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In report on Africa, Annan sees progress on peace, development amid persistent problems

In report on Africa, Annan sees progress on peace, development amid persistent problems

Violence, declining donor funding, and the scourges of AIDS and poverty are still critical problems plaguing Africa, although efforts at restoring peace in the region and promoting economic development and good governance have started to make progress, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report released today.

Since November 2001, the peace process in Eritrea and Ethiopia is being consolidated and the Great Lakes region is showing signs of stability, the Secretary-General notes in his latest progress report to the UN General Assembly on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

Meanwhile, the signing of a peace treaty between the rebels and the Government of Angola earlier this year raises hopes for a possible end to the longest civil war in Africa, Mr. Annan adds. In May, Sierra Leone held successful elections, restoring democracy to the country. However, the nearby conflict in Liberia, which is spreading to Guinea, is cause for concern for the fragile peace being forged in Sierra Leone.

Despite this difficult environment, Mr. Annan observes that economic growth in Africa averaged about 3.1 percent last year. Nevertheless, although some 15 African countries achieved a more than 5 per cent growth rate, it still falls short of a 7 per cent annual growth rate needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015.

In addition to poverty, HIV/AIDS also remains a critical challenge, the Secretary-General says. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has now mobilized about $700 million, far below the goal of $7 billion to $10 billion needed annually.

"The demand for global AIDS grants far exceeds the available resources," Mr. Annan writes. "Thus one of the challenges that the Fund is facing is to raise the resources needed from donors, the private sector and corporations, including non-governmental organizations."

The Secretary-General praised the continent's leaders for adopting the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) initiative, which underlines peace and stability, good governance, democracy and respect for human rights as preconditions for development.

"By adopting NEPAD, African leaders have acknowledged this link and committed themselves to strengthening the continent's capacity for conflict prevention, management and resolution," Mr. Annan says.