Obasanjo believes Africa can overcome setbacks

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Sunday emphasised that African countries can overcome population explosion, land reforms, financial management and ethnicity if the continent was united in its approach and resolve in tackling them.
These problems are some of the critical challenges facing African countries, which have accepted to undergo an internal self- assessment.
Obasanjo urged African countries to embrace the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a continental good governance code that is meant to better the future of the African people.
"This peer review is not to find culprits and faults; it is not a punitive forum but a means for countries to engage with each other to share strengths and weaknesses," he said here Sunday.
In an opening speech at a special Summit of NEPAD (the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Peer Review Mechanism, the Nigerian leader said wealth distribution, gender problems and the management of ethnicity were major issues.
"These general issues have a wider impact on the quality of governance," Obasanjo told his peers gathered here to deliberate on the general issues facing the continent.
The leaders, meeting ahead of an African Union Summit to review the governance progress made since the last Summit in Banjul, said the weaknesses found in the review among the various states should be compiled as a catalogue for future improvements.
President Obasanjo, due to retire this year, said the peer reviews done in Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda had demonstrated that Africa can overcome problems facing it.
He said the review had discovered 'glaring' disparities in wealth distribution in Kenya, the problem of explosive population growth in Rwanda, which also faces challenges with dealing with political pluralism.
The APRM is a process initiated by NEPAD's founders, among them South African leader Thabo Mbeki, Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade and Obasanjo, to show that Africa was committed to internal self-assessment to create confidence in the leadership.
Rwanda was the first of the 25 countries, which have signed to the internal self-assessment, to undertake the test.
Obasanjo reported to the mini-Summit that Rwanda had emerged as a leader in gender mainstreaming and its experience would benefit all members.
Rwanda, Obasanjo noted, lacked the capacity in dealing with land reforms.
The same problem was reported in Kenya and Ghana, which also faces challenges in dealing with gender issues.
Kenya also faces the problem of dealing with ethnic politics.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo has urged the 25 APRM members to contribute the US$100,000 each, which they agreed to contribute in Abuja, Nigeria.
"This is a paltry sum for all participating countries," he urged.

28 january 2007 12:07:00

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