In a major key note speech aimed at people across Africa, Lord Malloch-Brown, Minister for Africa, called for an 'Africa first' policy to counter the growing threats from global recession, and increase Africa's influence in global affairs.

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, formerly a United Nations Deputy Secretary General, warned that the continent of Africa 'is in trouble' because of the world economic crisis but with an 'Africa first' approach to regional markets, infrastructure and institutions, 'African lions' may emerge from the financial recession with an ever greater voice in global discussions, including on the UN Security Council.

He told the audience in Maputo, Mozambique on Tuesday 9 June, that aid, trade and investment are all needed in Africa, but that African governments should use the financial crisis as an opportunity to speed up the process of regional integration across the continent. Declining investment, slow growth and high job losses mean that ordinary people are suffering, he said, and there are signs that the economic storm 'may yet whip up its political counterparts across Africa'. He pointed to the fragile political situations in Kenya, Southern Sudan and the DRC, as well as the recent coups in Madagascar, Mauritania, Guinea and Guinea Bissau as examples of this. Lord Malloch-Brown also pointed out the economic problems Uganda had recently faced from the political turmoil in Kenya, as a good example of how problems in one country can affect other parts of the continent.

Lord Malloch-Brown pointed out that in a recent survey nine out of ten Africans said they wanted to live in a democracy and that voter turnout is far higher in African countries than in the UK. He praised the African Union, regional organizations and African leaders who have used their influence across the continent to resolve conflict, and urged them to continue their efforts for the common good.

African regional initiatives to uphold justice and reconciliation were also praised. Lord Malloch-Brown said he rejected the 'rhetoric of neo-colonial conspiracy', pointing out that the International Criminal Court had been ratified by thirty African countries with cases referred to it by the governments of the DRC, Central African Republic and Uganda. 'African institutions of justice must come first with the international courts as a last resort', he said.

However, he said that it is equally important to beat the current global crisis by speeding up the positive economic reforms that have been sweeping the continent in recent years and led to growth rates of up to 10% prior to the world financial crisis. This means opening up regional markets, as the Southern African Development Community have done and the Economic Community of West African States is doing through the planned introduction of a single currency. It also means further regional cooperation on infrastructure such as the British supported North-South Corridor through southern and eastern Africa.

He concluded his speech by urging the adoption of an 'Africa first' policy to implement the kind of markets, infrastructure and institutions that will make a real difference to sustainable growth and development across the continent. By doing so, not just Africa, but the international community as a whole will benefit from Africa's increased influence in global discussions.

Full transcript and audio available

NOTES TO EDITORS

Lord Malloch-Brown was speaking at an event in Mozambique which was co-hosted by Chatham House and the Instituto Superior de Relações Internacionais (ISRI). Event details

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