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African Leaders Prepare for G-8 Summit

Several African leaders are preparing to attend next week's G-8 summit in Canada, where they will make their case for implementation of the development initiative known as NEPAD. The plan, devised by the leaders of Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Algeria, calls for the world's wealthiest nations to boost investment in Africa.

At least five African heads of state have been invited to attend the G8 meeting in Canada. It starts on June 26 and brings together leaders of the world's wealthiest nations and Russia. Heads of state of Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Algeria and Egypt, are among those who will be at the meeting as guests.

The purpose of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, is to boost investment by rich countries in the world's poorest continent by more than $60 billion a year. The goals of the initiative include raising economic growth by seven percent a year for the next 15 years, reducing poverty, and improving infrastructure, educational systems and health throughout the continent.

The goals are ambitious, and leaders of nations that make up NEPAD have laid out detailed plans of how they hope to achieve them. Among those who came up with the idea of NEPAD was Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade. Cherif Salif Sy, Mr. Wade's representative to NEPAD, told VOA the initiative is meant to move Africa away from its dependence on donor handouts.

"We need a new plan, an action plan, because we have observed that there is a big failure concerning aid and credit in the past 40 years. Now, we are trying to look other ways for [promoting] the development of Africa. Those ways [involve undertaking] our own efforts concerning economic and political governance," Mr. Sy said.

A key element of the NEPAD initiative is the establishment of a peer review system in which African leaders would work with each other to ensure their adherence to democracy and respect for human rights.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the host of this year's G-8 summit, visited Africa in April and told leaders they must put in place measures of good governance if they expect additional aid from the West.

A similar message was conveyed by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill when he visited the continent last month. The Bush administration earlier this year pledged to increase aid to Africa by $5 billion, mainly through investment and trade.