French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, called on Tuesday (11 May) for the launching of a new western fund to aid African development.
French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, called on Tuesday (11 May) for the launching of a new western fund to aid African development. He made his suggestion public at the end of a 20-nation Franco-African summit meeting at the Palace of Versailles near Paris, called to discuss African political and economic problems.
President Giscard said the fund could be launched by nations which had, what he termed, historical links with the African continent, adding that the United States could also join. according to french Government officials quoted by Reuters, the United States Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger has already agreed to U.S. participation in the fund.
It was a similar unexpected gesture by the French President at the start of his term, which brought the current dialogue between the industrialised and third world nations into existence.
The proposed fund, which is called "The Exceptional Fund for the Development of Africa" would deal with precise problems including new rail and road links for landlocked countries, the struggle against drought and increased development of mineral resources. No details have been given on when the new fund would come into being, or what money would be at its disposal. President Giscard proposed the calling of a conference of potential donator state if the proposal is well received.
According to Reuters, quoting delegates to the summit, the French President had African fears of the Soviet Union following the Angola crisis in mind when he unveiled his proposal. The idea of replacing confrontation with co-operation has long been a pre-occupation for the French leader in his dealings with the Third World.
There was no direct or immediate reaction from African leaders to the proposal. Some delegates attending the summit -- including President Houphouet Boigny of the Ivory Coast and President Alberto-Bernard Bongo of Gabon - told newsmen that they wanted to see aid priority given to those African nations most heavily dependent on oil imports.
The African and Indian Ocean nations taking part in the summit were: Ivory Coast, Gabon, Upper Volta, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Mauritius, the Seychelles Islands, Benin (formerly Dahomey) Burundi, the Cape Verde Islands, Guinea-Bissau, the Central African Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad, Zaire and the Comoro Islands. The countries represented included some which are not in the traditional French zone of influence.
However, several French speaking African states, including the left leaning Malagasy Republic and Congo-Brazzaville, declined to take part in the summit.
SYNOPSIS: The Place of Versailles near Paris, where, on Tuesday, French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, called for the launching of a new western fund to aid African development.
The President made his suggestion public on the final day of a 20-nation Franco-African summit meating, called by France to discuss political and economic problems facing African nations. President Giscard said the fund could be launched by nations which had historical links with Africa. He also said the United States could join.
The proposal was unexpected. It was announced at a meeting which had principally dealt with the creation of yet another fund for African development which will be sponsored by France alone among industrialised countries, and come into existence next Januaray.
According to French Government officials, United States Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, has already agreed to U.S. participation in the newly proposed fund.
African Leaders attending the summit, included President Houphouet Boingy of the Ivory Coast. He made no direct comment on the fund proposal when he held a news conference at the end of the meeting.
However, President Boigny did say that the development aid available, must first go to those countries facing heavy oil import bills.
Some delegates to the summit regarded the fund proposal as a French move to take advantage of newly emerging African fears of the Soviet Union, following the Angolan crisis. But the idea of replacing confrontation with co-operation has long been a pre-occupation for the French President in his dealings with the Third World.
President Alberto-Bernard Bongo of Gabon echoed President Boigny's concern that those nations heavily dependent on oil imports must go to the front of the aid queue. As it stands, the fund proposal would deal with precise problems - including: new rail and road links for landlocked countries, the struggle against drought and increased development of mineral resource.
No details about the fund have bee released or what money will be at its disposal. But a conference is planned -- if the idea is well received.