April 9, 2002

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Canadian Prime Minister in Southern Africa

Leaders of Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia met the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Pretoria to appraise him on progress of the African economic recovery plan known as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and seek his support. Participating African countries were the three members of the NEPAD implementation committee, the African Union chairperson and the SADC troika, while Angola did not attend.

Hailed as the most attractive basis for viable interaction and co-operation between Africa and the international community, NEPAD seeks to eradicate poverty in Africa by fostering sustainable economic growth and development through active participation in the world economy. This long-term development programme places responsibility for development on African countries themselves.

The Canadian prime minister, who is to hold the chairmanship of the G8 in June, has been visiting some African countries to find "the climate for investment in Africa". The Pretoria mini- summit was originally scheduled for Mozambique, but had to be brought forward on short notice so that the Canadian leader could attend the funeral of the British Queen Mothery. As a result, leaders met in South Africa, where Chretien was on a working visit, having also visited Morocco and Algeria.

The G8 members include the world's seven highly industrialised countries and Russia. Canada is among the leading supporters of Africa's economic revival, and is among the few countries that have eliminated all debt owed to it by developing countries.

During the one-day NEPAD summit, Prime Minister Chretien was told about progress made in the recovery plan, shortcomings and expectations from the G8. Among other things, the Canadian leader was briefed on the draft action plans on the various priority sectors and the African Peer Review Mechanism and its parameters of good governance.

At a news conference addressed by South African President Thabo Mbeki and Prime Minister Chretien, Mbeki disclosed that the implementation committee would meet in June to elaborate on a code of conduct for members. This will also draw recommendations and an enforcement mechanism expected to seek governments' adherence to democratic principles and observation of human rights.

Good governance has become a major pre-requisite for G8 countries support for Africa's recovery plan. In exchange, some of the contributions sought include trade liberalisation, debt relief and increased investment. The third and fourth NEPAD Summit meetings and Governments Implementation Committee are expected in Rome, Italy and Durban, South Africa in June and July respectively. (DAILY NEWS ONLINE)

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