More than 100 participants converged at the Speke Resort in Kampala last week for a Commission for Africa (CFA) consultation workshop with calls for greater attention to problems facing the African continent.
Speakers at the meeting decried the ills facing Africa and said if meaningful development was to occur, these problems must be addressed urgently. Among those who spoke at the workshop included UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, herself a commissioner on the CFA and Uganda 's Prime Minister Prof. Apollo Nsibambi and Prof. William Kalema, a commissioner on CFA.
Mrs. Tibaijuka told the participants that the CFA consultations were organized to ensure greater inclusiveness and ownership by Africans and all those concerned with the problems of the continent, and those who feel they would like to make a contribution in the formulation of ideas to solve the problems that has made Africa, to use Prime Minister Tony Blair's own words “a scar on the world's conscience”.
“Today 6,000 African children will die of water related diseases and complications and 7,000 Africans will die of AIDS. The same number died yesterday, and I regret to state that the same number will die tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and unless things improved, the daily death toll could rise. Africa is a continent in perpetual crises, and this fact is yet to register properly among ourselves and the international community. This learned audience knows that Africa is the only continent in the world where in the past two decades, income per capita has been on the decline, and today nearly half of the African population lives on less than $1 a day,” she said.
According to the Executive Director, at a time when the rest of the world- including the rest of the developing world- was experiencing rapid economic growth, Africa 's proportion of world trade has gone down from 3% in 1990 to 1% in 2003. She said the high incidence of Malaria was costing the continent almost $12 billion in lost revenue per annum while at the same time, Africa wasurbanizing faster than any other continent adding that unfortunately, up to 72% of the urban population lives in slums or informal settlements.
Mrs. Tibaijuka's said that balance and realism require that Africans exploit every opportunity that raises the profile of the continent and its plight, thereby enhancing the momentum for international action to fulfill past promises and to meet newer targets like the UN Millennium Development Goals. Prime Minister Blair had, out of his own vision and concern for the continent come up with the Commission for Africa (CFA), she said adding she was convinced the least Africans can do is to take him seriously, and play, as Mwalimu Nyerere would say “our part”.
Trends on settlements in many African countries was worrying, Mrs. Tibaijuka said and cited as examples of Kampala in Uganda, Nairobi in Kenya and Dakar in Senegal.
In his message, Prof. Nsibambi said that the establishment of CFA was a positive indication of a new commitment by the developed nations, and Britain in particular, to work in partnership with Africa in solving problems of development on the continent.
“I couldn't agree more with the Commission's motto ‘Action for a strong and prosperous Africa '. This is precisely what we need right now. Action. The problems and the solutions are well known,” he said
According to the Prime Minister the problem is not simply one of insufficient foreign aid. “Far more important than money, we need an African Vision for social, political, and economic transformation, and we need to organise our societies with discipline and clarity of purpose. Notwithstanding the goodwill of our friends abroad, the salvation of Africa will come from Africans themselves,” he said.
The Commission for Africa has completed its consultation programme in Africa . Over 500 individuals from 49 countries consulted in 5 open civil society consultation events, business consultation events took place in each of the five regions and online consultations generated good responses For more information on the consultation and on the Commission for Africa , please visit: http://www.commissionforafrica.com/