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Sat, 05 Sep 2020 09:49 - Updated Sat, 05 Sep 2020 09:50

Angolan president defends "Marshall Plan" for Africa

Luanda - The president of the Republic, João Lourenço, Friday advocated an industrialisation of the African continent based on a new perspective of acceleration, anchored in Germany's "Marshall Plan'' for Africa".

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The Angolan Head of State took this standing when he was participating, by videoconference, in the Third Edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit.

At the event, promoted by the United Nations Industrial Development Agency (UNIDO), President João Lourenço stressed that Africa's economic, industrial and technological development would depend on a serious commitment to the massive training of qualified staff in the most different branches of knowledge.

According to the Angolan President, the investment in training must be accompanied by the creation of policies that will motivate the permanence of these executives in their respective countries.

The statesman noted that "Africa is one of the continents with the world's greatest reserves of natural resources such as water from rivers and lakes, arable land, forests and abundant mineral resources, including some rare and strategic ones, but it is nevertheless, paradoxically, the least developed continent in economic, industrial and technological terms".

João Lourenço considered that "the colonisation to which the continent has been subjected for centuries and the present relations between Africa and the industrialised world have contributed negatively to the present situation, in the unjust trade of the raw materials produced by us and the consumer goods manufactured by the most developed".

The President of the Republic argued that it is necessary not only to create jobs in Africa, but also to invest in infrastructure such as roads, ports, railways, the production and distribution of water and electricity, as well as in telecommunications and information technologies".

If the current crisis offers an opportunity to rethink Africa's development, João Lourenço answered yes. "Yes, it does. It is said that difficulties sharpen the genius because when it seems that there are no solutions, then creativity is born and leads us to do the right thing", he said.

In the specific case of Angola, he said, "we believe that it is important to create the business environment that is conducive to private investment, which we have been doing since 2018 with the updating of legislation to protect private property and foreign investment, the facilitation or exemption of visas for investors and tourists, as well as the fierce fight against corruption and impunity, whose beneficial effects on the economy and society are already being felt.

He noted that the country was improving and extending the network of national roads of all categories, continued to invest in increasing the supply of water and energy to industries and populations and would soon conclude the construction of the Laúca Hydroelectric Plant, which would generate 2,070 MW of energy to be distributed throughout the centre, south and east of the country.

Privatizations

The Head of State recalled that the process of privatization of a considerable number of state assets is underway in practically all branches of the national economy, in agriculture, industry, oil, transport and banking, among others.

He also highlighted the tender for the concession for the management of the Port of Luanda, which is currently underway, to be followed by a similar process for the concession of the Port of Lobito and the Benguela Railroad, which links Angola to the mining regions of Katanga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and copper, in the Republic of Zambia.

"Angola being a country rich in mineral resources, in order to guarantee greater transparency in the concession and exploration of these resources, finally the Angolan Government began the process of joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which may provide greater guarantee of foreign private investment in this important sector of our economy," he noted.

On the initiative of the German authorities, President João Lourenço considered the "Marshall Plan for Africa as a form of effective cooperation so that our continent can move firmly and quickly in the process of its industrialisation. It can help to create in our continent the necessary conditions to attract private investment, to lead to economic growth and job creation".

In the opinion of the Angolan Head of State, "this Plan should focus on economic diversification, the establishment of network production mechanisms, with very special attention to agriculture and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Europe can help in this area, the President of the Republic continued, by giving African products greater access to the European Union market and reducing or eliminating customs barriers.

According to João Lourenço, European aid can also focus on the development and modernisation of basic infrastructures such as energy, water, communication routes, telecommunications, as well as strengthening the capacity of our institutions.

"Just as in 1948, at the time of President Harry Truman, three years after the end of the Second World War, General George Marshall, then US Secretary of State, considered that American aid to European countries was vital for their reconstruction and economic and social stability, and the aid programme that became known as the Marshall Plan was born, in his honour, today it is also in the vital interest of Europe and the world to have a developed Africa with economic and social stability", João Lourenço defended.

In detail, President João Lourenço explained how he would like to see the initiative advanced by the German authorities put into practice, noting that "what Africa wants is only the need to maintain a relationship of cooperation that is fairer, equal and with reciprocity of advantages".

He considered that "in this way, the Marshall Plan for Africa should be based on the reconstruction of war-torn countries, the removal of barriers to trade and the modernisation of industries".

In summary, he said, "the success of the Plan should be based on the objectives of Agenda Africa 2063, where the European Union and Africa should cooperate politically, economically, socially and culturally to ensure the continent's progress".

Rational use of financial resources

On how multilateral organisations and financial development institutions should be harnessed to foster Africa's progress, President Lourenço argued that "the Marshall Plan for Africa introduces a demanding dimension to the implementation of partners' funds".

The concept of "reform partnerships" has been introduced in the plan, this is the support of bilateral and multilateral partners will be further strengthened the more goals of the African Union's 2063 Agenda are achieved by African countries.

The head of state explained that "Angola believes that donors, development financial institutions and multilateral organisations should introduce greater flexibility in the settlement of loans, create new funds to respond to the crisis and be quicker to implement the initiatives.

"On our side is the commitment to channel the support obtained to the right areas and ensure better monitoring in the implementation of the different programmes," he said in conclusion that "weak project leadership and insufficient coordination with partners may have led in the past to a waste of resources, which today more than ever should be avoided.

Today, the first day of the Summit, was reserved for a high-level panel, during which the ideas that various African Heads of State have on the subject were made known.

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