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General News of Friday, 9 February 2007

Source: GNA

Kufour to attend Summit of Heads of State of Africa and France


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Accra, Feb. 9, GNA- The 24th Summit of Heads of State of Africa and France which will help strengthen the development partnership between the continent and France opens in Cannes, France, on Thursday, February 15.

The two-day meeting, which would be held on the theme: "Africa and the World Balance", takes place at a time the region is enjoying the spotlight of global attention.

President John Agyekum Kufuor, the African Union Chairman, is among the leaders invited to the Summit.

The political leaders would be expected to use the forum to review the commitments they pledged themselves at their last meeting in the Malian Capital, Bamako, in December 2005, in terms of cooperation in trade, integration of the youth in the political process, dismantling illegal immigration networks and job creation.

Of particular interest is the extent to which their resolution on the proposed Euro-African Investment Fund to support young people of Africa is being worked out.

Another significant issue that captured attention in the final Communiqu=E9 of the Bamako Summit was the return of African expertise to the continent.

The African Diaspora, due to its quality and high level of revenue generation, is seen as a key factor for the continent's development. To ensure that the region benefits from African expertise outside, the political leaders held the position that the countries of origin and the host countries should work together to mobilize the technical and financial capabilities of the Diaspora, harness them into development projects in the home countries as well as limit the numbers leaving through local training.

Consequently, it was suggested that a Franco-African working group be set up to study the phenomenon and put forward solutions. With an average growth rate of five per cent in recent years, Africa is on the path to real development and it is important that this is backed by an increase in official development assistance from development partners.

France, which has been a champion of Africa, has already instituted a solidarity contribution in this regard on plane tickets and it is estimated that 200 million Euros would be generated annually. In Ghana, France has been very supportive of the country's development over the last six years.

France is presently providing about 11 million Euros for the Northern Bridges Project, funding the National Identification Programme and assisting in the Public Sector Reform alongside other activities in the country.

As President Kufuor journeys to Cannes, France, to participate in the Summit, it is the hope and the prayer of Ghanaians that, he would on the sidelines of the meeting, as he has always done, work for further development assistance from the French Government. 9 Feb. 07

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