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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Africa urged to focus on Aids
Zambian man dying of Aids
Annan says Aids is exacerbating Africa's problems
The head of the United Nations has urged Africa to make combating Aids and promoting girls' education the priorities of its new plan for development, Nepad.


We'll act firmly to extricate Africa out of her long night of misery

South African President Thabo Mbeki
At a special all-day session of the UN General Assembly to debate the initiative, Secretary General Kofi Annan said the HIV/Aids pandemic had become "the greatest threat to Africa's development".

South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, one of the architects of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) called on the international community to help end the continent's humiliation as "an object of charity".

"As Africans, today we stand in front of the peoples of the world to make the pledge that we'll honour the commitment we have made to ourselves and the world, that we'll act firmly to extricate Africa out of her long night of misery," Mr Mbeki told the assembly.

Africa's leaders are seeking increased foreign investment and better economic growth in return for improved governance and the eradication of corruption.

Ten African heads of state are among the representatives of 80 nations thrashing out the key issues surrounding the effective implementation of Nepad.

Deeds not words

"[Aids] has exacerbated the problems of poverty, discrimination, malnutrition and sexual exploitation of girls and women," Mr Annan said.

Zambian funeral for Aids victim
Aids is decimating the population
"It is devastating the education system as teachers are dying or disabled more quickly than they can be replaced," he said.

But leaders urged actions rather than words and promises which Africans have heard before and not seen honoured.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "Only effective actions can put people to work, provide clean water to thirsty children, or prevent the transmission of a deadly virus from mother to child. That is our challenge."

Growth hopes

The Nepad plan sets out ways in which African governments can root out corruption and end conflict in order to ensure greater foreign investment and aid.

African leaders are hoping to win yearly investments of $64bn (41,1bn) for Africa, enabling annual economic growth of 7%.

Nepad founding countries
Algeria
Egypt
Nigeria
Senegal
South Africa
When Nepad was unveiled in July, Africa had already suffered a significant decline in prosperity and dwindling foreign investment.

Development aid to Africa has been falling, with rich countries becoming increasingly fearful that investments are being mismanaged by incompetent or corrupt leaders.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Greg Barrow
"We'll act firmly to extricate Africa out of a long night of misery"
See also:

16 Sep 02 | Business
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25 Mar 02 | Business
06 Feb 02 | Business
19 Mar 02 | Business
08 Feb 02 | Africa
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