African failed states' warning

HALF of Africa's nations could become failed or failing states in the next decade if their governments did not address the global financial crisis and climate change, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said yesterday.

African leaders should unite to demand a financial recovery package for
the continent, Meles said in a speech at the African Union heads of
state summit in Addis Ababa.

Compensation should also be sought from industrialised nations for the
effects of global warming. It's likely that the coming decade or so
will be very dark indeed for Africa, Meles said. Our prospects are
not bright at all.

The International Monetary Fund says economic growth in Africa may slow
to 3,4% this year, from 5,2% last year amid expectations that economies
such as the US, Japan and the UK will suffer their deepest recessions
since the Second World War.

Rising global temperatures have intensified the effects of droughts, floods and storms in Africa, scientists say.

According to the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, soil
damage caused partly by climate change could plunge the continent,
which is home to 1-billion people, into chaos as food production falls.

We have to recognis e the dire consequences of what is unfolding
before our eyes, said Meles. Our continental organi sations should be
seized with this matter in a much more effective and serious matter.

Meles said that Africa should take a more aggressive stance in seeking
compensation from rich countries that spent billions of dollars bailing
out their financial systems. The world's biggest financial companies
suffered losses of more than $1-trillion since the start of the US
subprime mortgage crisis in 2007.

Meles said, A bank in these countries which is deemed too important to
fail is getting more assistance, more bail-out money than the whole
continent of Africa. We have to insist that Africa is at least as
important in the global economy as the individual banks getting the
bail-outs.

Meles urged fellow African leaders to nominate a single representative
to lead negotiations at the United Nations conference on climate change
in Copenhagen in December to present a united front on behalf of all 53
countries.

The coming decade is likely to be a period of structural transformation and the associated pain of transition, he said.

The fate of countries and continents is likely to be determined by how
well and how fast they adjust to the transition. Those who lack these
resources and capabilities are likely to suffer and may even fail.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) said that it would triple its
lending to African countries to help the world's poorest continent
fight the effects of the global financial crisis.

AfDB president Donald Kaberuka said at the summit that the bank would
take four steps to support vulnerable nations, including a $1,5bn
emergency liquidity fund and a $1bn trade finance facility.

Africa has gone through two decades of structural adjustment and hard
work, he said. For the past six years we have begun to bear the
fruit. Now suddenly (we are suffering) this crisis, which is not of
Africa's making.

The bank will also set up a board to push for closer regional economic
integration and cut red tape that slows funds from reaching low-income
countries.

The World Bank has said Africa's economic growth will slow to 3,5% this
year, from an average of 5,8% a year over the past decade, and might
drop to 2,5% next year. With Bloomberg and Reuters

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