Friday, September 24, 2010

Africa Marks Peace Day, Takes Stock

Africa marks Peace Day, takes stock .

Friday, 24 September 2010 00:00
Nigeria Guardian
From Emeka Anuforo, Abuja News

17 African countries converged on Abuja, yesterday to critically examine the last 50 years of nationhood and chart a course for the next 50 years. The conference is coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.

As they mulled over the continent’s fortunes, they were in agreement that only through visioning and consistent planning can they bequeath the Africa of their dreams to the future generations.

The meeting also comes in the wake of the observance of the International Day Of Peace by the African Union (AU). On the occasion, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, through his deputy, Erastus Mwencha, delivered a message to Africans, urging them to shun conflicts.

The experts and leaders from the 17 countries, which clocked 50 years of independence this year, welcomed contribution of finance and ideas from the West, but reasoned that the continent’s progress was primarily in the hands of Africans themselves. They spoke at an international conference on Africa at 50 which dwelt on ‘the promises, gains, discontents, and prospects of the post colonial development.’

To address its developmental challenges as basis for creating sustainable development, the countries agreed to work together. They also agreed to greater application of science and technology as part of broader development strategies in Africa through continental cooperation and accelerated regional integration.

From the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) was a contribution that across the continent, the legacy of colonial domination did not provide the most auspicious of initial conditions through which the post-colonial administrations that were inaugurated could develop the countries they inherited.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed, said: “The default mechanisms for progress in Africa are right here on the continent. Gaining independence has brought with it various challenges of development in all spheres of endeavor, political, economic and social. It is encouraging to note however, that African leaders have taken robust ownership of their development agenda. Conflict resolution is now recognized as key to our progress as a people. Leaders are also pushing for greater accountability in economic, public financial management and political governance.

“More African states are today choosing democratic governance as against military or authoritarian regimes. Actions are being taken to improve the region’s reputation by embracing international best practices in good governance.”

Examining the poverty situation in Africa, he called for concerted efforts towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the continent.

“We are committed to reducing poverty level by at least halve- and this the proportion of people who suffer from hunger-by 2015.Time is not on our side, as this is only five years away. The implication is that Africa must achieve higher levels of economic activities as well as attract substantial foreign direct investment to our continent.”

Minister of National Planning, Shamsuddeen Usman stressed that the Africa at 50 programme was an opportunity for the countries to look back and reflect on the continent’s achievements, challenges and prospects for its future development, since the exit from colonial rule.

“Fifty years ago, the wind of change was blowing momentum towards achieving self rule, in a significant number of African countries. We must all acknowledge here that the liberation struggle carried out by our forefathers was not an easy one. They had to make a lot of promises in order to win popular support, which raises a number of questions including whether these promises have been fulfilled. What are the gains of the last 50 years and the prospects for the next 50 years for the continent, under post colonial rule?”

He went on: “Over the 50 years, great strides have been made, but huge opportunities have also been missed. Today, the African population is much bigger than at independence. In addition, despite all challenges, the African population is more educated, more socially differentiated, and more youthful than ever, signaling, positive potentials for the continent, if we all worked harder. We are presented with a distinct opportunity at this time, a chance examine the last 50 years, so as to ensure a brighter future for our continent.”

Chronicling 50 years of post-independence African development, Director of the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, noted that indeed some progress was registered, even as opportunities were lost and failures abound.

“If there are lessons to be drawn, they could be summarized as centering on: the important role which effective, adequately capacitated states can and must play in the overall governance of the development agenda and process, including strategic visioning, long-term development agenda and process, including strategic visioning, long-term development thinking and planning, and the co-ordination of the state-market-business interfaces; the necessity for ensuring that macro-economic policy is geared to generate long-term growth anchored on the real sectors of the economy and calibrated to target employment; the organic inter-connection between pro-growth macro-economic policy and a social policy that is inclusive in a dialectic that ensures that the one enables and reinforces the others; the centrality of democratic governance to the agenda of state and nation-building between the state and the market in the development process; and the importance of the development of the home and regional markets as part of a broader strategy of development.”

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