Ministerial Roundtable Opens in Shanghai
A ministerial roundtable opened on Tuesday in Shanghai, venue of the African Development Bank Group’s Annual Meetings, to enable ministers, development experts and key private sector players to exchange perspectives. The theme of the roundtable, which was opened by Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, was "Africa-Asia: Partners in Development."
The choice of the theme was determined by the role Asia in general and China in particular is playing in the global economy and their renewed interest in Africa. The Annual Meetings of the Bank Group are therefore a unique opportunity to reflect more profoundly on Africa-Asia relations.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Kaberuka thanked the Chinese government for hosting the meetings and for the excellent organization of the events. He also used the occasion to commend the Chinese development experience which is an inspiration for Africa.
Mr. Kaberuka thanked the Presidents of Madagascar and Cape Verde for honoring the Bank Group’s invitation, highlighting that both countries were good examples of what Africa had to do to help itself.
He praised Madagascar for its development efforts, underscoring the government’s determination to build a strong private sector in the country. He pointed out that the Bank Group recently approved one of its largest private sector loans for a mining project in the country and was strategically involved in the country’s water sector.
The Bank Group President also praised Cape Verde for its growing democracy, its socio-economic policies that have delivered results and the creation of an enabling business environment in the country, adding that the ADB was playing a key role in the country’s development efforts.
Speaking to participants, Madagascar’s President, Marc Ravalomanana, said Africa was a complex continent with 53 countries, with each country being at a different development stage and having its own set of problems and challenges.
He stressed that resolving the issues required a good knowledge of the problems, adding that "poverty in a world of abundance is totally unacceptable. In a world filled with material, financial and technological resources, no country should be in a terrible condition."
The challenge, Mr. Ravalomanana, said was moving Africa from poverty to abundance, highlighting the fact that the continent was in its current predicament due, in part, to the lack of leadership. He said the continent had the human resources, but some of the resources had left the continent because their abilities were not recognized at home.
He called for a change of values and mindset if Africans had to enjoy some of the benefits of development, adding the continent’s leadership challenge was the identification of those values and traditions that should be preserved and those that needed to be changed.
Mr. Ravalomanana indicated that taking advantage of opportunities required talented leadership, not just from the top, but from all levels of government, the private sector and the civil society. The leaders, he went on, must embrace the principles of good governance if meaningful results had to be achieved.
He said his country had formulated a strategy for rapid development known as the Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) which is the country’s roadmap out of poverty and to stronger economic growth.
The Cape Verde President, Pedro Pires, for his part, shared his country’s experience with participants, highlighting the challenges his government was dealing with. Despite these challenges, he said, his people had not lost hope in the future and confidence in themselves. He outlined the efforts the country was making to overcome the challenges, indicating that the focus was on education. He added that his country had learned from others and opened up to the external world, stressing the role the country’s Diaspora was playing in pooling the people out of poverty. He pointed out that the African Development Bank Group had all along stood by the people of Cape Verde in their efforts to attain sustainable levels of development.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Executive Secretary, Abdulie Janneh, noted that the holding of the Annual Meetings in China was proof of the strong relationship between Africa and Asia, adding that the theme of the meetings responded to the needs of our time.
The roundtable discussions are a major event of the Annual Meetings and usually precede the Meetings themselves. The discussions were attended by development experts from multilateral and bilateral organizations, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the civil society, as well as private sector specialists and members of the academic community. Other themes discussed during the roundtable included: Africa-Asia: Trade and Capital Flows; Africa-Asia: Entrepreneurship and Private Sector Development in Africa, as well as Human Capital and Technology in Development – Lessons from Asia.