Economic Francophonie, a challenge for OIF members

Ouagadougou- Burkina Faso (PANA) -- The International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), a staunch defender of cultural and linguistic diversity, is yet an indigent economic area.
Three-fourths of OIF member states are sagging under the burden of debt, while the poor economic growth among most member states, if the tendency is not reversed, will dangerously jeopardise the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.
In this regard, the 10th Francophonie summit of Ouagadougou, devoted to sustainable development is an opportunity for members to take the economic challenge, which has so far eluded the OIF.
Just five of the organisation's 51-member nations -- France, Canada, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium -- are members of the prestigious Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), having 80 percent of the body's resources.
About 500 million persons in the Francophone zone live on less than one dollar per day, with Burkina Faso, Burundi, Niger, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, and Cape Verde at the bottom of the world rankings issued by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The disparity between contributions in the Intergovernmental Organisation of the Francophonie (AIF) budget is a perfect illustration of the poverty plaguing most member countries.
In fact, nineteen countries have announced plans to contribute just over 42,025.
46 euros to the 2005 budget, while 22 others intend to give 56,033.
46 euros.
Meanwhile, France remains the biggest contributor with 11,477,064.
75 euros, followed by Quebec (Canada) with 7,846,012.
75 to a budget estimated at 28,534,057.
27 euros.
Everything is a priority in these countries where school enrolment rate is below 50 percent and communication means non- existent, while health coverage is very low.
HIV/AIDS proliferation rates are most alarming while malaria, cholera, tuberculosis and polio continue to take a heavy toll.
Fighting these plagues requires considerable funding, which the countries cannot afford.
As if to add to the long trail of disasters, socio-political crises are racking about fifteen OIF member nations and democracy, good governance and the organisation legitimacy remain illusive.
These difficulties are daunting for the will to construct a prosperous and solidarity-based Francophone economic zone.
With a zero economic growth in 2004, Cote d'Ivoire, once the powerhouse of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) -- grouping six Francophone countries -- has pushed regional economic growth three to four points down.
Central African and Great Lakes countries form the biggest share of French-speaking countries where decade-long armed conflicts are undermining the development of the richest Francophone region by its subsoil.
The Francophone world leaders will Friday and Saturday in Ouagadougou define a roadmap, the Five-year Sustainable Development Scheme.
This involves brainstorming on effective development projects and programmes, with the setting up of a micro-finance mechanism, the funding of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) and the mechanism to finance the World Solidarity Fund (FMS) being the main points.
Through this framework document, the Francophonie, in the next decade, will clearly focus on poverty alleviation.
The states will need to show the full solidarity for which the International Organisation of the Francophonie has relentlessly pleaded at meetings involving world leaders.

26 november 2004 14:31:00

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