Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Nairobi (Fides Service)- Development policies in East Africa will be the main subject for discussion at the regional meeting of NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development which opens tomorrow 29 October in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. Participants will include government leaders from Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. The meeting will discuss a document prepared by experts in the 11 participating countries on ways to pull the region out of the pit of underdevelopment. Problems preventing development in Africa mentioned by the experts include: poor infrastructures, unemployment, low flow of capital, no access to world markets for local farm produce. Another serious problem weighing on the future of Africa is the spread of diseases such as AIDS and malaria which rob human resources from already weak economies in countries with a scarcity of trained youth.
NEPAD participants have chosen as a priority for discussion: improvement of regional infrastructures. They will also examine a plan for an optic fibre network to connect Africa with the rest of the world.
New Partnership for Africa's Development NEPAD, was established in Abuja (Nigeria) in October 2001 by heads of state and government of South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria and Egypt. Its aim is to reduce the enormous gap between standards of living in Africa and the rest of the world. A few figures suffice to give an idea of the situation: average life expectancy in Africa is 54 compared to 70 in Europe; only 58% of Africans have access to clean water; there are 18 telephone lines for every 1000 Africans compared to 567 for every 1000 people in developed countries.
NEPAD was mentioned recently by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent Observer to the United Nations when he addressed a general Assembly. The Archbishop called on rich countries to make a courageous and generous effort to eliminate the foreign debt of poor countries and to assign 7% of the national gross product to aid for development. (L.M.) (Fides Service 28/10/2003, lines 32 words 365)