Ban urges intl community to do more for Africa

Monday, February 2, 2009

Addis Ababa - UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon has called on the international community to take into account the needs of Africa's poorest countries.

Addressing the opening of the 12th ordinary summit of Heads of State and Government on Monday, Mr Ban said aid for Africa was crucial and would lead to growth, trade and financial flows as well as the fight against poverty.

"It is the healthy, well-nourished and educated people who will drive development and prosperity on this continent."

The summit's main agenda, he said, was to find ways to boost Africa's energy and transport networks, adding that efforts would be focused on specific projects, which constitute the core of concerns and the daily aspiration of Africa's people.

He said Africa needed good roads, schools and hospitals as well as reliable and efficient water services, electricity grids and telecom networks while information and communications technologies must also be a bigger part of Africa's future.

"These remain the building blocks for job creation and the ability to compete in global markets," said Mr Ban.

Addressing the impact of the global financial crisis, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Jean Ping noted that it had proved necessary for Africa's voice to be heard in the making of world economic decisions.

He mentioned that the AU will seek participation at the G20 summit in London to represent the continent of Africa.

Regarding food shortage experienced by the African people, Mr Ping said African countries will make medium and long-term plans to support the agriculture sector in order to tackle the problem.

He further said Africa should step up infrastructure development in order to boost the physical integration of the continent.

"The choosing of this theme (development in Africa) is a signal for the acceleration of physical integration of the continent and it reflected the determination to alternate from thinking to action in regard of improving African countries' infrastructure conditions," he said.

Regarding the AU Commission, Mr Ping said it would seek institutional capacity building and shore up efficiency through investment on financial and human resources.

The first day of the Summit on Sunday had been dominated by intense closed-door debates on the future of the AU, with Libya leading calls for the creation of a new continent-wide government to create a union government for Africa.