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12.02.2005 General News

Ghana to host growth and poverty reduction seminar

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Ghana is to host an international experts' conference on growth and poverty reduction in Africa with particular focus on how to promote economic growth vis-à-vis strong democratic governance. The conference scheduled for February 16 is on the theme: "Fighting Poverty in Africa: NEPAD and the Commission for Africa".

It aims at exploring the complementarities between the two approaches, among other things, to reduce poverty, promote higher rates of growth and strengthen democratic governance in Africa. Disclosing the details of the conference to Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), which is organizing the conference, said issues to be discussed included internal and external strategies and policies for accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa.

He said Africa was the only Region in the world where average incomes had fallen steadily over the past four decades and the number of people living in poverty was projected to increase in the next decade. Dr Akwetey said so far, domestic strategies and policies aimed at combating poverty on the Continent had focused on accelerated economic growth through increased infrastructure investment, higher public expenditure on social programmes and good governance.

NEPAD, according to IDEG Executive Director, provided the continental framework for harmonizing national efforts with regional and continental development plans. He said domestic efforts alone were not enough and that rich industrialized nations should complement these efforts by opening up their markets to Africa's exports, wiping off the Continent's external debt of 70 billion dollars, increasing official development assistance and helping to stimulate more foreign direct investment to the Continent. Dr Akwetey said the Commission for Africa was the United Kingdom's response to help rally support among G7 states to address the Continent's economic challenges.

So far, the Commission has secured the support of countries like Germany, France and Italy, and in spite of some disagreements over the scope of relief; the G7 has agreed to provide 100 per cent debt relief on all multi-lateral debt for individual Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) countries.

The Accra roundtable is also expected to discuss some of the unresolved issues of the G7's agreement and how best to use the resources obtained under the "Compromise Agreement" to move the development agenda of Africa and Ghana in particular forward.


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