African LDCs assess their development performance


The Africa regional meeting in preparation for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries concluded Tuesday, March 9 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a call for a new approach to the development challenges facing the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
With more than 200 delegates from the 33 African LDCs, other African countries, development partners, international organisations and civil society organisations, the meeting noted that after three programmes spanning 30 years, the socio-economic situation in the LDCs has not fundamentally improved.
“The first decade of the millennium has turned out to be yet another lost decade, with no prospects of achieving the Millennium Development Goals…. African LDCs, and LDCs in general, cannot afford to lose yet another decade. The MDG agenda and indeed, the entire global development agenda cannot succeed unless it creates decent conditions of living for the 800 million people in the LDCs,” observed Cheick Sidi Diarra, the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States in his opening statement.
“Let’s use the Fourth United Nations Conference on the LDCs to recapture and to reinforce the optimism, political commitment and international solidarity that we saw at the dawn of the millennium,” he urged.
The Executive-Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Abdoulie Janneh, called for a “firm and collective resolve” to remove the structural impediments to poverty eradication and sustainable development in the Least Developed Countries.
“A key element should be development assistance for developing productive capacities to [chart] a path of diversification of the economy,” he said.
Over the two day meeting, delegates shared experiences in the implementation of the plan of action for LDCs adopted in Brussels in 2001. The 10-year-plan, which comes to an end this year,  lays down areas of action by the LDCs and their development partners in order to “significantly improve the human conditions” of the people in the LDCs.
In an outcome document adopted at the end of the meeting, the delegates concurred that while African LDCs had made progress in implementing their obligations under the Brussels plan, “improved economic performance in African LDCs has not contributed to commensurate gains in poverty reduction.” They attributed this to “the type of growth occurring in African LDCs, driven by capital intensive extractive sectors, and thus with limited impact on employment creation.”
They also blamed the recent food, energy and financial and economic crises for eroding the little gains that had been made by the LDCs in the last decade.
The meeting, the second of a kind after a similar meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for Asian LDCs in January this year, made a number of recommendations that should form the basis of a new plan of action for LDCs. The new plan is expected to be adopted at the Fourth United Nations Conference on LDCs in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2011.
The Addis Ababa meeting called for the strengthening of “African resilience through productive capacities development”.
This, the meeting said, requires the “the development of a critical mass of productive capacities in agriculture, manufacturing and services reducing [LDCs’] vulnerabilities and bringing about structural transformation.”
The recommendations of the meeting will be considered by the preparatory committee meetings towards the Istanbul conference, which are scheduled for early 2011.