SENEGAL president Abdoulaye Wade, one of the key architects of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), has blasted rich countries for sabotaging African development through thei
r massive subsidies to their agricultural sectors.
“The rich countries are clearly violating the laws of fair trade,” said Wade.
“It is more of a political issue between the West and the African countries.
The United States of America, United Kingdom and other rich countries are subsidising their agricultural sector to the tune of US$1 billion a day and that translates to a gross total of US$365 billion a year. It is a disaster to the African countries.”
Wade is one of the 23 heads of state attending the third version of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Japan.
The meeting has adopted Nepad as the basis for Japan’s assistance to the African continent.
Wade was commenting on the Cancun meeting between the African countries and some of the world’s economic powerhouses that hit a snag after the two parties failed to agree on the issue of subsidies.
At the ill-fated Cancun meeting African countries had pushed for the Western countries to cease subsidising their agricultural sector arguing that it disadvantages African agricultural products on the world market.
Said Wade: “For us in Nepad it is better not to have an agreement if that agreement does not favour the interests of the African countries. The breakdown of the meeting was therefore not a surprise to the Nepad leaders.”
“If the West countries who are Africa’s major trading partners want to continue with the subsidies, then they must be prepared to compensate our poor farmers who fail to sell their agricultural produces on the world market because of the unfair advantage that the farmers in the north are getting,” he said.
Wade, who is one of the key figures in Nepad also admitted that the organisation lacks the political muscle to enforce the much-awaited peer review policy among African countries that refuse to adhere to the standards of rule of law, good governance and democracy.
“Nepad leaders will not force member countries to come under the review on key areas of good governance, human rights and democratic processes. The bottomline is that we are only able to suggest measures. We are unlikely to take any further measures on problem countries,” he said.
He however called on donor countries and the G8 members not to hold Nepad to “ransom because of a few countries that fail to adhere to the standards of good governance”.
“In Nepad there are likely to be some problem countries. But that should not stop the donor countries and the international community from supporting the Nepad initiatives,” he said. “The international countries should not judge the initiative on the basis of a few rogue regimes in the continent.”
The Nepad Business Group was launched on March 19 2002 at Monterrey Mexico during the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development. The meeting was chaired by Kofi Annan UN secretary general.
The group comprises leading business orgnisations who have a broad constituency – both inside and outside Africa – and are committed to helping the continent realise its full economic potential. The group acts as a medium between Nepad and private companies who support its aims.