Africa calls for strengthening of private initiatives for continental development

Strengthening the private sector, in its widest sense, depends on educating an efficient, supportive and capable public sector and improving economic and political governance, areas which require policy action by the African countries, the 13-member Panel’s report says.The private sector, the role of which is stressed in the report, must be assisted through such measures as providing credit, establishing clear property rights and providing technical assistance, wherever necessary, the Panel says. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank should put greater emphasis on the private sector’s role within the framework of national poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), it adds.It cautions that reducing trade barriers must be carefully planned and the structure of African trade kept in view. “For instance, a reduction of agricultural subsidies in the European Union and the United States of America could harm, not help, the many African nations that are net importers, rather than exporters, of agricultural goods,” the report says.The reduction of African trade barriers could enable the African nations to benefit from trade between developing countries, it adds.While the number of bilateral and subregional preferential trade agreements are increasing in Africa, the Panel says the completion of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is an important priority for African nations and it urges NEPAD to show “fulsome support” for it.In this regard, to facilitate the completion of the Doha Round, the Panel says NEPAD can make a strong case for both compensatory and short-term, adjustment-oriented aid flows to those African countries seriously affected by the reduced value of their products as they gradually lose their most favoured nation (MFN) status.On aid, it says: “The Panel fully endorses the call for a substantial increase in aid levels (net of debt relief and humanitarian assistance), in accordance with the commitments made by the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialized countries in Monterrey, Mexico, and the pledge to channel at least one-half of this increase to sub-Saharan Africa.”