Financial Crisis Takes Centre Stage at Francophonie Summit

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The ongoing financial crisis will dominate discussions during the 12th Summit of the Francophonie scheduled to take place in Quebec, Canada, from October 18-19, 2008. Countries of the South, especially African countries attending the event, are expected to express their concerns about having to pay a huge price as a result of the crisis. There are concerns among African delegations at the summit that official development assistance (ODA) could be cut back in favor of bail-out plans for various American and European financial institutions that are in the grip of the crisis. According to a recent report by the OECD, official development assistance fell short of commitments made during the 2006 Gleneagles Summit. Africans are also manifesting their concerns about the effects of the crisis on their raw materials. They hold that due to liquidity issues, rich countries of the North could impose ridiculously low prices on their raw materials. They point to the sudden decline of oil prices from US$140 a barrel in July to US$80 a barrel today. Speaking recently in New York during the UN General Assembly, Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, called for fair trade, adding that it was time for African countries to enjoy the benefits of globalization. Mr. Kaberuka had earlier expressed concerns about the adverse consequences of the crisis on African economies during a meeting with the media in Tunis, Tunisia. He called for caution and vigilance. Mr. Kaberuka had, on October 5, 2008, made detailed analysis of the consequences of the crisis on the continent during a debate on Radio France Internationale (RFI). It is hoped that the Quebec Declaration which will be adopted on Sunday at the end of the Francophonie Summit will provide answers to some concerns expressed by African officials, including Mr. Kaberuka.

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