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Dynamic Africa will help world economic recovery, says Sarkozy ahead of G20

By Gemma Ware
Posted on Saturday, 22 October 2011 10:11

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on world leaders not to use the financial crisis as an excuse to ignore urgent actions that need to be taken on global development.

He said that stimulating growth and domestic demand in developing countries could help the recovery of the world economy.

Sarkozy was speaking in Paris on Friday at a conference on development ahead of the G20 summit in Cannes on 3-4 November, hosted by the French presidency.

“This crisis is an opportunity for us to take swifter decisions,” he said, adding that it should not be used as a “pretext for refusing to take a decision”.

“The distinction between North and South is no longer relevant,” he said, adding that today, “all continents have a voice” in the future of globalisation.

Sarkozy said that concrete proposals would be put in front of global leaders at Cannes to help stimulate a more sustainable world growth that moved away from “short term interests”.

For the first time ever, G20 ministers of finance and cooperation met on 23 September in Washington to draw up the proposals, which will focus on four key areas: food security, infrastructure, social protection and innovative financing.

Tidiane Thiam, the French-Ivorian chief executive of insurance firm Prudential, has been charged with drawing up a list of 10 exemplary infrastructure projects that, with the right mix of public and private backing, would have a significant impact on development.

One project is the long-running Grand Inga dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is already receiving preparatory support from the African Development Bank.

Instead of taxing financial transactions, send our money back to Africa

Sarkozy came out strongly in favour of a tax on financial transactions, the day after the majority bloc of his ruling UMP party failed to pass a vote in the French parliament on such a tax.

“Globalisation must be regulated, it must be controlled and amongst those rules there will be, there must be a tax on financial transactions,” he said.

However, in a subsequent panel discussion on food security, Mamadou Cissokho, honorary president of the Network of West African Farmer and Producer Organisations, said the G20 should instead focus its efforts on stopping money stolen from Africa from sitting in European banks.

“Instead of taxing financial transactions, send our money back to Africa,” he said.

Eleni Gabre-Madhin, chief executive of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), urged the G20 not to “stop at market information and food reserves” when considering the issue of food security.

She said the G20 should look at how to better improve access to markets, including improved storage facilities and transportation systems to stop food production wastage.

“Africa is interested in partnerships, investments and trade – not handouts,” said Gabre-Madhin.

The ECX has traded 504 tonnes of coffee, sesame, beans and maize since it opened three years ago, worth a total of $1.2bn.

During September, its information service received 1 million phone calls from farmers looking for price information, which works out as 8,000 calls per hour of the working day.

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