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African leaders seek increased aid for MDGs

SHARM-EL-SHIEKH, July 1 – African Heads of State and Government meeting in Sharm-el-Shiekh, Egypt for the 11th ordinary session of the Africa Union Assembly and multilateral development partners have called on the group of rich Nations (G8) to make good their existing aid promise to support the continent realise its millennium development goals (MDGs).

The Leaders who included President Mwai Kibaki noted that although great strides have been made in some countries, especially in increasing school enrolment, improving access to clean water and expanding HIV/AIDS treatment, progress in many countries is not yet on track to meet MDGs.

The leaders called for targeted investment in Agriculture to launch a green revolution in Africa and stepped-up support for major poverty eradication projects to fill critical gaps in the Continent’s infrastructure.

African Union Chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, in a press briefing at the close of the  three day summit, said MDGs can still be realised by 2015, with the momentum generated by strong economic growth, increased commitment to domestic resource mobilisation, improved governance and better policy performance in many African Countries.

"Rapid progress is possible across Africa when sound national programmes are marched with adequate development assistance and full support from the International Community systems," President Kikwete said.

The AU Chairman said the challenge of meeting the eight MDGs in African Countries is compounded  by the long term risk posed by unpredictable climate changes.

He told African countries to involve the private sectors, as engines of innovation and growth, which provide incomes for rural and urban populations, to complement governments in designing, delivery and financing interventions to achieve the MDGs.

On Agriculture and Food security, the MDGs Africa steering group sought development assistance for African agriculture to be increased from the current US$2 billion annually to US$8 billion by 2010.

The steering group also sought US$23.7 billion infrastructures financing by 2010 to close growth-inhibiting gaps on transport, power generation and transmission, communication, water and sanitation services.

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"The large number of small and land-locked countries of Africa creates the need for substantially increased investments in regional transport, communication and power networks to support development through growth and trade", the group said in the recommendations launched by the AU Chairman.

The recommendations were signed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn, President of World Bank Group Robert Zoellick, Chairman  Africa Union Commission Jean Ping and the President of Africa Development Bank Donald Kaberuka.

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