Ministerial Statement

  1. We, the Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Economic Development and Planning of Africa, having met in Algiers, Algeria, from 8 to 10 May 2001, at our Joint Conference under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, have reached consensus on a number of critically important issues.

  2. We agree on the overall vision for Africa’s development: a prosperous continent free of conflict in which all our people can fulfil their potential, that participates effectively in the global economy on an equal footing. We concur on the challenges we face in making that vision a reality. We concur on the fundamentals for faster and more sustained economic growth convinced with poverty reduction including food security. We recognise the requirement to build our development upon a foundation of effective governance, sound macro-economic management and partnership with a vibrant private sector and civil society.

  1. Challenges the next few years.

  1. Achieving our goals and vision demands a wide range of actions. We have identified properties to pursue, at the national, susbregional and regional levels. The fist priorities are the actions that we must ourselves take to improve governance and to build our capacities.

  2. Effective governance is the foundation for sustainable development and poverty reduction and improved human wellbeing. This entails a state that, inter alia, respects the rule of law, ensures peace and stability, and enables full participation of citizens. We particularly underscore the importance of transparent and accountable public management systems. A dialogue on governance in Africa will allow us to share lessons and experiences, identifying capacity needs and best practices.

  3. In this regard, we welcome and encourage ECA’s work, which provides a regorous analytical framework for examining and improving governance. We encourage ECA’s ongoing work in promoting good governance and other key areas and we took forward to participating in peer reviews.

  4. We welcome the urgent attention given to Africa’s health crises, noting that a healthy population is an absolute requirement for social and economic development. We recognize the immense challenges posed by HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. We note that the key finding of ECA’s African Development Forum 2000 on leadership to meet the challenge of HIV/AIDS is the need to mobilize all sectors. We are pleased that the OAU Abuja Summit held last month endorsed and adopted the Forum’s "African Consensus and Plan of Action" on HIV/AIDS.

  5. Preventing the transmission of HIV and other communicable diseases and providing care and treatment for those affected, poses far-reaching leadership challenges including strengthening delivery systems. We must mobilize more resources to address health challenges. We note that the Abuja Summit recommended significantly higher national budget allocations for public health. Thus, we welcome the initiative of the UN Secretary General to create a Global Fund for HIV/AIDS in the order of $7-10 billion per year and we urge that such funds be provided on a grant basis. We also encourage collaborative efforts by Africa and the private sector to lower the costs of critically important medications to the bare minimum.

  6. There are human capacity issues involved in almost all of our development challenges. We not the priority of providing education to our citizens as reinforced by the World Education Forum last April in Dakar. Meeting the International Development Goals in education in Africa will require bold and sustained leadership based upon innovative planning and finance. 

  7. Information and communications technologies hold the promise of enormous positive influence on our countries’ economic and social development. We urge the development of ICT as an integral component of our continents’ national and regional development agenda. To this end, we recommend that the necessary economic, institutional, social, legal and fiscal environment be established to boost ICT in our countries. We call upon our international partners to treat ICT as a special priority for Africa’s development. Hence we invite them to consider launching a special initiative to support harnessing of ICT for development as defined in the African Information Society Initiative and updated in the African Development Forum 1999. We urge that Africa’s ICT priorities be specifically addressed by the G-8’s Dot Force and the UN ECOSOC’s IT initiative, among others.

  8. The complex problems of financing development through aid, debt reform and trade, pose a number of pressing issues which we have addressed in this and previous ECA Conference and which require deepened and improved partnership with the international community.

  9. Every serious analysis of our development prospects concludes that notwithstanding critical tasks we must do ourselves, making a clear breakthrough to higher growth in most of our countries requires a significant increase in official development assistance. At the same time, we fully recongnize that while much has been accomplished with aid, the record of aid effectiveness has been quite mixed. In this context, we call for a fundamental transformation of the aid relationship based on principles of African leadership and ownership of visions and goals for development, stable long-tern resource flows, a transformed partnership based on mutual accountability and commitment towards shared development outcomes, and recognition of Africa’s diversity. 

  10. We wish to underscore the importance of the diversity of our economies. There are countries making solid progress towards establishing strong institutional capacitates for sustainable development, including a sound macroeconomic foundation, effective governance, and peace and stability. There are also a range of other countries and, including those mired in conflict and those emerging from conflict. In addition, there are the challenges faced by small island and land-locked countries. Different policies are required by countries and, in turn, appropriate responses are needed from the international community to the range of circumstances present in Africa.  

  11. We recognise the recent evolution of development cooperation based on the diverse circumstances and performance of African countries. First, where countries have established or are well on the way to establishing an enabling environment for sustainable development and poverty reduction including effective public management systems, they can absorb a full range of enhanced assistance, including budget support and predictable long term commitments, aimed at achieving major development goals. These countries have the conditions in place to effectively use expanded aid flows. Second, where countries are some distance from putting in place these governance and macro-economic fundamentals, concerted internal efforts and focused international support should be able to bring these countries to the point where they can take advantage of a fuller range of development support. Thirdly those countries emerging from conflict require different strategies and support to enable them to resume the course of development. Support to such countries should be flexible and, in regards to debt arrears, should be generally handled. In this regard, we welcome special mechanisms, such as Post-Conflict Fund, recently proposed by the World Bank. The objective is to help move all countries as rapidly as possible to the point where the can take advantage of a full range of enhanced assistance.

  12. We believe that a more rapid and sustainable exit from debt is imperative. We urge a more rapid implementation of an enhanced and expanded HIPC. Eighteen African countries have now reached their decision point under the enhanced HIPC framework but of these only one has reached its completion point and six more could do so during 2001. We also urge the World Bank and the IMF to provide the necessary technical assistance and policy support to help advance the remaining African HIPC countries to the decision point and expedite those that have reached decision point to reach their completion point. But, we note that the debt situation of a number of non-HIPC including middle-income African countries is still to be resolved. Realizing that inclusion of these countries in programs of relief may well require additional resources from the international community, including collateral and guarantees for new bond flotation and partial remission of debts, we urge recognition of the stakes for all of Africa in finding solutions to this issues. We therefor urge the international community and in particular the G-8 to initiate a review of the individual debt problems of these hard-pressed African countries and to launch a joint process with each one aimed at achieving a sustainable debt position. We also appeal to the international community to augment resources necessary for a responsible HIPC program and to provide debt relief to other needy cases.

  13. We reaffirm our belief that trade will continue to generate essential resources to finance development. We underscore the need to rejuvenate the commodity sector, including by identifying ways and means to regain market share. While we acknowledge the recent European Union commitment to remove duties on "all but arms," we urge all international partners to remove all further barriers to trade--in particular tariff peaks and tariff escalation. Particular urgency is required for the provision of duty free, quotation free access for essentially all products originating from low-income African countries. We also call for simplification and harmonization of existing rules of origin to help ensure that African countries benefit from the market opportunities granted, in particular, by value-added production.

  14. We agree that Africa’s position at both the Third Conference on Least Developed Countries and at the Qatar Conference of the World Trade Organization should be to advocate that the next round of trade negotiations should be a "Development Round." A development round should be based on the principle of fairness to the developing countries and be particularly responsive to the aspirations of African countries. During the Uruguay Round negotiations the rich countries pursued the interests of their most powerful political constituencies. The weaknesses in the capacity of the poor countries to link their trade issues with their broad and complex development agenda meant that their core interests were not considered for negotiation; nor were they adequately prepared to press the case and obtain more favourable outcomes. The development round must lead to legitimate environmental and labor concerns being implemented fairly and not by capricious unilateral actions. The development round must lead to wide-ranging mechanisms to ensure increased resource flows to poor countries. It should also lead to effective technical assistance to enable the fuller and fairer integration of the poorest countries into the global trading system. To these ends, African countries should have a common position and act together in the next trade round.

  15. We also endorse the long-term goal of reducing and ultimately ending dependence upon aid. This requires far more reliance far more reliance upon domestic and foreign private investment, which, in turn, underlines the need for governance reforms and macro-economic management in many of our countries.

  16. Globalization is both a reality and long-term opportunity for Africa. But to take advantage of this opportunity requires an increase in our competitiveness fostered by and expansion of our internal markets. We are committed to accelerating the regionalization of our continent. To this end we take added national measures to promote inter-regional linkages in transportation and communications as well as to harmonize our trade are regimes.

  1. The Compact for African Recovery: Operationalizing the African initiative

  1. Because of our shared vision and our shared commitment to face the challenges outlined above, we welcome the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme (MAP) led by President Mbeki, Obasanjo and Bouteflika, and the OMEGA Plan proposed by President Wade of Senegal, which were presented in Sirte, Libya, to the African Heads of State and Government. We support the recommendation of our African leaders to work towards a single intuitive. We concur that such an initiative should provide an appropriate framework for Africa’s development.

  2. In this spirit, we have considered the Compact for African Recovery tabled by ECA. We recall that the Eighth Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance held in November 2000, adopted a resolution requesting the Executive Secretary to develop a Compact for Africa’s Renewal. We congratulate the ECA for the quality of the document on the Compact for African Recovery, which has been articulated by ECA in response to this request. We strongly encourage ECA as a facilitating and promoting instrument for the integrated initiative and to continue working with the leaders of this integrated initiative as they continue to develop it. 

  1. Concluding Issues

  1. We believe that our joint Conferences--namely Africa’s Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Economic Development and Planning--are useful and appropriate forums for discussion of the agendas ahead of us in the foreseeable future. We have hereby decided that these Conferences should be merged and henceforth should meet annually. Recongizing the importance of a single initiative of African heads of State, we request the ECA to schedule its next joint conference to examine the most effective way we can help to implement it. In this respect, we call upon ECA to undertake the necessary preparations for convening that meeting.

  2. We note with satisfaction the Regional Cooperation Framework presented by UNDP, which, developed in close cooperation with ECA, will make an important contribution to the achievement of the new vision for Africa.

  3. We thank our experts who did not excellent job to prepare us for this meeting. We also deeply appreciate the role of the secretariat of the Economic Commission for Africa for its extensive and effective preparation of the Conference.

  4. We also appreciate very much the warm hospitality and leadership shown by President Bouteflika and the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria in graciously hosting this Conference.