Draft Annotated Agenda - Conference of Ministers
African countries have undertaken, over the recent years, a very ambitious agenda of reforms aimed at improving the economic, political and social conditions in the region. Overall, these reforms have led to significant improvements. However, a majority of countries in Africa, and more specifically, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), continue to face serious challenges and are not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Against this background, the year 2005 represents a critical moment for Africa coinciding with a number of major international events of critical importance to the region. Among those, we can highlight: 1) the UN Millennium Project reported in January, and its findings to be considered at the global review of the MDGs by the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for next September; 2) the publication of the final report of the Commission for Africa; and 3) the publication of the first report on the Mutual Review of Development Effectiveness in the context of NEPAD, a joint review prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the ECA at the request of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.
In this context, the theme of the 2005 Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development - Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa - is both relevant and timely. The discussion will notably focus on: i) why African countries are generally not on track to achieve the MDGs and ii) what can be done in terms of strategies, resources and modalities, to improve the situation.
At the 2002 Conference of African Ministers, the participants agreed that the poverty reduction strategies (PRSs) would be the main instrument to incorporating continent-wide priorities into national programmes and accelerating progress towards the MDGs. So far the regional experience with PRSs shows that increased country ownership and participation have had a gradual and positive impact on the formulation of national development plans. However, the PRSs have not been underpinned by comprehensive growth strategies and have not had enough focus on the MDGs. The Ministers will therefore be invited to share their views on how these issues can best be addressed in the context of a second generation of PRSs. In this context, the Ministers will discuss ways of strengthening, within the PRSs, growth, employment creation and poverty reduction. The session will, in particular, address the importance of investing in the agriculture and infrastructure sectors and mainstreaming trade in the national strategies in order to stimulate economic growth and achieve the MDGs.
As agreed at the 2003 Ministerial Conference, operationalizing mutual accountability and monitoring commitments are essential to improving performance in the region. At this year's Conference, a special session will be devoted to discuss the first joint Mutual Review report by the ECA and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). During the session, the Ministers will be invited to share their views on the main messages and key recommendations of this report.
The Conference will bring together senior policy makers from Africa, OECD Ministers, representatives of Africa's multilateral and bilateral partners including UN agencies to examine these issues and identify additional steps that African countries and their development partners could consider to help Africa make tangible progress towards the MDGs. The Issues Paper on the theme of the Conference will inform the discussions.
1. Opening Session
2. Election of the Bureau
The election of a new Bureau will be followed by a short statement by the new Chairperson of the Commission.
3. Adoption of the agenda and programme of work
4. Consideration of the report and major recommendations of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
The Commission will have before it the report of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Committee of Experts held in Abuja from 11 to 13 May, 2005. The report will highlight the main issues considered by the Committee as well as the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee of Experts. Under this item, the Commission is invited to consider and adopt the report of its Committee of Experts, including the draft resolution on the proposed programme of work and priorities for the biennium 2006-2007.
5. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa
During this session, the dialogue with Ministers will focus on how to achieve the MDGs in Africa. It will provide Ministers with an opportunity to share experiences and draw lessons learned from best practices across the continent. The discussion will contribute to reaching consensus on the key policy measures particularly on ways to better accelerate, within the PRS framework, growth, employment creation and poverty reduction.
6. Briefing on the report of the Commission for Africa
This briefing will provide the opportunity to inform African Finance Ministers on the main conclusions and policy recommendations of the report of the Commission for Africa. The Commission, chaired by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, published its report in March 2005. Following in-depth analysis of what is working and what is not, and extensive consultations within Africa and with the international development community, the report proposes a comprehensive package of measures aimed at translating Africa's development aspirations into a reality.
7. African/OECD ministerial dialogue on the Mutual Review of Development Effectiveness in the context of NEPAD
Development effectiveness is now at the top of the agenda of the global development partnership. This session will be an occasion for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the first Mutual Review report. African Finance Ministers, together with the OECD Ministers of Development Cooperation will be invited to share their views on the proposed actions to improve development effectiveness and the selected benchmarks to measure progress. It is expected that the discussion will lead to a convergence of views on the critical elements for an operational framework for enhancing development partnership for meeting the MDGs based on the principles of African ownership, international partnership and mutual accountability.
8. Any other business
9. Consideration and adoption of the Ministerial Statement
After consideration, the Ministers will adopt a Ministerial Statement which articulates their views on the theme of the Conference and other related issues.
The conclusions of the meeting will feed into the African Plenary on the PRSs scheduled to take place at the end of May 2005 in Cairo, Egypt. They will also be reported at the high-level segment of ECOSOC for 2005, the outcomes of which will in turn, inform the comprehensive review of the MDGs during the sixtieth session of the UN General Assembly in September 2005.
10. Closure of the Session