Africa partnership forum to meet in Moscow
On October 26-27, 2006, Moscow will play host to the regular 7th meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum (APF), established in 2003 by decision of the Evian G-8 summit as a new international mechanism for harmonizing approaches to ensuring consistent social and economic progress on the African continent.
During the yet relatively brief period of its existence the Forum has asserted itself as a prestigious and rather unique venue for review by representatives of African countries and their leading outside partners of strategies for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals on the continent, for producing recommendations to enhance the efficiency of the steps taken by the Africans themselves towards this end, including those under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and also for invigorating broad international efforts in support of such steps.
The key goals of the Forum are to identify and analyze the main challenges confronting Africa, to help formulate a coordinated policy line of the African and international communities on responding to such challenges, and to monitor the practical implementation of this policy line. It is precisely the formulation of the action strategy and monitoring of its implementation that is the principal mission of the Forum, while immediate resource support, funding for practical activities and field work do not fall under its terms of reference.
The dialogue within the Forum's framework is often characterized as "expanded" for the following reason: before the emergence of the Forum the G-8 nations and the founders of NEPAD -- Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria South Africa and Senegal -- had maintained contacts within a "narrow format." Their special representatives used to meet on a regular basis, perseveringly seeking and finding forms of joint actions that were acceptable both to G-8 and to the Africans with a view to creating the conditions for Africa's social and economic rejuvenation. Thanks to their joint efforts the 2002 G-8 summit in Kananaskis approved the long-term G-8 Africa Action Plan aimed at supporting the Africans in implementing the NEPAD goals and principles.
The establishment of the Forum signified a considerable increase in the number of participants in the process of shaping a new partnership with Africa: all the G-8 countries, 11 non-G-8 industrialized OECD countries that help the continent in the amount of at least 100 million US dollars a year, the UN, IMF, the World Bank, OECD, WTO, the European Union, and also the 20 African member countries of the NEPAD Executive Committee, the African Union, the leading African subregional organizations and the African Development Bank are APF members. The above countries and organizations regularly delegate their quite high-ranking political representatives for participation in APF activities. For example, G-8 is represented in the work of the Forum by the G-8 leaders' personal envoys for Africa.
The documents of the Forum stipulate that its meetings are convened twice a year, with one meeting held in Africa and the other in the G-8 chair country. Under this provision our country is hosting the next Forum, which is expected to be attended by about 150 participants. The Russian delegation will be led by the special envoy of the President of the Russian Federation for liaison with African leaders and director of the Africa Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexei Vasilyev.
The agenda of the Moscow meeting of the Forum is largely consistent with the priorities of the St. Petersburg G-8 summit, the decisions of which on energy security, education and infectious disease control are immediately relevant to Africa's destiny and fully meet the interests of its peoples and the goals of ensuring the sustainable development of the continent.
The discussion on ways of overcoming energy scarcity in Africa, including such issues as broadening the access of African countries, especially of their more vulnerable population groups, to energy resources and services, the efficient utilization of the resource potential available in the region and the role of the energy factor in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, will be of particular importance. The participants will focus on the current adverse situation in the energy sphere on the continent, on measures taken by the African and international communities to improve it, and on further concerted actions to overcome energy scarcity in the region. The discussion will be based on the available international studies and materials, including relevant recommendations of the final document on energy security produced by the St. Petersburg G-8 summit and the June 2006 statement of the G-8 finance ministers on access to energy services for the benefit of the Millennium Development Goals.
Much attention will be accorded infectious disease control in Africa. Since the problems of HIV/AIDS control were examined in detail at the APF meeting in Mozambique in May 2006, the discussion will aim at producing concerted approaches to the general aspects of infectious disease control in Africa with special focus on "conventional" diseases, such as malaria, TB, polio, etc. Therefore, opinions will be exchanged with due regard for the provisions of the relevant final document of the St. Petersburg G-8 summit.
Other key items on the agenda are monitoring overviews of the Forum Secretariat on the three key subjects of the previous APF meeting (agriculture, infrastructure and HIV/AIDS). Such reports will be heard for the first time. They mark the beginning of the practical implementation of the Forum's monitoring function and will make it possible to analyze progress in the implementation of the decisions taken within the APF framework and the relevant commitments of the African and donor communities.
The agenda of the Moscow APF meeting also includes some less overarching, though just as important issues, on which briefing reports will be presented and exchanges of opinion held. In particular, it is planned to emphasize the key results of the St. Petersburg G-8 summit, primarily those immediately relevant to Africa, to discuss implementation of the so-called Africa Action Plan (a list of social and economic projects of key importance to the implementation of the NEPAD program) and the access of African goods to developed countries' markets, and also to focus anew on the problems of financing for development.
On October 27 the co-chairs of the Forum will, within the framework of the Civil G-8 process, meet with participants in the round table of nongovernmental organizations on Africa. This will enable the APF to compare notes with civil society and take account in its practical work of the recommendations of Russian and international nongovernmental organizations having a wealth of experience in work with Africa and its problems.
As is usual practice, on the same day a separate G-8 event will take place on the sidelines of the Forum, namely, a meeting of the personal envoys of the G-8 leaders on Africa, which will enable them to harmonize approaches to the issues included in the agenda of the APF meeting and to discuss prospects for joint work in the period ahead.
Russia is generally satisfied with the progress of the APF "expanded dialogue." Our country is vigorously supporting the work of this mechanism and is doing what it can to host the Moscow APF meeting and companion events in a befitting manner. We hope that they will help formulate concerted approaches to the provision of appropriate conditions for the social and economic resurgence of Africa.
Russia will continue its purposeful work in the interests of shaping reliable mechanisms of sustainable development in Africa and strengthening regional stability; contribute in every way to comprehensive solutions to the other problems confronting the continent; and actively participate in the concerted measures, in particular, through G-8 and within the Africa Partnership Forum.
Unofficial translation from Russian