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AFRICA PARTNERSHIP FORUM MEETING

NEPAD Dialogue - Focus on Africa
Issue 112 - 13 October 2005

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AFRICA PARTNERSHIP FORUM MEETING
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, underlined his commitment, both personally and as President of the G8 group of nations and the European Union (EU), to ensuring that promises made to Africa were honoured, when he addressed the 5th meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum (APF) in London on 4-5 October 2005.

The meeting was co-chaired by the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, and on behalf of Nigeria as Presidency of the AU, by Ambassador Tunji Olagunju, Chair of NEPAD Steering Committee and Finance Minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as well as NEPAD Chief Executive Prof. Firmino Mucavele.

Dr M Mkwezalamba, of the AU Commission for Economic Affairs, delivered a statement on behalf of the African Union.

Members of the Forum discussed how the Africa Partnership Forum can help address the great challenges facing Africa. They welcomed the unprecedented attention that Africa had received during 2005, including at the EU Council in May, the G8 Summit in Gleneagles and the UN Millennium Review Summit.

Commitments have been made by Africa and by its development partners, and the Forum agreed that the focus now must be on implementation.

In stressing his commitment to the honouring of promises to Africa the British Prime Minister said this must be part of a continuing process and he emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach.

He said the Forum had to get a successful outcome on trade at the WTO Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December, and expressed his determination to do so. He described the Forumís work as of enormous importance for the future.

Britainís Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, also addressed the Forum and stressed the importance of scaling up efforts to improve access to education and health, and of frontloading investment in development.

Role of African Partnership Forum
Members agreed that the APF is a unique forum where the members work together as equals. Its broad membership and remit allow it to monitor and advance implementation of commitments affecting Africaís development

It is a key forum for discussion of policy and priorities at a senior political level and, although it is not an implementation or funding body, its value lies in facilitating and catalysing action by others.

The APF has a particularly important role in ensuring progress on cross-border, regional and continental priorities and mechanisms. Members agreed on the importance of building capacity for delivery at the regional level.

The Forum agreed on revised terms of reference for the APF, reflecting decisions made at the meeting.

AU/NEPAD Joint Action Plan
The AU/NEPAD introduced the African Action Plan, a product of wide consultations involving Ministers of Finance, Regional Economic Communities and experts.

The UK on behalf of the development partners introduced a second draft paper seeking to reflect agreed priorities and actions to be taken for the development of Africa.

The Forum agreed that there should be one Joint Action Plan bringing together the commitments that Africa and its development partners have made. This will assist the Forum in its role in recording, monitoring and reporting on delivery of financing and policy commitments, identifying issues and difficulties and agreeing the way forward.

The Action Plan will be focused on policies and outcomes and should have clear, time-bound benchmarks against which progress can be measured and monitored.

There will be an annual report, measuring progress against some or all elements of the Plan, beginning in October 2006. To ensure meaningful value added, the Forum will focus each year on identified key priority areas.

The OECDís presentation on financing prospects noted that, if commitments are met, there will be an additional US$25 billion a year in aid for Africa available by 2010. These additional resources underlined the need for improvements to aid effectiveness, including implementation by development partners of the Paris Declaration commitments.

Support Unit to be established
The Forum agreed that a small Support Unit should be established to prepare Forum meetings. It will work closely with AU/NEPAD Secretariat using joint task teams to support the APF. It will report to the APF through the Co-Chairs and will not duplicate the role of other institutions.

The Forum thanked the Secretary-General of the OECD for his offer to host the Support Unit at the OECD. It will be fully funded by voluntary contributions (including contributions in-kind) for an initial period of three years within a fixed budget ceiling; several delegations expressed their willingness to contribute.

The African Peer Review process
Prof. Adebayo Adedeji gave a presentation on how the APRM process is being carried out and representatives of Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal discussed their practical experience of the process.

The Forum recognised the APRM mechanism as a very significant development that will enhance governance.

The next meeting of the APF will take place in April 2006 in Africa. Russia, as G8 Presidency, will host the APF meeting scheduled for October 2006.

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