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World Economic Forum's Africa Summit Delivers Discouraging News - 2004-06-02

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum's Africa summit got under way in Maputo to assess the state of the continent's economic development plan. The Forum opened with discouraging news.

The Forum says its study on business competitiveness shows Africa fairs poorly across all indicators. The survey says, with some exceptions such as Botswana, Tunisia, and South Africa, African governments are failing to overcome challenges and create conditions for growth and development.

Haiko Alfeld, the Forum's Africa Director, told VOA poorly developed infrastructure and lack of communication between businesses and the government are of particular concern. ?There is still no joint priority setting, there is no joint identification of priority projects, which necessarily means that many of these projects remain unfunded or under-funded,? he said.

Mr. Alfeld added that countries such as Botswana and South Africa scored well in the study, but he said there are other countries, including Mozambique, which, though still poor, are experiencing good growth and score highly in areas of government-business cooperation.

?In fact at some sessions we want to focus on successful public-private partnerships and successful transnational collaborative projects in Mozambique, such as the rehabilitation of the Maputo port or the Maputo corridor, the recently launched SASOL natural gas project and see how Mozambique overcame barriers,? he said. ?Is it political will? Is it cooperation? Is it public private partnership? How did they finance these big infrastructure projects??

African business leaders, such as South African Raoul Khoza, argue that the African Union's program for development called the New Partnership for African Development, has not given its peer review mechanism sufficient powers to sanction governments that fail to live up to its standards on democracy and good governance. They say this has the effect of scaring off foreign direct investment in the continent.

He says that African businesses should implement and manage their own review mechanism that includes sanctioning wayward governments.