NEPAD orientation committee begins 28th session in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Heads of State and Government constituting the Orientation Committee (HSGOC) of the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) started their 28th meeting here Saturday, underlining the need for all African countries to strengthen the modest gains of the continent in the fields of agriculture and infrastructure development.

"We need to consolidate whatever achievements we have made in order to advance the overall development objectives of Africa," Benin President Boni Yayi, who is the current chairperson of the African Union Assembly, remarked at the opening of the meeting at the newly-opened AU Conference Centre.

"The issue of Africa's development is at the centre of our concerns as Africa's leaders," he said, pointing out that the financing of continental projects and programmes remains a matter of great concern to all stakeholders in African social and economic progress.

"Our responsibility is to strengthen the capacity of the NEPAD secretariat and its relationship with agencies of our partner countries," said President Yayi, urging every AU member state to ensure its agriculture sector becomes the driver of food and nutritional security of the population and employment creation throughout the continent.

He also expressed gratitude to South African President Jacob Zuma for the efforts he has made in steering the high-level committee of the AU Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI).

PICI comprises the leaders of Algeria, Benin, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa.

On his part, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn urged AU member states to reduce dependency on foreign aid for implementation of infrastructure development projects.

Hailemariam described his predecessor, the late Meles Zenawi who chaired the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC), as "a symbol of Pan-Africanism" whose legacy is witnessed on the ground in Ethiopia.

He said Meles viewed NEPAD as a change model in the management of Africa's relations with the international community.

Heilemariam appealed to the committee to continue its support and guidance to the implementation of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Programme on Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

Members of the HSGOC are Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia and the Chairperson of the AU Commission.

After the formal opening, the meeting proceeded with its deliberations behind closed doors.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 26Jan2013

26 january 2013 09:45:26

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