Addis Ababa — The Commission for Africa (CFA), brainchild of British premier Tony Blair, launched its long-awaited report [pdf] on 11 March, urging increased aid to the continent, but stressing the need for African governments to do their bit too.
The report, which was launched simultaneously in London and Addis Ababa, is an attempt to come out with sustainable and far-reaching solutions to tackle Africa's grinding poverty and governance issues, and put the continent back on the road to recovery.
The launch ceremony at Africa Hall in the Ethiopian capital heard keynote speeches from commissioners, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the ECA's Executive Secretary K.Y Amoako.
Meles underlined the inter-dependence of the world today, noting there was now a "far better understanding of what works for development and what is clearly a dead end". He repeatedly stressed the "quintessential African spirit" of the report.
For his part, Amoako said the report acknowledged that Africa was responsible for its own destiny, but no previous report had gone as far as this one to note that the developed world also bore responsibility for the obstacles besetting the continent.
"This report is not about blame," he said. "But acknowledging the past is vitally important."
The launch ceremony concluded with six children reading out the Commission's Declaration in their languages before being presented with medals by Prime Minister Meles.
In closing remarks, the head of the Commission's secretariat Myles Wickstead pointed out that now the report had been launched, the next steps would be very important.
At a press conference following the ceremony, both commissioners noted the importance of 2005 for Africa. Meles stated that if the G8 endorses the report at its summit in Britain later this year, this would create an enabling environment for implementing the recommendations. He believed there had been a dramatic change in the approach of some countries towards Africa.
Speaking earlier at a pre-launch briefing, Wickstead also underscored that this was a critical year for Africa. "There is no Plan B," he warned.