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Final communique 24th conference of heads of state of Africa and France

19 February 2007, Tautona Times NO 5 2007

1. The 24th Conference of the Heads of State of Africa and France was held at the Palais des Festivals et de Congres in Cannes, on the 15th and 16th of February 2007, at the invitation of Mr. Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic.

2. Forty-nine delegations of African countries took part with France in the Conference, as well as the representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, the European Commission and the international Francophone Organization. For the first time, the sitting President of the European Union, Mrs. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, was invited to take part in the Summit. Japan was also for the first time invited and was also represented in the person of Mr. Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Minister and leader of the Africa Commission of the Japanese Diet.

3. The Conference, which was preceded by a preparatory ministerial meeting in Cannes on February 13, 2007, had as a central theme "Africa and the equilibrium of the world". On the initiative of the President of the French Republic, a Forum on "Africa of the Future" also met, on February 12th, in Paris at the Park of the Villette; about sixty African guests representing various fields of success, in the economic, cultural, and political spheres gathered together to participate in the event.

4. At the opening ceremony of the 24th Summit Africa-France a reading of the conclusions of the Forum "Africa of the Future" was made by Mr. Erik Orsenna member of the French Academy and Mrs. Christine Kelly, a journalist. Short speeches were also made by:
o Mr. Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali, and Chairperson of the previous Summit;
o Mr. Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and nominee to Chair the next of Summit of 2009;
o Mr. Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Minister of Japan;
o Mrs. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and current President of the European Union;
o Mr. John Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana and the African Union; and
o Mr. President of the French Republic (Chirac).

5. The Conference had as it theme, "Africa and the equilibrium of the world". It was discussed within three baskets (workshops): "Raw Materials, "The Place and Role of Africa in the World", and "The Relationship of Africa in the Information Society".

6. The work of these baskets resulted in the following conclusions:

6a) Raw Materials in Africa

The workshop was chaired by Mr. Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, who was assisted by two resource persons, Mr. Eric Orsenna and Mrs. Thandeka Gqubule. It arose from the discussions of this workshop that:

o The current dynamism of the world economy provides Africa with a unique opportunity to take its full place in globalisation and to transform its natural wealth towards sustainable development.

o More balanced industrial partnerships, the upgrading of infrastructure and a better representation of Africa in international trade negotiations and institutions can contribute to such an outcome

o Respect for the principles of good governance is also a guarantee for the sustainable management of the natural resources.

o Concerning cotton, the revival and the deepening of the Partnership between Africa and Europe, the installation of innovative mechanisms to mitigate the effects of the volatility of the world markets and the anticipated application of the commitments entered into at Hong Kong for cotton were all underlined.

o The creation of a University of Cotton, supported by France and the European Union, will also contribute to the necessary modernization of the dies.

6b) Place and Weight of Africa in the World.

This workshop was chaired by Mr. Sassou Nguesso, President of Congo, who was assisted of two resource persons, Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director- General of the FAO and Mr. Jean-Pierre Pram, Deputy Governor of the Bank of France. It arose from work of this workshop that:

o The safety and the growth of the world as a whole have become inter-dependent on the stability and the development of the African continent.

o Consequently, there is a need to now reinforce at the representation of Africa in international institutions (e.g. the Security Council, United Nations agencies, and international financial institutions), and to further ensure better coordination of such institutions with African authorities.

o There was also insistence on the need for continued mechanisms to ensure controlled globalisation in the commercial field, taking into account the special needs of developing countries who currently benefit from preferences with regard to the financing of their development, with the installation of innovative mechanisms necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals;

o A United Nations Agency for Environment be established to better guarantee global custodianship.

6c) Africa and the Information Society.

The workshop was chaired by Mr. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, who was assisted by two resource persons, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim, President and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Mamadou Diouf, a Senegalese historian and academic. The following points arose from the workshop:

o The diffusion of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is a prerequisite for Africa's participation in the global Information Society and for the enhancement of Africa's image.

o The launching of a true "Marshal Plan" and UN Decade were cited to close the "Digital Divide".

o The need to raise educational levels in the general population and promote greater professionalism among journalists was also underlined.

o All the participants agreed on the ultimate responsibility for Africans, and their leaders, to help change the current image of Africa in the global media.

7. The findings of the three baskets were reported by their Chairs, with their peers/co-participants, at the time of the Summits closing Plenary Meeting on Friday, February 16th.

8. A meeting, convened by President Jacques Chirac, together with the African Union Chair John Agyekum Kufuor, President of Ghana and, Presidents Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Omar Al Bashir (Sudan), Indris Déby Itno (Chad), François Bozize (Central African Republic), Omar Bongo (Gabon) and Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo-Brazzaville), was held in margin of the Summit. It led to a declaration annexed to the present official statement (below).

9. The Heads of State also expressed their concern about the situation in Guinea and adopted the annexed declaration (below).

10. 18 African countries announced their adhesion with the international facility for purchase of drugs - UNITAID - established in New York in September 2006. They also adopted a political declaration aiming at primarily implementing the innovative financing of the development in the form of contributions to a solidarity fund from sales of plane tickets, of which the whole or part of the resulting income will thus be supported by UNITAID. This will assist the said African countries in their fight against the Africa's three most fatal pandemics - AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria - which devastate their continent. They thus decided to become not only beneficiaries, but also givers and actors in the UNITAID initiative, thus underlining the partnership dimension of the initiative.

11. The participants in 24th Summit of the Heads of State of Africa and France also accepted the offer of Egypt to organize next Summit in Cairo in 2009.

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