Africa’s development is one of the many significant priorities the international community has to address collectively. With 900 million people on the continent, around 40% of them living on a dollar or less a day, 70% of the UN PKO budget goes to help solve African conflicts. Yet, Africa holds a promising future: Africa's new found optimism and vibrancy stems from its strong market performance in recent years, driven by high commodity prices, better regulatory regimes, structural reforms, higher growth rates, rising foreign direct investment and foreign exchange reserves, robust export performance, and lower debt levels.
To promote sustainable development, peace and security in Africa, international coordination and public awareness are key elements. The Japanese government and the European Commission are willing to play an important role, with the support of the African Union, the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the Japanese-German Center Berlin, by organizing this international symposium on Africa’s Development in the Charlemagne building of the European Commission.
There are three rationales for doing so. First, Africa, the EU and Japan are intensifying their cooperation: In December 2007 the EU-Africa Summit took place in Lisbon; in May 2008 Japan will host TICAD IV, a large scale international conference on Africa’s development and the July 2008 G8 Summit Meeting, which will be held in Japan, is expected to focus on Africa’s development as one of its key topics. The high-level symposium in Brussels will attempt to use this momentum to make further progress in cooperation and policy coordination ahead of this year's key meetings.
Second, both Japan and the EU are important partners for Africa’s development with leaders on both sides agreeing at the latest summit meeting in June 2007 in Berlin that they should tie up and work together on African development issues. This symposium is intended as a follow- up meeting to the leaders’ commitment. It will also act as a focal point for interaction between the Lisbon Summit and TICAD IV.
Finally, there already are various levels and types of cooperation frameworks to deal with Africa’s challenges, including those established by the EU, Japan, China, as well as by NGOs. As we explore possibilities to make our partnership more effective, now is the time to scrutinize our cooperation with Africa by bridging the gaps between these cooperation frameworks and relevant stakeholders. In this context, this symposium is expected to spark further discussion on how to realize efficiency in international cooperation on Africa’s development and best contribute to international efforts to achieve the MDGs in Africa notably through increased aid volumes and greater aid effectiveness.
With these rationales in mind, the co-organizers, Japan and the European Commission, together with the European Policy Centre and the Japanese-German Center Berlin wish to offer a fruitful discussion through their intellectual and organizational resources.
The over 100 invited participants will include policymakers, experts and NGOs from three continents. The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, will open the joint symposium with a keynote speech.
For confirmation of participation and more information on the symposium contact: