Civil society groups from 12 East and Horn of Africa countries will gather at the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) in Nairobi from December 6-8 to discuss regional concerns they deem important for the agendas of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries and the European Union next year.
At a press conference on Friday at AMREF headquarters, it was announced that the meeting would discuss east African issues that the Commission for Africa, initiated by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, can bring to the G8 and EU next year when the United Kingdom will hold the rotating presidencies of both organizations.
In March next year, the Commission plans to unveil its action plan for tackling conflicts, debt relief and the doubling of aid to Africa, according to UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka. Mrs. Tibaijuka is one of 17 eminent members of the Commission.
Mrs Tibaijuka who was accompanied by British High Commissioner Sir Edward Clay and AMREF Director General, Dr. Michael Smalley, said the fact that Africa lagged behind other continents in as far as development goes was a matter that needed to be addressed.
“Africa is the only continent which has lagged behind over the last few years. The issue is how does Africa overcome underdevelopment which is not a problem of its people, but a result of historical injustices," she said.
The Commission for Africa was set up in early February this year to spearhead new efforts to tackle the growing governance crisis in Africa, seek solutions to conflicts and enhance aid inflows needed to meet gross poverty cuts across the continent.
The Executive Director, who arrived in Dakar, Senegal this week to attend a similar meeting on West African concerns, was optimistic that the Commission would realize its goals. “The Commission will come up with a proposed set of actions. We will be proposing issues such as calling for donors to honour their commitments for building peace and security in Africa,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
The British High Commissioner reaffirmed his government’s support to African efforts while Mr Smalley was of the opinion that the community’s collective voice had to help set this global agenda for Africa. See also: http://www.unhabitat.org/Reporting to the G8