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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

USA: Africa Conference, Amoako Speech

USA: Africa Conference, Amoako Speech
Date distributed (ymd): 990322
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents:
This posting contains remarks by Dr. K. Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to the Conference on U.S.-Africa Partnership for the 21st Century, as well as the joint communique issued at the end of the conference. The previous posting contains remarks to the conference by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Additional documents from the conference, which involved ministerial-level representatives from 50 African countries (including four in North Africa), eight regional organizations and the U.S., are available at the web sites of the State Department ( and USIA (

A "blueprint" for a new relationship between the U.S. and subSaharan Africa was issued at the conclusion of the conference, and is available at the USIA site

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Address Delivered by Dr. K. Y. Amoako,
Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa,

at the U.S.-Africa Ministerial Meeting
Held in Washington, D.C.

Honorable African Ministers,
Distinguished members of the President's Clinton's cabinet, Members of the US Congress,
AID Administrator Brian Atwood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me personally, and to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, to help commence this historic partnership consultation. I am asked to give you an overview of the transformation of Africa's economic policies over the past decade -- a task often asked of the Commission. But in addition, I am asked to address you on how to improve partnership between you, the key actor in today's world economy, and Africa -- and this is new, and a particularly welcomed request.

Africa has seen a remarkable turnaround in the 1990s. Sustained economic growth in a wide range of countries over the last four consecutive years is convincing evidence of improved economic performance in the continent. On average, countries in Africa grew by 4.5% in 1995 through 1998, the highest growth rate of any region in the world, and Africa's best economic performance since the late 1970s. More than 30 countries have enjoyed real per capita growth for the last four years.

Last year's performance was particularly encouraging -- it was achieved in the face of declining global growth and a substantial drop in net transfers of financial resources to the continent. We sometimes speak of an African Renaissance, by which we mean a whole set of favorable changes. Most significant has been improved macroeconomic policies, including liberalizing trade and investment regimes, reducing tariffs and subsidies, rationalizing exchange rates, modernizing regulatory regimes, and the gradual restructuring of public expenditures, with greater emphasis on social development. The private sector now plays a greater role and governance is more participatory and effective. These changes have led to a new sense of dynamism and improved confidence in the continent's performance.

The key question is: Has Africa crossed the critical threshold into sustainable, poverty reducing growth? We attempt to answer this question in The 1999 Economic Report on Africa - one of our annual publications - using a sustainability index we developed at the Economic Commission for Africa. The sustainability analysis evaluates social, economic and other performance, outcomes, and policy efforts of countries in terms of the underlying structural constraints and progress towards a well-defined long-term goal of reducing poverty by one-half by the year 2015.

Our findings reveal that the challenge of sustainability remains monumental for most African countries. Only a handful of countries, with a small proportion of the continent's population met the essential conditions in 1998 to sustain growth consistent with the defined poverty reduction objective. Not surprisingly, the lowest scoring countries on all the indices were those significantly impacted by civil conflict. Countries which are making high gains in economic and social well being were far less prone to political fracture.

What does Africa need to do to put itself on a sustainable growth path? First, macroeconomic stabilization needs to be bolstered by institutional capacity building and investments in human capital development. Second, we are far from the 7% per annum growth required to reduce poverty by half by the year 2015. Achieving that growth rate requires: first increased domestic savings through continued fiscal discipline and improved macroeconomic policies; and second, increased net transfer of resources, particularly through official development assistance, foreign direct investment and substantial debt relief

Which brings me to what we in Africa expect from our partners to improve the prospects for our development. We seek five kinds of international solidarity.

First, we realize that the hallmarks of progress are peace, human rights and an international ethos of proper behavior. War is a disaster and we have had more than our share of them. We ask partners to support conflict prevention and peace processes; foster ethical behavior by public and private actors; and to seek the high moral ground in international discussions. The U.S. can build upon an already fine record by more concerted investments in peace and human rights in Africa.

Second, we invite partnership to reinforce home-grown policies and Africa-led initiatives; facilitate a process of consensus building around shared goals and priorities; enhance civil society participation in development, and strengthen capacity building efforts to maximize intellectual and policy leadership within the continent. With the support of the Organization of African Unity and the African Development Bank, we at the Economic Commission for Africa have created, starting this Fall, the annual African Development Forum to facilitate this process.

Third, partnership should also share reasonable risks. New leaderships are coming to the fore in Africa. It is easy and important to back acknowledged winners, but even more insightful to support emerging winners.

Fourth, poverty remains the over-arching challenge in Africa, and human development is the most important priority to reduce poverty and encourage growth. Partnerships can range from fostering universal basic education and health, through to the resurrection of higher education and expanded science-based training. Africa has much to learn from countries like the U.S., where social development has been well practiced---to learn how to incorporate environmental concerns, women, youth, the aged, and the physically challenged in human development.

Fifth, we must exercise the most insightful and the highest quality modalities of cooperation with a continent that cannot afford mistakes. The following are the modalities we in Africa seek in a spirit of partnership:

  • Trade. There has been a conceptual breakthrough in Europe with the Lome Convention, and now here in the U.S., that trade can be enormously helpful to Africa's development. We are reforming to promote intra-regional and external trade to help integrate Africa into the global economy. We hope your own plans will provide us greater and broader access to the U.S. market.
  • Aid. We wish to work in partnership to enhance the effectiveness of current aid and the prospects for sustained external support, without which our future unquestionably will suffer. Special pleading is not unheard of here in Washington, so I have to say that Africa must not be the locus of the overall decline in official development assistance.
  • Investment. Investment in Africa is in your interest, since we have the highest rate of return of any region. It is obviously in our own interest too. But that investment must be broad based and encompassing-- promoting and targeting regional markets, stimulating small and medium scale enterprises based on domestic markets, as well as the larger enterprises that target global markets. I have to add that we are making numerous reforms to make investment attractive, but one reform requires special cooperation -- and that is the need to recoup enormous amounts of stolen funds parked abroad. The ethos on this issue is changing, and clearly needs continued acts of leadership by the world's most powerful governments.
  • Debt. We appreciate stronger U.S. leadership on debt relief. Continued partnership is needed to support the efforts to make the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative more effective. A far larger number of poor countries should be encompassed in this exercise, but to do so HIPC's terms must be more flexible and the HIPC Trust Fund must have augmented resources. Africa also wants to be associated with the discussions of possible new debt relief modalities, which the June 1999 G-8 Summit in Cologne, Germany, will consider.
  • Information Technology -- With each passing day, the gap between Africa and the rest of the world in the information age increases. We need to develop partnership to build Africa's capacity to tap the global knowledge base through information and communication technologies (ICTs). ICTs offer unprecedented opportunities to leapfrog Africa's development.
  • Regionalism -- We will reap far greater rewards from integration in the world economy if our own house is integrated first. We in Africa must invest in regional mechanisms for peace, trade and policy coordination. We therefore welcome your support of regional integration and cooperation, particularly for regional infrastructure projects and the strengthening of regional institutions.
  • Multilateralism -- Partnership not only must be expressed through bilateral ties, but in an interdependent world, more is being done through multilateral cooperation. Therefore, my colleagues across Africa would have me add that supporting the United Nations means supporting Africa. At home we see the UN differently than you do in the U.S -- especially in the Congress. In Africa, we see the UN at work every day, a vital partner in our struggles for release from conflict, injustice and poverty in every country and in almost all sectors.

Now, at the risk of being audacious, let me offer some more direct advice. We in Africa were thrilled with two events last year: the bipartisan support for a legislative approach, which linked development and trade, and, of course, the visit to Africa by President Clinton. In my own country, Ghana, the lack of fully developed public transportation systems meant that only half a million people were able to greet the President. A comparable figure in this country would be about 9 million people, somewhat more than the total number who greeted President Mandela throughout this country a few years ago.

So there is plenty of political and popular goodwill. This meeting is seeking to stimulate solid results to build on this goodwill. We are with you on this. Your proposed trade and development bill has become a centerpiece for what I hope will be an expanding agenda of cooperation -- an agenda which merits the support of all your policy and lawmakers, the business community and civil society.

An American friend commented to me that in the mid-1980s, a similar situation to that you now have was faced when two legislative approaches to Africa were vying for support in Congress. It was clear then that those not so favorable to Africa would use the lack of a united approach as a reason to kill both bills. It took a lot of determination, but legislative aides and NGO leaders worked out a unified bill, the Development Fund for Africa. I pass this on merely as an historical footnote -- so to speak.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

In Africa, we say there are three friends in the world - courage, sense, and insight. All three are present here today. May partnership and strategic alliance only increase the abundant goodwill and friendship between our peoples!

I thank your very much for your kind attention.


For more information, please contact:

Peter K.A. da Costa
Senior Communication Adviser
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
United Nations
P.O. Box 3001 (official) or 3005 (personal) Addis Ababa
Tel: +251-1-51 58 26
Fax: +251-1-51 03 65
E-Mail:, Web:

18 March 1999


(3/18 from Office of White House Press Secretary) (660)

WASHINGTON -- The White House Office of the Press Secretary on March 18 issued a joint communique on the U.S.-Africa Ministerial held at the State Department March 15-18, "in an effort to consolidate and build upon the significant progress achieved in Africa in recent years."

Following is the text of the communique:


THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary

March 18, 1999

U.S.-Africa Ministerial Joint Communique

From March 15-18, 1999, the United States hosted the first-ever meeting of African and American ministers to enhance the U.S.-Africa partnership in order to foster greater economic development, trade, investment, political reform, and mutual economic growth in the 21st century. The president, eight members of the Cabinet, and four agency heads met for the first time with the African delegations. Eighty-three ministers from 46 sub-Saharan African nations, representatives from four north African nations, and the heads of eight African regional organizations participated in this historic and successful meeting. African ministers also met with members of the U.S. Congress.

In an effort to consolidate and build upon the significant progress achieved in Africa in recent years, ministers and senior U.S. officials discussed concrete ways to accelerate Africa's integration into the global economy. African ministers expressed strong support for the immediate passage by Congress of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and for continued implementation of the President's Partnership for Economic Growth and Opportunity.

U.S. and African ministers engaged in an active exchange on a broad range of economic, political, and social issues. They shared the view that high indebtedness constitutes a serious constraint to sustainable development in many African countries. In response to African requests for more effective debt relief, President Clinton proposed a six-point expanded debt relief program for highly indebted poor countries, which was warmly welcomed by the African ministers.

African and American officials discussed trade finance, market access, and access to private investment capital for ventures in Africa. Initiatives to enhance trade and investment links and economic policy dialogue were discussed, as well as efforts to improve transportation and communications infrastructure and cooperation in agribusiness and energy. Ministers also reaffirmed the importance of addressing environmental issues. They noted that early ratification by the U.S. Senate of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification will help to mobilize community and international efforts to better manage land and water resources.

African ministers and their U.S. counterparts exchanged ideas on how to enhance Africa's ability to compete in the global market through the development of its greatest resource -- its people. Emphasizing the need for accelerating reform and continued development assistance as well as trade and investment, participants examined ways to bolster human capacity through investment in education, skills training, gender equity, micro-enterprises, and health, particularly the prevention of HIV/AIDS. All agreed that these steps will accelerate the ability of Africa to sustain socio-economic development and reduce poverty. They also recognized the crucial role of regional cooperation in the overall development process and in the integration of African states into the global economy.

Recognizing that sub-Saharan Africa is a vast and diverse region marked by serious problems as well as significant successes, ministers examined ways to enhance U.S.-Africa cooperation to prevent and resolve conflicts. They also agreed on the importance of strengthening democratic institutions and respect for worker and human rights, accelerating economic reform, and creating a positive climate for business through political and social reforms. Ministers noted that the ministerial illuminated the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Africa partnership, and set it on a firm foundation for future mutual advancement in the 21st century. All recognized the need for continuing dialogue and agreed to work out the means of ensuring regular and timely follow-up.


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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