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The Future of the State of Africa

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

By Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Michel Camdessus
The Huffington Post

Africa's potential is often overlooked. Yet the continent abounds in untapped natural and human resources. The United Nations, for example, estimates that there are over 800 million hectares of unused, cultivable land that could provide the basis for a green revolution in food production -- land which could be used to tackle food shortages in Africa and in other continents.

The remarkable progress that Africa has made in the past decade is also not widely recognized. Across the continent there are numerous success stories. We have seen the spread of free and fair elections, an increase in school enrollment rates and determined efforts to combat malaria. The boom in mobile phones has transformed communication and helped business.

The tragedy is that when millions of Africans believed their countries and continent were finally on the right track, their hopes are being dashed by problems whose roots lie elsewhere. While the global crisis and climate change are creations of the North, it is Africa which is worst affected and least able to cope. The social and political consequences are profound.

Yesterday, the Africa Progress Panel, on which we sit, launched its 2009 State of Africa report in Cape Town. We recognize that the roots of the development crisis often begin outside Africa. But the reality is that the main responsibility for tackling the challenges Africa faces lies with its own leaders.

This does not mean that the rest of the world can walk away. Africa's international partners have a critical part to play in supporting the continent's progress, and share responsibility for tackling imported problems. They also have an interest to do so: social tension and political instability in Africa have clear international costs and consequences.

At a time when other financial flows are dropping, G8 and donor countries have an even greater responsibility to honor their international aid commitments and to ensure that global deals, whether on trade, climate change, intellectual property, illicit drugs, crime or migration, are supportive of Africa's development needs. Aid, effectively used, can leverage other financial flows, strengthen capacities and meet urgent social and humanitarian needs....(Click for remainder.)


A Different Discussion About Aid

By Pres. Paul Kagame
President of the Republic of Rwanda
The Huffingon Post

The United States of America has just sent a small number of its sons and daughters as Peace Corps volunteers to serve as teachers and advisors in Rwanda. They have arrived to assist, and we appreciate that. We are aware that this comes against the backdrop of increasingly scarce resources, of budget discussions and campaign promises, and of tradeoffs between defense and domestic priorities like health care and infrastructure investments. All that said, I believe we need to have a different discussion concerning the potential for bilateral aid.

The Peace Corps have returned to our country after 15 years. They were evacuated in 1994 just a short time before Rwanda collapsed into a genocide that killed over one million people in three months. Things have improved a lot in recent years. There is peace and stability throughout the nation. We have a progressive constitution that is consensus-driven, provides for power sharing, embraces diversity, and promotes the participation of women, who now represent the majority in our parliament. Our economy grew by more than 11% last year, even as the world entered a recession. We have chosen high-end segments of the coffee and tea markets in which to compete, and attract the most demanding world travelers to our tourism experiences. This has enabled us to increase wages by over 20% each year over the last eight years -- sustained by, among other things, investment in education, health and ICT.

We view the return of the Peace Corps as a significant event in Rwanda's recovery. These young men and women represent what is good about America; I have met former volunteers who have run major aid programs here, invested in our businesses, and I even count them among my friends and close advisors.

Peace Corps volunteers are well educated, optimistic, and keen to assist us as we continue to rebuild, but one must also recognize that we have much to offer them as well.

We will, for instance, show them our system of community justice, called Gacaca, where we integrated our need for nationwide reconciliation with our ancient tradition of clemency, and where violators are allowed to re-assume their lives by proclaiming their crimes to their neighbors, and asking for forgiveness. We will present to them Rwanda's unique form of absolution, where the individuals who once exacted such harm on their neighbors and ran across national borders to hide from justice are being invited back to resume their farms and homes to live peacefully with those same families....(Click for remainder.)


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