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Economic Forum's Africa Meeting Set to Open Wednesday - 2003-06-10

An annual economic meeting on Africa gets under way Wednesday in Durban, South Africa. The two major themes of the summit are Africa's recovery plan, known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development, and HIV/AIDS.

Topping the agenda for the World Economic Forum Africa summit is implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, called NEPAD. The forum will bring together African political leaders with captains of business and industry and together they will focus on developing timelines and programs of action and review for NEPAD.

NEPAD is the African Union's plan to bring about economic recovery on the continent. Among other things, it requires African governments to commit to principles of economic stability and democracy. In turn, it seeks both investment and development funds. The world's major industrial nations have already promised $6 billion to fund development projects but want African leaders to demonstrate that NEPAD is being implemented.

At the meeting in Durban, international business leaders are expected to offer governments their assistance in building capacity in both the public and private sectors. This will include human resource development and skills in technology.

Delegates will also focus on the importance of workplace health, with special attention on programs to prevent HIV/AIDS. The Africa director of the World Economic Forum, Haiko Alfeld, says that developing prevention and care programs for the workplace is essential for economic development in African countries.

He says that because the prevalence of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is higher than in any other region of the world, successful workplace strategies developed in Africa will have global benefits

Other issues to be addressed over the next three days in Durban include Africa's reintegration into the global economy, preparing a blueprint for economic growth, and assessing ways to develop education and training on the continent.