Strategic partners want Africa to drive its own development agenda

UNECA In less than two years the Strategic Partners’ Dialogue on Africa’s development has made significant strides in such key areas as results-based management and the establishment of joint financing arrangements between AUC and its partners in support of AUC priorities, but a lot remains to be done, the group said at the end of their Second Session held last week.

A joint communiqué issued in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the weekend states that members were unanimous in their support for Africa to continue taking the lead in driving its own development, which is reshaping the relationship with its development partners according to the Information and Communication Service of the ECA.

“In this regard, assistance from development partners would need to be aligned and coherent with the priorities set by Africa at all levels in line with the new paradigm shift in development cooperation”, it adds.

Members noted with satisfaction the progress made by Dialogue members in “terms of improvement in the collaboration of pan African institutions, with the joint organisation of this forum as well as the operationalization of the Joint Secretariat AUC-ECA-AfDB, serious challenges remain to be addressed in a good number of strategic areas,

The communiqué identifies these areas as comprising the promotion of trade and investment in Africa; resource mobilization; promotion of regional and continental infrastructure; and the consolidation of strategic partnerships for Africa’s development.

The Strategic Partners’ Dialogue on Africa’s development that was meeting for the second time since its launch in December 2009 is arguably one of the most influential meetings on the continent, observers say.

It brings together high-ranking representatives from development institutions such as the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) present – EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, COMESA and IGAD.

Other partners present were diplomats and development economists from Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, League of Arab States, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom as well as from the United States of America.

According to the communiqué, participants reaffirmed the “usefulness of this forum as a platform for policy makers from partner capitals to engage with the leadership of pan African institutions to foster better understanding of the strategic interests of all parties”.

Within the framework of the Paris and Accra principles on aid effectiveness, the communiqué states that a framework for AUC and AU Partners’ Budget Cooperation and Mutual Accountability as well as for Joint Programme Arrangements to reduce transaction costs has also been developed.

In the area of promotion of trade and investment in Africa, they expressed concern at the lack of progress in achieving sustainable results, particularly for African countries in the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations.

In this regard, members underscored the need to exert efforts to address the outstanding issues that are making it difficult to conclude an ambitious and development-friendly Doha Round while exploring other trade-related initiatives such as EPAs and AGOA and their impact on regional integration.

Regarding mobilization of resources of Pan African institutions to finance development and growth, it was noted that there is a “need to rethink external development finance by providing a sustainable and efficient solution to the debt of poor countries, reinstate productive capital and promote innovative financing mechanisms, including exploring options linked to international financial transactions”.

In particular, the communiqué calls on African countries to make progress on domestic resource mobilization by strengthening their tax systems and private sector and by exploring mechanisms for alternative sources of funding, “including those that have been pioneered by RECs, as well as improving management of natural resources revenues, exploring carbon trading, mobilising Diaspora and promoting intra-African trade”.

Calls were also made on the need to promote regional and continental infrastructure for integration and growth. The partners expressed deep concern about the fact that weak infrastructure continues to constrain regional integration and development in Africa. In this regard, it was noted that there is a need to assist African countries in their efforts to scale-up investments and close the huge financing gap in infrastructure development within the context of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) through the following actions, the communiqué states.

They agreed that to ensure coherence and create synergies at all levels, national infrastructure development plans should be aligned to PIDA, taking into account the lessons learned from the integration of CAADP at the national level; and advised that the strategic partnership should support the ongoing work of the High-level Panel for Infrastructure Investment, set up by the G20 to ensure that it takes account of Africa’s infrastructure financing needs.

On the important issue of building and leveraging strategic partnerships for Africa’s development, it was emphasized that development partners would need to align their support with African priorities on the basis of Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and Accra Action Plans, using the example of CAADP as a good practice.

The Joint Secretariat AUC-UNECA-AfDB was charged with the responsibility for organizing the next Strategic Partners’ Dialogue, in collaboration with the RECs and partners.

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