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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 16:15 GMT
Mbeki to sell Africa Plan in New York
South African President Thabo Mbeki
Mbeki's hopes for Africa are threatened by problems in Zimbabwe
Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, is heading for New York to convince the World Economic Forum that the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) deserves funding.

Mr Mbeki wrapped up a four-day meeting of African leaders near Johannesburg on Sunday, thrashing out a united front to take to the Forum.

In all, 53 African nations have taken part in planning NEPAD, and at a conference in Tokyo late last year they called for $64bn of investment in Africa each year.

"The question of buy-in from African countries is really important," said presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo of the plan, fronted by Mr Mbeki and the presidents of Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt.

The programme sets a series of targets for democracy and good governance along with sustainable economic development and a 7% growth rate for the continent as a whole by 2015.

Sticking points

However, nagging questions of good governance in Africa dog the project, dubbed by some a "Marshall Plan for Africa" after the post-war investment programme for Europe funded by the US.

South Africa is by far the biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, and despite a plummeting currency is in relatively good shape.

But elsewhere the picture is less rosy.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe's party is strong-arming voters and rushing through a politically-motivated land reform programme.

The aim, opposition parties and independent observers say, is to ensure victory in presidential elections in March.

Zambia held its own elections in December, which are widely believed to have been fixed by the ruling party.

Analysts list a number of other issues, including corruption in Kenya and elsewhere, and the ongoing conflict fuelled by natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo as potential sticking points.

These factors have contributed to a long-term decline in inward investment to Africa - although the main cause has been a general backing away by investors from emerging markets following the 1997 Asian currency crisis and the 1995 Mexico debt default.

African Development Bank (ADB) figures show that Africa got $14.2bn in development aid in 1999, compared with $24.2bn 10 years previously.

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Moeletsi Mbeki and Dr Conrad Reuss of Std. and Poors
"South Africa has a stable and legitimate government"
See also:

04 Dec 01 | Business
Africa meet on 'Marshall' plan
22 Jul 01 | Africa
Africa presents its big idea
27 Apr 01 | Africa
Annan's 'Marshall Plan' for Aids
07 Nov 01 | Business
EU admits Africa losing out on trade
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