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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 17:52 GMT
Africa sets out economic plan
PM Sir Anerood Jugnauth, President Mubarak, VP Zuma, President Bongo, President Wade, President Chirac, President Campaore, President Moi, President Obasanjo
Nepad needs $64 billion annually to rebuild Africa
James Coomarasamy

African heads of state meeting in the French president's Elysee Palace in Paris have expressed their determination to end famine and bloodshed on the continent.

There is a generation of African leaders who are prepared to say 'it is our responsibility'

British Prime Minister Tony Blair

The 13 leaders met President Jacques Chirac to discuss a new economic initiative for Africa, which they launched last October.

The plan, known as the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), is an African-designed plan to rebuild the continent, which sets an annual target of $64 billion dollars in foreign investment.

In return, Western countries are asking Africa to make a commitment to democracy and the fight against corruption.

Founding members

Heads of state attending the meeting include the Algerian, Nigerian and Senegalese leaders - three of the four founding members of Nepad.

The other is South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who has remained at home to deliver his annual state of the nation address.

South African President Thabo Mbeki
Nepad aims at ending famine and wars in Africa

He has been represented in Paris by Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

The initiative has been compared to the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after the Second World War.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) remains sceptical about its chances of success.

And Western diplomats say that it remains a concept in need of fleshing out.

Old rivalries

But President Chirac said he held out much hope for the initiative, backed by both France and Britain, as he launched the one-day summit on Friday.

French President Jacques Chirac
Britain and France wants Africans to fight corruption

The two former colonial powers have recently put aside their ancient diplomatic rivalry, and have embarked on a joint offensive to encourage African development.

It is hoped that both Britain and France will strongly support the Nepad initiative at the June's G-8 summit in Canada.

While Mr Chirac hosts the Nepad summit in Paris, Mr Blair is on a tour of four African countries, where he will also promote the plan.

"This is the best chance in a generation for us to make their partnership work," Mr Blair said on Thursday in Lagos.

"There is a generation of African leaders who are prepared to say 'it is our responsibility'," the British premier said.

See also:

06 Feb 02 | Business
Blair mulls Africa's economy
06 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Blair urges action on Africa
31 Jan 02 | Business
Fund boost for Africa infrastructure
08 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Blair to outline new deal for Africa
07 Feb 02 | Africa
Blair begins African tour
07 Feb 02 | Africa
Blair's African contrasts
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