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Monday, 27 January, 2003, 15:28 GMT
World leaders slated for Africa 'neglect'
Trevor Manuel (photo by WEF)
Trevor Manuel: Africa and women "overlooked"

South Africa's finance minister, Trevor Manuel, has attacked world leaders for ignoring the plight of Africa, despite commitments to help the continent overcome poverty.

Mr Manuel said Africa had "featured not all" at the World Economic Forum's annual summit, one of the highlights of the annual business and political calendar.

There is a complete dearth of women on panels. That has got to be wrong

Trevor Manuel, finance minister, South Africa
Despite previous support by leaders, including the former US president Bill Clinton, for reforms enacted by African leaders, support for developing countries at the summit in Davos, Switzerland, had been in "short supply".

"If there is a given commitment to improvement of the situation of the most [impoverished] people, the fact that there are so many Africans living in dire poverty should be an issue," Mr Manuel said, before flying back to South Africa.

"Our continent is not able to take people out of poverty in the way others have, like China," he said.

'Dearth' of women

Mr Manuel urged forum heads to boost participation of African representatives - and women leaders - at future summits.

"There is a complete dearth of women on panels," Mr Manuel said.

"That has got to be wrong."

His attack was echoed by Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of South Africa-based campaign group Civicus which, with Amnesty International, met forum organisers to discuss the issue.

Women representation on panels had been 12%, Mr Naidoo said, and African representation "0.001%".

The forum, which says it is "committed to improving the state of mankind", held this year's summit under the banner Building Trust, and has sought to take an inclusive approach to "all the issues on the global agenda".

African determination

Mr Manuel's comments came in a press conference on the future of Nepad, a programme being drawn up by African governments to promote the continent's development.

A meeting in March is set to reach agreement on a peer review progress, following concerns in the West that Africa is not doing enough to clean-up its own act.

"Not only is [Nepad] possible but it will happen, because there is a commitment from Africans to make it happen," Mr Manuel said.



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16 Jan 03 | Africa
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