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African Leaders Call for Partnership With West


Leaders from Africa and Germany meeting in Ghana concluded the challenges facing Africa can be successfully addressed only through a relationship of equal partnership. Efam Dovi reports for VOA from the Ghanaian capital, Accra the meeting was an initiative of the German president.

The meeting brought together 50 young people from Germany and several African countries and selected African heads of state to discuss a variety of issues, including armed conflicts, the environment and political participation.

After two days of debates, the young participants came up with a declaration calling for the involvement of the youth in all programs and decisions on the African continent. They also called on the leaders to fight corruption and mismanagement in Africa, which they said hinder effective political participation.

The declaration urged the leaders to sign and implement treaties for the protection of the youth, as well as stop the recruitment of child soldiers and arms proliferation.

Presidents John Kufuor of Ghana and Horst Kohler of Germany, who co-hosted the conference, promised to sign and send copies of the declaration to all African presidents, European leaders, as well as the G-8 group.

President Kufuor said Africa wants a new partnership with the developed word.

"We are not asking for further entrenchment of dependency through aid or token concessions, but a new relationship based on cooperation, mutual respect and a sense of common humanity as captured in the NEPAD framework," Mr. Kufuor said. "All we are saying is that give us the tools and we shall finish the job."

The Ghanaian president called for the transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise, debt cancellation, increased foreign direct investment, as well as access to international markets.

German President Kohler said it is wrong for any nation to impose ideas on the other.

"I see a huge potential and I can only plead to my countrymen from Germany and to the Europeans, be aware, this is not just a receiving continent, we are not the donors, we need to be aware we can get something in Europe, in Germany, from the Africans, and I feel this is the right way forward," Mr. Kohler said.

Two of the participants gave their impressions of the conference. First Anthony Baffoe, a former football superstar and now a sports presenter for a German television.

"Am very impressed, very overwhelmed about this conference for everybody to have the opportunity to discuss with the heads of state, and its fantastic. I take a lot out of this conference," Baffoe said.

Andrea Duchting a student from Germany also says she has learned a lot from other young participants and says young people everywhere face similar challenges.

"Just employment for instance, I am going to graduate in the summer and I don't know if I will get a job," she said. "There are so many young people hanging around without having a job and the same all over in so many African countries."

Among those heads of state attending the meeting were, Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Yayi Boni of Benin.