Forum Maps Out New Development Paradigms For Africa

DAKAR- Senegal (PANA) -- A group of prominent Africans seeking innovative approaches to African development wound up their three-day meeting in Dakar late Thursday, with a declaration that could launch the continent on a new path of growth and development this century.
The Independent Commission on the 'Millennium for Africa' project said it cannot be business as usual for a continent that has been ravaged by slavery, colonialism and multiple forms of exploitation in the last 500 years.
"Africa is a continent of almost infinite natural resources (currently exploited for the exclusive benefit of the Western world, rather than for the African continent itself).
"Like other continents it has the potential of almost infinite human resources capable of being developed for the purpose of exploiting and transforming these natural resources for the benefit of its people," the declaration said.
The meeting participants, who brain-stormed on several aspects of the African condition, said in spite of its present difficulties, Africa should not be characterised as a continent of doom endemically inferior to the rest of the world.
To begin with, they said, "Africa is a continent and not a country" with an almost infinite variety in its peoples and cultures.
Different parts of the continent have achieved different levels of growth and development, and so, limitations and crises in one part of the continent should not be taken as representative of the continent.
Thus, they said, priorities for African development should be viewed from the local, national, sub-regional and continental levels.
Critical areas include education, health, finance, infrastructure, political stability and security.
But of paramount importance is the freedom for Africans as individuals and as a corporate entity to take charge of their destiny.
The forum also took a critical look at the debt issue, saying it would make a thorough study of the origins and nature of the continent's estimated 300 billion dollars foreign debt and demand cancellation of the bad ones.
The participants said recognition of the causes of Africa's present condition needed urgent consideration.
"Restitution for the sustained and deliberate destabilisation of the continent over the last 500 years, particularly through the institution of slavery and the slave trade, which physically removed many millions of Africans from the continent for the development of Europe and the Americas.
"It is essential that the beneficiaries of this exploitation and destabilisation be clearly identified so that this restitution can be claimed", the declaration said.
The conference proposed a prize for exemplary leadership to be named after late Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere.
It also proposed the establishment of an African technology institute or Space Centre to deal with a host of issues including information and communication technologies and bio-engineering.
The declaration would be presented to African leaders at the July OAU summit in Lome, Togo, and the General Assembly of the UN in New York in September.
The Millennium for Africa project was initiated way back in 1998 by Benin's frontline historian, Albert Tevoedjre with the support of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose report on the 'Role of the United Nations in the Twenty-First Century' set the ball rolling.
Members of the commission include Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, renowned Egyptian economist Samir Amin, former secretary-general of the OAU, William Eteki- Mbomua and space engineer, Chiekh Modibo Diarra.
The Commission held was inaugurated in Abuja in January.

23 june 2000 09:29:00

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