Africa Partnership Forum

Support unit opens
OECD Observer

Will the Millennium Development Goals launched in 2000 be met by the agreed deadline of 2015? This question is at the top of discussions in government and development agencies around the world. There have been several initiatives to help focus minds and boost international progress towards meeting the goals, not least by the G8.

At their 2003 summit in Evian, France, ministers agreed with leaders from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to broaden their relationship and to take a joint approach to catalysing development across this vast continent. The Africa Partnership Forum (APF) was created from this initiative.

Now, to give that process added edge, the APF has been equipped with a support unit, which is based at the OECD headquarters in Paris. Established after the Gleneagles summit in 2005, the unit helps the Forum fulfil its monitoring role. David Batt, the support unit’s first director, who took up his functions in mid-2006, is under no illusion about the challenge: “The 2015 deadline for the MDGs is at risk in Africa, everyone can see that. But we also know that for international development co-operation to maintain credibility, we must not let the deadline slip. And we can achieve the goals, but it means everyone stepping up a gear to push African development forward. Helping to move into this higher gear is what the APF and the new unit is really all about.”

The premise behind the APF is that by bringing donors and African countries around the same table, putting them on equal footing, and holding them all equally accountable for keeping their promises, real headway will be made on a range of concrete problems affecting Africa’s development. Challenges such as infrastructure and agriculture, energy and resources, and HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases will all be scrutinised. Indeed, these very issues will be examined at the next APF meeting in Moscow on 26-27 October.

Mr Batt is confident. “I believe that the Forum has an important role to play in monitoring progress against the commitments which have been made on Africa. Our job is to help identify key bottlenecks and to propose steps to surmount these hurdles.” The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, the Development Centre and the Sahel and West Africa Club will all be assets in this effort. As Mr Batt points out, “I am delighted that the new unit is housed here at the OECD, providing the opportunity for us to link with the rest of OECD’s growing work on Africa.”

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©OECD Observer No 257, October 2006

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