African leaders seek Diaspora input in continent's development

Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- African leaders who gathered in Nigeria for the 7th Leon Sullivan Summit have called for the involvement of the African Diaspora in efforts to develop the continent.
They also pledged a new vision, commitment and determination to move Africa forward.
At least 11 leaders from Africa converged on Abuja, the glistening capital city of Nigeria, for the 17-20 July Summit which focused on the promotion of the Diaspora's involvement in the continent's economic and social development, as well as the enabling of the enterprising spirit of Africans on the continent.
The African leaders were joined by former US President Bill Clinton and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, among others.
"When we often say that Africa's offshore asset is of great importance to the present and future, we are referring not to oil, gold, diamond or coal, but to our people in the Diaspora," host President Olusegun Obasanjo said as the plenary session rounded off.
"People of African descent are everywhere, contributing to the economies and politics of countries throughout the world as businessmen, intellectuals, academics, politicians, and professionals," he added.
Obasanjo also extolled the contributions of the African Diaspora to the socio-economic well-being of the peoples of the continent.
"While abroad, our people also diligently take care of their families still in Africa, sending back remittances which, in the cases of some countries, exceed other inward financial flows," he said.
The Nigerian leader added: "These remittances are improving the standards of life here on the continent, and are contributing to private investments by individuals and groups who would otherwise be unable to acquire assets.
" Obasanjo noted that in the United States, Africans were the best-educated immigrant population, "serving as formidable representatives of our potentials and capacities".
However, he said African nations must "commit to creating conditions here on the continent that will help us retain our best and brightest," adding: "As we reform our governance structures and economies, promoting more transparency and economic opportunities, I think that we are on our way to turning the so-called "brain drain" in Africa into "brain gain".
In his remarks at the plenary, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade called for the establishment of a data bank of Africans living in the Diaspora so that they could be called upon to help Africans.
"There should be concrete cooperation between Africa, African Americans and the Diaspora.
Africans need to strengthen the cooperation and make the partnership with the Diaspora work rather than making too much rhetoric about it," Wade said.
Also speaking at the plenary, Mauritanian President Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, used the occasion to assure other African leaders that his country was putting democracy in place.
He called for Africans to build capacity for trade between African countries and other nations, and urged the consolidation of investments to spur economic growth in Africa.
President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania said over US$750 billion worth of assets were held by Africans in the Diaspora.
"If this sum is invested home now, a lot of improvements will be recorded in the area of health, agriculture and technological development.
Now is the time for us to rise to the occasion," he said.
Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir said Africa needed external support to overcome the challenges and problems of peace and security.
He listed transparent governance, protection of human rights as well as the peaceful resolution of conflicts as some of the ingredients African states needed in order to achieve the millennium development goals.
In his contribution, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said though his country is ready for foreign investments, there was more work to be done to build investors; confidence.
President Mamadou Tandja of Niger said it was time for the Sullivan Foundation and African nations to set a new path for development.
Leaders who attended the special plenary, which was the highlight of the four-day event, included Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria; Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Ely Ould Mohammed Vall of Mauritania; Blaise Compaore (Burkina Faso) and Yahya Jammeh (The Gambia).
Others were Boni Yayi (Benin), Mamadou Tandja (Niger); Paul Kagame (Rwanda); Omar El- Bashir (Sudan); Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania); Prime Minister of Swaziland, Absalom Themba Dlamini as well as the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Percival Patterson.

20 juillet 2006 16:34:00

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