Confab on NEPAD opens in Accra
A three-day sub-regional conference on the New Partnership for Africa?s Development (NEPAD) began at the M-Plaza Hotel in Accra yesterday.
The conference, being attended by Parliamentarians from ECOWAS countries, European Parliaments, representatives of UNICEF, UNDP and experts from the region, is being organised by Ghana?s Parliament and the Association of West European Parliaments for Africa (AWEPA).
Organised on the theme, ?The role of Parliament in relation to NEPAD, sustainable development and HIV/AIDS?, the conference aims at eliciting a parliamentary response to the NEPAD initiative in the format of an action plan. A keynote address read by Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Information and Presidential Affairs, on behalf of the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, said the of HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa is reversing the impact of progress that has been achieved during the past few decades.
Alhaji Aliu said HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest threats to Africa?s development and its national security and survival.
He said the disease has also reversed the major gains in child survival and socio-economic progress achieved during the past two to three decades.
He said it has exacerbated the problems of poverty, under development, malnutrition and sexual exploitation of girls and women.
The Vice President said the situation is further threatening the future of the African continent, considering all the loss of creativity, talent and potential.
Alhaji Mahama said control of HIV/AIDS will be one of the most powerful tools for the achievement of all the other goals of NEPAD.
He said NEPAD, being framed around the millennium development goals, challenges Africa?s development partners to deepen their commitment to global poverty reduction and sustainable development.
He said Africans should no longer perceive themselves as victims of colonialism, imperialism or the forces and consequences of geo-politics, the harshness of world financial markets and the excesses of multilateral financial institutions.
?Instead, we must work dedicatedly and passionately towards change, within the framework of current realities, and knowing and accepting that we are masters of our own destiny,? he said.
Alhaji Aliu stated that previous efforts to develop Africa using international aid and loans have failed and, therefore, the NEPAD initiative is all the more important as it provides a leadership guided by the experiences and realities of the African continent itself.
In a welcoming address, the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Freddie Blay, commended AWEPA for continued support in programmes that will move Africa out of the cycle of economic degeneration and stagnation.
He expressed the hope that the conference will come out with an action plan in dealing with the problems of HIV/AIDS on the continent.
Mr Alfred Sallia Fawundu, the United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, stressed that the success of NEPAD will depend on how African governments and leaders show commitment and zeal to implement its principles and called on parliamentarians to make efforts to give it the necessary support it deserves.
Dr J.N. Scholten, President of AWEPA, noted that while sub- Saharan Africa has only 10 per cent of the world?s population, it suffers from the burden of 70 per cent of the HIV/AIDS problems.
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey who chaired the function, said the continent has been moving backwards instead of making progress and that since the goals of NEPAD have been clearly stated, there can be no excuse for failure.