4 March 2008

Africa: Islamic Countries to Forge New Partnership

Dakar — Several heads of state and more than 5,000 guests are expected in Dakar next week as Senegal hosts the 11th summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization in the world, and 26 of its 57 member states are in Africa. The Dakar summit, scheduled to begin March 14, will be an opportunity to lay out a new charter for better cooperation among member states.

The theme of the conference, the second to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, is: “The challenges of the Ummah (Muslim community) in the 21st century.”

OIC members will explore ways to redefine traditional solidarity in a changing world and forge economic partnerships, for example by removing tariffs and trade barriers for an Islamic common market.

The OIC places on wealthy member states the duty to assist those that are less prosperous. The challenge it faces is to steer Arab capital towards Africa and other Muslim countries that are economically weak.

Member states also envision a scientific partnership for sharing knowledge. Such efforts are already underway, under the supervision of the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (Comstech).

Islamic universities already exist in Niger and Uganda, and there is a technological university in Bangladesh. But Comstech can do better, and it is important that the Ummah invests more resources to unleash the Muslim world’s human potential.

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