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The GCA is an innovative, intergovernmental forum that brings together senior African policy makers and their partners to deepen dialogue and build consensus on Africa's priority development issues. The GCA's added value lies in the distinctive composition of its constituency, its emphasis on frank and open exchange of views, and its policy-focused approach. Participation in GCA meetings is at the ministerial and senior policy level, while some African heads of state frequently attend. The involvement of parliamentarians, representatives of the private sector, non governmental organizations and the media, ensures that a variety of voices are heard and a diversity of opinions expressed.

The GCA was established at a time when there were concerns that attention and resources would be diverted to countries of the former Soviet Union following the end of the Cold War. It aims to ensure that Africa remains high on the international agenda, to facilitate greater understanding of the development challenges faced by the continent, and to promote agreement on necessary actions to be taken by both African governments and their international partners. Its mandate and priorities are determined by Plenary meetings that are held every five years. Following its most recent Plenary in October 2001, the GCA's agenda is focused on the broad themes of a) peace and security; b) governance and transition to democracy; and c) sustainable growth and integration into the global economy.

Policy guidance for the GCA is provided by its co-chairpersons, who also determine the GCA's work program on an annual basis. The GCA Co-Chairpersons are President Festus Mogae of Botswana, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konaré, Dr Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Minister Hilde Johnson of Norway, and President of JICA, Sadako Ogata. Former President Sir Ketumile Masire of Botswana, former Minister Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, and former World Bank President Robert McNamara are Co-Chairpersons Emeritus.

The Policy Forum is the GCA's major annual event. In 2004, the Policy Forum will discuss Migration and African development. A number of other meetings are also organized each year to consider specific issues that fall within the GCA's broad mandate and priority agenda areas. In addition to its own activities, the GCA collaborates with partners in support of Africa's development; for example it is a co-organizer, along with the Government of Japan, the United Nations, UNDP and the World Bank, of the Tokyo International Conference in African Development (TICAD). The uniqueness of the GCA mission and membership mean that it is:

Alert and quick in taking up sensitive issues. It has been out in front on good governance, peaceful transition of power, the new role of the military, the fight against corruption, and in identifying constraints to investment, productivity, economic growth and poverty reduction. Furthermore, it has focus attention on political and governance questions, and on major economic policy issues, including the promotion of trade and investment, agricultural productivity and competitiveness, and strengthened regional economic integration. It has also encouraged the creation of a policy environment conducive to substantially expanded private sector activity - the theme of its 2001 Plenary.

Well-positioned to move from open and frank discussion to promoting effective action. Pulling together key decision-makers from North and South and providing an important forum for African leaders, including those of civil society organizations, to share their experiences as the basis for new initiatives.

Effective in keeping Africa on the global agenda and getting opinion leaders to think internationally. In addition to its own activities, the GCA co-organizes, with the Government of Japan and the UN, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. It was a member of the organizing committee of Global Forum II on Fighting Corruption and Promoting Integrity. It collaborates with a number of international organizations - AfDB, ECA, EU, OAU, UN, WB, OSAA - and NGOs on ad hoc activities. And in annual letters it brings African issues to the attention of the G-8. 

The GCA has consistently called for genuine partnership with Africa based on mutual responsibility, and for greater policy coherence on the part of Africa's partners. In this regard, it has promoted increased concessional assistance and broader, deeper and faster debt relief for African countries. It has also called for enhanced cooperation on trade and investment to facilitate Africa's more complete integration into the global economy. Annual letters to the G-8 from the Co-Chairpersons have encouraged action on these and other issues.

Under the overall guidance of its Co-Chairpersons, the GCA's activities are coordinated by a Washington-based Secretariat. Mr. Hage Geingob, former Prime Minister of Namibia, is the GCA Executive Secretary. In addition to its meetings and collaboration with other organizations, the GCA produces an Annual Report that reviews political and economic trends in Africa and includes an essay on a topical issue.

2004 Policy Forum - Migration and Development in Africa
TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference (AATIC) - Tokyo, Japan - November 1 and 2, 2004
Annual Reports
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