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Nigeria: Next G-20 Summit Must Focus On Developing Africa

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The Group of 20 developed nations has been urged to focus the next G-20 summit on financing development if the negative impact of the global economic crisis on Africa is to be minimized. The World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, stated this recently in a keynote address delivered at the inauguration of the 2009 Annual Conference organized by the Washington-based Society for International Development on the theme "Finding Common Ground on Foreign Aid".


Mrs. Ezekwesili told participants that the global financial crisis dangles the specter of political instability, social unrest and could unleash a major humanitarian disaster on the "world's last development frontier", even before it affects the continent's relatively sound financial sector. "We want action!" was the message brought by government delegations from Africa attending the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, according to the World Bank Vice President. "Tell our development partners to stop recommitting to aid commitments. They should just do it!" The World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region argued that initiatives to stimulate the economies of developed nations should not focus exclusively on national challenges, if a truly sustainable and global recovery from the crisis is to be achieved. "Aid must be used to leverage more resources, including from domestic sources and local currency bond issues, as well as to foster further reforms across the continent given the high pay-back nature of such initiatives."


Mrs. Ezekwesili cited the impact of IDA-funded reforms in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria, where telephone lines astronomically grew from 500,000 fixed phone to 60 million within five years, adding that World Bank studies have found that Africa's productivity would increase by 40 per cent, with its GDP growth increasing by an additional 2 per cent, if the entire continent could upgrade its infrastructure to the levels of infrastructure in Mauritius. 
"Aid cannot be the panacea either, but must act as a catalyst," Ms. Ezekwesili acknowledged, praising Africans for providing much-desired but hitherto missing leadership. "Aid is certain to be used more effectively because the continent now has a leadership even more committed to reforms, governing more responsibly, and making the right kinds of policy choices to use any resources in transparent, efficient and accountable ways.


Given the real danger of a reversal of gains made by African countries after years of tough choices and politically difficult reforms, Ms. Ezekwesili stressed the need for donors to provide appropriate funding in a more expeditious manner to help the hardest-hit African countries to maintain economic stability, sustain growth, address volatility, and protect the poor. She also stressed the need for aid to help expand the opportunities for trade, including through ensuring the successful completion of the Doha Round of Trade Talks; and the need for African governments to diversify their economies from single commodities, and to more adequately regulate markets without renouncing market-based reforms and the role of the private sector . n creating jobs and wealth.


11 May 2009

Amaka Agwuegbo

source: allafrica.com


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