal

Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Senegal,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of the private sector,

We meet once again, to discuss an issue that is closest to our hearts, that of achieving sustainable development and economic growth in our continent.

Allow me, Your Excellency, to extend the apology of President Mbeki, who very much wanted to be here, but could not make it due to pressing matters of the continent, and in a very direct way, impacting on NEPAD, such as the Inter-Congolese Dialogue.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, we are faced with an enormous responsibility of rebuilding our continent and improving the quality of life of all its peoples.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, we are confident of achieving this new Africa together, through the New Partnership For Africa's Development, NEPAD.

Let me, from the onset emphasise that NEPAD is not the first development plan for Africa. For example, in 1991, the United Nations Development Agenda for Africa was instituted. African leaders committed themselves to, among other things, good governance, adherence to a culture of human rights and ending conflicts.

The commitment of African leaders to ensuring a better life for the peoples of the continent was also evident in the struggles for decolonisation of the continent, waged under the auspices of the Organisation for African Unity.

The various regional economic blocs that are in existence were also formed for the reason of improving the quality of life.

NEPAD is therefore an extension of that commitment of Africa to achieve a better continent. While not being the first development plan for Africa, NEPAD is new in the sense that for the first time, African leaders have taken the initiative and have become actively involved in the conceptualization of the programme and in working towards its implementation.

This programme is the concretization of many of these previous agreements and pledges made by African leaders. In other words, Africa has moved beyond words to concrete action plans, which are being articulated and implemented by the African leaders themselves. This has indeed introduced a new approach to issues and a new way of doing things, and this is what distinguishes NEPAD from previous development plans.

Another element, which needs to be taken into consideration, is the involvement of civil society. This matter received a lot of attention at the Third African Development Forum meeting in Addis Ababa last month. The involvement of the non-governmental sector was seen as crucial to enhancing the success of our objectives.

We believe that a lot of progress has been made already. You would be aware, ladies and gentlemen, that the Heads of State and Government have made pledges to implement various policies and programmes.

These include programmes geared towards strengthening the democratic process, promoting good governance, observance and protection of human rights, ensuring the freedom of the media, and undertaking various institutional reforms to ensure the sustainability of these objectives.

In this regard, the meeting of the Heads of State Implementation Committee of NEPAD adopted a Draft Report on Good Governance and Democracy.

At the same meeting, a consensus emerged on the establishment of an African peer review mechanism, under the auspices of NEPAD's democracy and good governance initiative. The Abuja Summit stressed that the mechanism should be designed, owned and managed by Africans.

The meeting also recommended that the technical aspects of the peer review mechanism should be conducted by an independent, credible African institution.

You would also be aware, distinguished guests, that the African Union is being restructured to enable it to meet the challenges imposed by the new global conditions, and for it to be able to operate and execute its mandate in the new environment and new way of doing things in the continent.

We must also record, the commitment of African leaders to good governance and democracy as evident in the decision of the Organisation for African Unity not to recognize leaders who come to power through military means.

The implementation of undertakings we make is crucial, as good political governance is crucial to create the right environment for good economic and corporate governance, and also for general economic and social progress in our respective countries.

While stressing the importance of implementing our pledges, distinguished guests, it is also vital to note that such implementation requires strong institutions. Therefore, a reform of institutions and capacity building in the continent is necessary, in order to realize this objective.

These institutional reforms would need to include:

Strengthening parliamentary oversight,
Promoting participatory decision making,
Adoptive effective measures to combat corruption and embezzlement,
Undertaking judicial reforms, so that it is in keeping with the current and advanced development in the continent.
Last month's meeting of the Heads of States Implementation Committee in Abuja also reviewed the issue of economic and corporate governance in Africa, with a view to promoting sound macro-economic and public financial management and accountability among members, while protecting their monetary and financial systems. The meeting approved eight draft Codes and Standards for Economic and Corporate Governance for Africa.

Another priority for the continent is the resolution of conflicts. Related to this question, a debate has begun about the need to review the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other states.

While respecting the sovereignty of all nation states, it is also a fact that conflicts spill over into neighbouring states and become the problem of more than one country. The resolution of conflicts will lead to stronger states, and will create the right environment for development to take place.

Already, a number of initiatives are going on in the continent, aimed at resolving conflicts, for example in Burundi, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and other flashpoints.

At the core of dealing with these issues of peace, stability and good governance, is the understanding that it is up to governments to create an enabling environment for increased development, trade and foreign direct investment.

Good economic governance is necessary in order to enable a state to deliver on its economic mandate, which entails the eradication of poverty and economic growth.

Institutional capacity building is crucial in this regard as some states lack the institutional framework to achieve sound economic governance. This is an area where our economic development partners would need to contribute.

Good economic governance will allow the opportunity of maximizing the gains from globalisation, and will surely create a stable and predictable envi!That is the kind of environment that would be attractive to the private sector, both within and outside the continent. It would also open up opportunities for technology transfers, and access to external markets.

Having mentioned the need for building the economic institutional capacity, we also need to recognize that the global financial and economic status quo is far from perfect.

The financial infrastructure in the developing world, especially Africa, is virtually non-existent. There is a need to seriously look into ways of developing the financial markets of African countries, as the international financial system will also benefit by having more participants.

The restructuring of the global financial architecture is key to enabling Africa receive the required capital flows. This would assist the continent to meet the international development goals and achieve the required growth that will address poverty and underdevelopment.

Another difficulty faced by developing countries is the question of debt traps. Debt relief should therefore continue to be on our agenda as we engage the developed world.

As the developing world, we should welcome the commitments made by the developed countries to increase funding for Africa's development, made at the Financing for Development conference in Monterrey, Mexico. We trust that these commitments will be actualized soon.

Distinguished guests, the issues of sustainable development, and reform of the world economic order are among those that should receive robust attention at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this year.

We trust that Africa and the developing world as a whole will manage to put these issues firmly on the agenda and ensure that concrete action plans arise from the Summit.

Distinguished guests, there is indeed clear progress being made in the arena of ensuring the implementation of the vision and mission of NEPAD.

Given these developments, we would therefore value the contribution of the private sector, civil society and all other sectors in the continent. The private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general have a crucial role to play in bringing about the kind of new Africa we envisage.

I thank you.

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