The 24th France-Africa Heads of State and Government summit opened in Cannes, France, on Thursday, with a demand on the international media by African Union (AU) Chairman, President John Agyekum Kufuor, to tell the Continent's success story and project its positive image.
He said it was time the world media stopped painting Africa as a place of doom and gloom, and acknowledged the positive developments taking place on the Continent in terms of the promotion of human rights, good governance and economic management.
'Reports of corruption, crime, civil wars and even murder in Africa should not be presented in the media as if they were inherently African and exclusive to our Continent, since they occur everywhere', he said. He however, noted that objective reporting on these could facilitate the rally of all humanity to deal with them.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori joined French President Jacque Chirac and the African political leaders at the Summit, which is being held under the theme; 'Africa and the Global Balance'.
It is designed to help deepen the economic development partnership between France and the Region and the main issues they would be discussing are 'Raw Materials in Africa, the Continent's position in the world, and Africa and the Information society'.
France has been at the forefront of a campaign to get the developed nations to double their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to the Continent and has decided to raise the level of its ODA to 0.7 per cent of the country's gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the year 2012, two-thirds of which, would come to Africa.
Additionally, it has been actively campaigning for fair trade for the Continent on the global market.
President Kufuor said the present generation of Africa leaders were determined to make the 21st Century, Africa's Century of hope, peace and prosperity.
He made reference to the democratic path of governance taken by majority of the countries in the Region and the significant economic progress they were making with an average growth of six per cent and declared that Africa could no longer be described as a lost Continent. The AU Chairman called on the international community to continue to show solidarity with Africa by assisting in the peaceful resolution of its remaining violent conflicts.
French President Chirac said Africa and the World stood at a crossroads and the important question was Africa's place in globalisation.
'There are two ways forward. Either the easy option of short-termism and selfishness will win the day, and Africa then once again be pillaged, left by the wayside of prosperity and left alone to face its problems, something that would represent enormous risk for the world.
'Or alternatively, we can face up to the challenge of development and Africa will take its rightful place in globalisation to become a focus of peace and prosperity'.
He acknowledged the success some African countries were making among emerging nations and said the image of an impoverished Africa was no longer a true reflection of reality.
President Chirac said his country would remain sincere with its intention to rebuild its ties with Africa in a relationship oriented towards the future and to broaden them to encompass the Continent as a whole in order to take account of glabal issues.
'At a time when Africa is becoming a fully-fledged actor in globalisation, there can be no question of slackening our efforts'.
German Chancellor Merkel said there was the need for a new long-term partnership co-operation with Africa which should be built on good governance and structures for promoting transparency.
She gave assurance of her country's support for the continent saying, 'We are prepared to help you to make your dream come true'.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Mori, called for improved trade and investment to promote growth and fight poverty in Africa.