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Women’s Empowerment, Regional Integration, Malaria Prevention Discussed At WEF On Africa

On the second day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, Graca Machel, founder and president of the Foundation for Community Development, called on African governments to implement strategies aimed at empowering women in order to accelerate the continent’s social and economic development, Tanzania Daily News/allAfrica.com reports. 

“It’s not just about the numbers … There has to be a plan: Who are the partners and the timeframe to reach the desired targets? But more importantly we need to show how many women have been empowered and at what levels,” Machel said. “Again, we need to shift from the mindset that women belong to a group of disabled and vulnerable groups. We need to give them an equal chance by not just talking but acting the right way,” she said.

In addition to representatives from Coca-Cola and TechnoServe, Asha-Rose Migiro, U.N. deputy secretary general; Margaret Sitta, the Tanzanian minister for community development, gender and children; Sithembiso Nyoni, Zimbabwe’s minister of small and medium enterprises development; and African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka participated in the session, Tanzania Daily News/allAfrica.com reports (Nderumaki, 5/6).

Also on Wednesday, another session covered “how to move on beyond regional to pan-African economic and social integration so as to be able to compete with the rest of the world,” The Citizen writes in an article reporting on the session. The role of the private sector and non-trade barriers were discussed (Kanyabwoya, 5/7).

Another session looked at how the United Against Malaria (UAM) partnership is using the upcoming FIFA World Cup to fight malaria, the Ghana News Agency reports. UAM “is bringing together global health organisations, governments, corporations and football teams ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, to help reach the United Nations target of universal access to mosquito nets and malaria medicine in Africa by the end of 2010,” the news service writes (5/6).

On the sidelines of the WEF on Africa, Kanayo Nwanze, president of the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said African governments should support small farms to address hunger on the continent, Reuters reports. 

According to Nwanze, 80 percent of food consumed in Africa comes from peasant farmers, but governments have not provided the necessary infrastructure to help them develop. “The rural poor need to receive help because they are the ones that produce the food and we need to help them become profitable. For too long, we have neglected the rural sector,” he said. “You have to invest in the rural economy if you want people to stay in the rural areas,” he added, highlighting the importance of retaining youth in rural areas.  

He also noted a 2003 promise African governments made to invest 10 percent of their budgets in agriculture. “If African countries were to reach that target, you are looking at unleashing anything from $40-$100 billion annually … no matter what their budgets are,” Nwanze said. He said Africa should use its own natural resources. “It does not make sense to grow crops in the country and export those crops elsewhere when the population is subsisting on foreign food aid” (Nyambura-Mwaura, 5/6).  

In related news, a planned demonstration “to protest decreasing funding for HIV” and other health concerns in Africa was cancelled by the Tanzanian government and several advocates were detained, IRIN/PlusNews reports. According to the news service, “[a] planned national workers’ union strike prompted Tanzanian President Jakaya Kiwete to cancel all demonstrations this week.” Bactrin Killingo of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), one of the detained advocates said, “We had received permission to hold the demonstration [on 5 May], but later received a letter cancelling it” (5/7).