Africa Is a Continent Full of Hope and Potential

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK A year after adopting the European Strategy for Africa, the European Union has come up with an initiative aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of EU development assistance. The initiative called EU Africa Week, or Development Days, will be held from November 14 to 17 in Brussels, Belgium. The EU feels that by bringing together all EU professionals involved in development, in an open dialogue, the event will further improve EU ideas, working methods as well as delivery. Heads of State and Governments, top UN representatives, the African Union, the World Bank and other representatives will converge on Brussels to deliberate on a number of topics such as the perspectives of governance, social rights, the fight against corruption, inequalities and vulnerable groups, migration and governance, shifting donor paradigms and the role of the media in promoting governance, among many others. Some of the African presidents attending the conference include those from Botswana, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mauritania, Togo, Benin, Madagascar, Mali, Uganda, Ethiopia, Swaziland and the Central African Republic. The EU says it does not only consider Africa as a continent that remains trapped in poverty and distress, but also a continent that is full of hope and potential, and in this case the first edition of the European Development Days will give Europe an opportunity to work towards a better future for Africans. “The focus on Africa for its edition illustrates the conviction that we, Europeans, have the means and the will to help Africa turn this situation around,” said Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, in his welcome message to the conference. The strategy, adopted by EU member states in October 2005, focuses on the provision of more and better development aid, increasing the speed of implementation and, in particular, focusing on aid for Africa, as a response by the EU to the challenge of getting Africa back on track of sustainable development. The key requirements of the new strategy include peace and security, good and effective governance, trade, inter-connectivity, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. The grouping’s member states adopted the strategy as a framework for action to support Africa’s efforts in attaining the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Michel said African countries need to strengthen their governance systems because poverty reduction needs more than money aid. The forum that will discuss governance buildt on the EU Consensus on Development, through the Commission, the EU member states and the EU Parliament, reaffirmed good governance, democracy and respect for human rights as key pillars of EU development cooperation and a cornerstone of the EU Strategy for Africa. “The first edition of the European Development Days marks the beginning of a process, which shall contribute to the work Europeans must undertake towards a more effective and harmonized development assistance. We are opening a new road, and we will have to work together to develop it,” Michel said. Other sideline events to the conference include meetings of the EU agencies, research and training network, EU development Director General’s meeting, EU 10, and EC Evaluation on Governance.

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