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Annan Calls for Efforts on Africa

September 17, 2002|From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a war on AIDS and the promotion of girls' education as the world body focused Monday on what one African leader called extricating "Africa out of her long night of misery."

Launching debate on a new development plan, Annan proposed stronger work to keep Africa from slipping into an irretrievable abyss.

"Combating HIV/AIDS and promoting girls' education are particularly central," Annan said. "The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become the greatest threat to Africa's development."

Top officials from about 80 countries, including 10 African heads of state, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, gathered to flesh out details of the new development plan at an all-day special session of the 190-nation U.N. General Assembly.

The meeting focused on the New Partnership for Africa's Development, or NEPAD, an initiative launched by 15 African countries in Nigeria a year ago to give African development fresh momentum and a new foundation.

Spearheaded by South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and Senegal, NEPAD hopes to ensure good political and economic governance in exchange for more investment, better trade access and more debt relief from wealthy nations.

"We are committed to translate our words into a practical program that actually changes the lives of the masses of Africa away from despair to a common future of hope and human dignity," South African President Thabo Mbeki said as the session got underway.

"We seek to ensure that we move away from the donor-recipient relationship with the developed world to a new partnership based on mutual respect as well as shared responsibility and accountability."

NEPAD is modeled on the U.S. Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II. Its goal is to attract billions of dollars in annual investment to revive ailing economies, fight ravaging diseases like AIDS and malaria and ease the poverty blighting Africa.

But its success depends as well on African governments themselves rooting out corruption and working to bring an end to their many wars.

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