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DECLARATION ON AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES

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  • minush@aol.com
    Dear all, for your interest, forwarded below is the DECLARATION ON AFRICA S DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES, adopted at end of Joint CODESRIA-TWN-AFRICA Conference on
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2002
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      Dear all,
      for your interest, forwarded below is the
      DECLARATION ON AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES,
      adopted at end of Joint CODESRIA-TWN-AFRICA Conference on Africa's
      Development Challenges in the Millennium, Accra 23-26 April, 2002).
      Best wishes
      Minu

      __________________________________________

      From: Bryan Ashe <bryan@m...>
      Date: Tue Apr 30, 2002 2:46 pm
      Subject: (ELAWSSD) FW: Accra declaration
      To: ELA WSSD LIST <ELAWSSD@t...>


      DECLARATION ON AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES
      (Adopted at end of Joint CODESRIA- TWN-AFRICA Conference on Africa's
      Development Challenges in the Millennium, Accra 23-26 April, 2002)

      From the 23 to 26 April, 2002, we, African scholars and activist
      intellectuals working in academic institutions, civil society organisations
      and policy institutions from 20 countries in Africa, as well as colleagues
      and friends from Asia, Europe, North America and South America met at a
      conference jointly organised by the Council for Development and Social
      Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Third World Network-Africa
      (TWN-Africa) to deliberate on Africa's developmental challenges in the new
      millennium.
      Our deliberations covered such issues as Africa's initiatives for addressing
      development; Africa and the world trading system; mobilising financing for
      development in Africa; citizenship, democracy and development; education,
      health social services and development, and gender equity and equality in
      development.
      Challenges to the space of Africa's own thinking on development
      In our deliberations, we recalled the series of initiatives by Africans
      themselves aimed at addressing the developmental challenges of Africa, in
      particular the Lagos Plan of Action and the companion African Alternative
      Framework for Structural Adjustment. Each time, these initiatives were
      counteracted and ultimately undermined by policy frameworks developed from
      outside the continent and imposed on African countries. Over the past
      decades, a false consensus has been generated around the neo-liberal paradigm
      promoted through the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade
      Organisation. This stands to crowd out the rich tradition of Africa's own
      alternative thinking on development. It is in this context that the
      proclaimed African initiative, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development
      (NEPAD), which was developed in the same period as the United Nations
      Economic Commission for Africa’s Compact for African Recovery, as well as the
      World Bank’s Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?, were discussed.
      The meeting noted the uneven progress of democratisation and in particular of
      the expansion of space for citizen expression and participation. It also
      acknowledged the contribution of citizen's struggles and activism to this
      expansion of the political space, and for putting critical issues of
      development on the public agenda
      External and internal obstacles to Africa's economic development
      The meeting noted that the challenges confronting Africa's development come
      from two inter-related sources: (a) constraints imposed by the hostile
      international economic and political order within which our economies
      operate; and (b) domestic weaknesses deriving from socio-economic and
      political structures and neo-liberal structural adjustment policies.
      The main elements of the hostile global order include, first, the fact that
      African economies are integrated into the global economy as exporters of
      primary commodities and importers of manufactured products, leading to terms
      of trade losses. Reinforcing this, secondly, have been the policies of
      liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation as well as an unsound package
      of macro-economic policies imposed through structural adjustment
      conditionality by the World Bank and the IMF. These have now been
      institutionalised within the WTO through rules, agreements and procedures,
      which are biased against our countries. Finally, the just mentioned
      external and internal policies and structures have combined to generate
      unsustainable and unjustifiable debt burden which has crippled Africa’s
      economies and undermined the capacity of Africa’s ownership of strategies for
      development .
      The external difficulties have exacerbated the internal structural imbalances
      of our economies, and, together with neo-liberal structural adjustment
      policies, inequitable socio-economic and political structures, have led the
      to disintegration of our economies and increased social and gender inequity.
      In particular, our manufacturing industries have been destroyed; agricultural
      production (for food and other domestic needs is in crisis; public services
      have been severely weakened; and the capacity of states and governments in
      Africa to make and implement policies in support of balanced and equitable
      national development emasculated. The costs associated with these have
      fallen disproportionately on marginalized and subordinated groups of our
      societies, including workers, peasants, small producers. The impact has been
      excessively severe on women and children.
      Indeed, the developments noted above have reversed policies and programmes
      and have dismantled institutions in place since independence to create and
      expand integrated production across and between our economies in agriculture,
      industry, commerce, finance, and social services. These were programmes and
      institutions which have, in spite of their limitations, sought to address the
      problems of weak internal markets and fragmented production structures as
      well as economic imbalances and social inequities within and between nations
      inherited from colonialism, and to redress the inappropriate integration of
      our economies in the global order. The associated social and economic gains,
      generated over this period have been destroyed.
      The above informed our reflections on the NEPAD. We concluded that, while
      many of its stated goals may be well-intentioned, the development vision and
      economic measures that it canvases for the realisation of these goals are
      flawed. As a result, NEPAD will not contribute to addressing the
      developmental problems mentioned above. On the contrary, it will reinforce
      the hostile external environment and the internal weaknesses that constitute
      the major obstacles to Africa's development. Indeed, in certain areas like
      debt, NEPAD steps back from international goals that have been won through
      global mobilisation and struggle.
      The most fundamental flaws of NEPAD, which reproduce the central elements of
      the World Bank’s Can Africa Claim the 21st Century and the ECA’s Compact for
      African Recovery, include:
      (a) the neo-liberal economic policy framework at the heart of the plan, and
      which repeats the structural adjustment policy packages of the preceding two
      decades and over-looks the disastrous effects of those policies;

      (b) the fact that in spite of its proclaimed recognition of the central role
      of the African people to the plan, the African people have not played any
      part in the conception, design and formulation of the NEPAD;

      (c) notwithstanding its stated concerns for social and gender equity, it
      adopts the social and economic measures that have contributed to the
      marginalisation of women

      (d) that in spite of claims of African origins, its main targets are foreign
      donors, particularly in the G8

      (e) its vision of democracy is defined by the needs of creating a functional
      market;

      (f) it under-emphasises the external conditions fundamental to Africa's
      developmental crisis, and thereby does not promote any meaningful measure to
      manage and restrict the effects of this environment on Africa development
      efforts. On the contrary, the engagement that is seeks with institutions and
      processes like the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO, the United States Africa
      Growth and Opportunity Act, the Cotonou Agreement, will further lock Africa's
      economies disadvantageously into this environment;

      (g) the means for mobilisation of resources will further the disintegration
      of African economies that we have witnessed at the hands of structural
      adjustment and WTO rules;

      Call for Action
      To address the developmental problems and challenges identified above, we
      call for action at the national, continental and international levels to
      implement the measures described below.
      In relation to the external environment, action must be taken towards
      stabilisation of commodity prices; reform of the international financial
      system (to prevent debt, exchange rate instability and capital flow
      volatility) as well as of the World Bank and the IMF; an end to IMF/World
      Bank structural adjustment programmes; and fundamental changes to the
      existing agreements of the WTO regime, as well as stop the attempts to
      expand the scope to this regime to new areas including investment,
      competition and government procurement. Most pressing of all, Africa's debt
      must be cancelled.
      At the local, national and regional levels, development policy must promote
      agriculture, industry, services including health and public education, and
      must be protected and supported through appropriate trade, investment and
      macro-economic policy measures. A strategy for financing must seek to
      mobilise and build on internal and intra-African resources through
      imaginative savings measures; reallocation of expenditure away from wasteful
      items including excessive military expenditure, corruption and mismanagement;
      creative use of remittances of Africans living abroad; corporate taxation;
      retention and re-investment of foreign profits; and the prevention of capital
      flight, and the leakage of resources through practices of tax evasion
      practised by foreign investors and local elites. Foreign investment while
      necessary, must be carefully balanced and selected to suit national
      objectives.
      Above all, these measures require the reconstitution of the developmental
      state: a state for which social equity, social inclusion, national unity and
      respect for human rights form the basis of economic policy; a state which
      actively promotes, and nurtures the productive sectors of the economy;
      actively engages appropriately in the equitable and balanced allocation and
      distribution of resources among sectors and people; and most importantly a
      state that is democratic and which integrates people's control over decision
      making at all levels in the management, equitable use and distribution of
      social resources.
      The Challenge for African scholars and activist intellectuals
      Recognising that, by raising anew the question of Africa's development as an
      Africa-wide concern, NEPAD has brought to the fore the question of Africa's
      autonomous initiatives for development, we will engage with the issues raised
      in NEPAD as part of our efforts to contribute to the debate and discussions
      on African development.
      In support of our broader commitment to contribute to addressing Africa's
      development challenges, we undertake to work both collectively and
      individually, in line with our capacities, skills and institutional location,
      to promote a renewed continent-wide engagement on Africa's own development
      initiatives. To this end, we shall deploy our research, training and
      advocacy skills and capacities to contribute to the generation and
      dissemination of knowledge of the issues at stake; engage with and
      participate in the mobilisation of social groups around their interests and
      appropriate strategies of development; and engage with governments and policy
      institutions at local, national, regional and continental levels. We shall
      continue our collaboration with our colleagues in the global movement.
      Furthermore, we call,
      (a) for the reassertion of the primacy of the question and paradigm of
      national and regional development on the agenda of social discourse and
      intellectual engagement and advocacy;;

      (b) on Africa's scholars and activist intellectuals within African and in the
      Diaspora, to join forces with social groups whose interests and needs are
      central to the development of Africa;

      (c) African scholars and activist intellectuals and organisations to direct
      their research and advocacy to some of the pressing questions that confront
      African policy and decision making at international levels (in particular
      negotiations in the WTO and under the Cotonou agreement), and domestically
      and regionally;

      (d) upon our colleagues in the global movement, to strengthen our common
      struggles, in solidarity. We ask our colleagues in the North to intervene
      with their governments on behalf of our struggles, and our colleagues in the
      South to strengthen South-South co-operation.

      We pledge ourselves to carry forward the positions and conclusions of this
      conference. And we encourage CODESRIA and TWN-Africa to explore, together
      with other interested parties, mechanisms and processes for follow-up to the
      deliberations and conclusions of this conference.
      Accra, April 26, 2002.

      ___________________________________


      Dr Minu Hemmati
      Stakeholder Forum For Our Common Future
      (formerly UNED Forum)
      3 Whitehall Court
      London SW1A 2EL
      UK
      Tel +44 207 8397171
      Fax +44 207 9305893
      Mobile +44 7949 777 453
      Email minush@...
      Web www.unedforum.org AND www.earthsummit2002.org


      "Economic rationality is simply not the highest value. It is a tool to
      calculate costs and benefits, only one part of the large equation concerning
      human welfare."
      Kim Stanley Robinson (Blue Mars)
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