Closing Statement of the Co-Chairpersons
The Co-Chairpersons were gratified by the frank, open and rich discussion which took place at the 1996 GCA Forum.
The discussion of supply response to economic reform programs proved to be timely for two reasons. First, a number of African countries are beginning to reap the fruits of long years of implementing difficult and often painful reform programs in the form of significant growth that is greater than the growth of population. These countries are now grappling with the need to stimulate a response to these successful programs on the part of investors, farmers, traders, and other productive population groups.
At the same time, donors are reviewing their strategies in light of both African experiences, some of which were described eloquently by African representatives, as well as their own requirements to make development cooperation more efficient and more effective in response to the concerns of their tax payers.
In light of the discussions, the Co-Chairpersons were encouraged by the commitment to continue with economic reform, and note a growing consensus on the main elements of what is needed to encourage strong supply response. These include African ownership and coordination of their own development programs; greater cohesion and better coordination among donors to avoid duplication, competition, and contradictions; increased attention to the vital role of African women in development; an emphasis on development of rural areas, where the majority of Africans reside and earn their livelihood; the need to ensure popular and civil society participation in both the design and implementation of reforms; the creation of a more comfortable and attractive environment for the private sector through regional integration, the strengthening of the rule of law, and good governance; and the mobilization of domestic savings at far higher rates than the current level of 15 percent.
It is also clear that the social aspects of economic reform should not be ignored if development is to be achieved. This will require increased resources for basic education, health services and rural infrastructure. Moreover, reduction of population growth will flow from ensuring that development addresses the needs of women, and that education, health and economic empowerment programs in particular provide adequately for women.
The Co-Chairpersons applaud the consensus of the Forum on the necessity for including poverty alleviation strategies in all reform programs. Policies to alleviate poverty should be integrated into all economic reform programs, and need not await the achievement of Asian-type growth rates. Indeed, alleviation of poverty will contribute to the overall improvement in the rate of growth.
Additionally, the Co-Chairpersons wish to express appreciation to our guests from Asia who graciously participated to provide information about the experiences of their successful countries. They persuaded us, among other things, that there is no inherent reason specific to Africa which can impede rapid economic growth at the Asian levels of 6-9 percent, provided appropriate policies are adopted by both African governments and their development partners.
Finally, the Co-Chairpersons wish to caution against some thought that increased access to markets for African exports might substitute for declining development assistance resources. Both increased market access and continued development assistance will be needed.
Supply Response: A Review of Experience in some African Countries