This year has been one of unprecedented international attention to Africa’s development.
Norway welcomes this. We are strongly committed to the fight against poverty, and to work with African countries and institutions - and together with our international partners - to promote a reform agenda that may bring about positive changes for the people of Africa. For that reason we fully subscribe to the Africa Action Plan, and shall continue to play an active role within the Africa Partnership Forum, in close cooperation with our African partners and NEPAD.
The challenge is to sustain this international attention and ensure implementation of the commitments made. Last week in London, the frica Partnership Forum took up the key role it has been given to monitor and advance commitments affecting Africa’s Development. As co-chair in 2006, Norway intends to do our best to ensure that the Africa Partnership Forum can fulfil its role and develop a mutual monitoring process to assess progress. The pioneering work by ECA and OECD on mutual review of development effectiveness is an important contribution in this context.
In order to achieve our aims for Africa’s development we shall all have to address a number of issues: First of all we shall have to reform the international framework conditions, which means debt cancellation, and the trade and investment regimes. Promising steps on debt relief have already been taken by the Bretton Woods institutions, and we look forward to their implementation. To reduce poverty and achieve progress towards the MDGs, the poorer countries in Africa must also be able to acquire their own incomes, which primarily can be done through trade. Market access is thus crucial, and in this respect a successful conclusion of the ongoing Doha-Round in the WTO-negotiations ais essential also for the development agenda.
But we also need more and better aid. More of our efforts should be focused on the poorest countries, and donors should be far better to coordinate, harmonize and align their assistance with the recipient countries.
We appreciate the commitments of the G8 to double their aid to Africa by 2010, and urge all donor partners to make faster progress towards increasing their ODA assistance up to the UN target of 0,7 per cent of their gross national income. Norway has already made a commitment to increase the Norwegian ODA assistance to 1 per cent of GNI, which also mean greater resources for Africa.
Improving the quality and effectiveness of aid should be an urgent concern for all partners. Norway is fully committed to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and we are in the process of reviewing our procedures to ensure that we can deliver on these commitments.
Norway is committed to becoming a more predictable donor by:
- Introducing a system of multi-year allocations to key partner countries and key UN organisations.
- Being more transparent about financing scenarios and which indicators that may trigger reduced or increased allocation to our partner countries.
- Being a partner in Joint Assistance Strategies, where financing scenarios are presented jointly with other donors, where-ever possible.
Norway is committed to align our support to partner countries’ poverty reduction strategies, policy and systems by:
- Providing aid to the government sector through the Treasury.
- Providing an increasing part of the support to key partner countries as general budget support and sector wide programme support, jointly with other donors.
- Using partner countries’ systems for Public Finance Management, Reporting and Procurement wherever these systems have an acceptable standard.
- Support capacity development on an untied basis, together with other donors.
Norway will contribute to increased aid efficiency by:
- Concentrating the cooperation to two or three sectors by country, work for complementarity among donors and pull out of "over-crowded" sectors on partner countries’ request.
- Accepting to be a silent partner, and delegate the responsibility to follow-up to another donor, where the numbers of donors by sector is high.
- Replacing our own country strategy and MOU processes with participation in joint processes, like in Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.
Only African countries themselves can ensure sustainable growth and development on the African continent. Even if we as donors, and the international community, try to do all the right things, in trade and debt relief and in aid and aid reform, we shall still fail in reducing poverty and promote growth, if the African countries themselves do not also play their part, especially in terms of fighting corruption and promoting good governance. Without accountability, development performance will not improve – and without performance, international commitments and increased aid cannot be sustained. For that reason we are very pleased that most African countries today seriously try to address these issues, and are working jointly towards reforms in governance, not least within the framework of NEPAD and its African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). We trust that the reviews will be undertaken in a transparent manner and that they enhance governance.
Norway has over the years supported programmes for increasing the capacity of the AU to deal with peace and security, and we shall also continue to do so. We believe that the new role played by the African Union for security and conflict management, through its Peace and Security Council and the African Peace Facility, has been a major contributing factor to reducing the level of armed conflicts on the continent.
The AU has also taken on itself important and difficult peace keeping operations, both in Burundi and more recently in the Darfur region of Sudan, which are also combined with an active diplomacy for peace making. We commend these efforts and strongly support international efforts to assist the AU with whatever assistance, financial or logistical, that may be required in this respect.
We also urge the parties in these conflicts, particularly in Darfur, to work constructively with the mediators to resolve the outstanding issues, so as to bring peace and stability to the people of that suffering region. At the same time we strongly deplore and condemn the recent kidnappings and killings of AU personell in the AMIS-operation in Darfur, which seriously threatens both the peace efforts and the international assistance to the region.
We believe that the African Union, in close cooperation with NEPAD and the existing sub-regional organizations, may play an increasingly important role in enhancing economic cooperation and integration across the African continent. This represents an important impetus for Africa’s development, and for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.