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Africa still lagging behind inspite of economic growth–Obasanjo

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Former President  Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday said Africa was still faced with low performance in education, health and food security in spite of economic growth on the continent.

He also said that the continent was still bedevilled with poorly developed infrastructure, poor leadership and governance.

Obasanjo said this in his  address of welcome  at the formal inauguration of the Africa Progress Group (APG) in Abeokuta.

Olusegun Obasanjo

The forum also featured  a session of  tribute and celebration of  the life of former United Nation Secretary General,  Kofi Annan.

According to the former president, Africa  is a continent on the rise with  six of the 10 growing economies in Africa.

” Six of the 10  fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa. Real income has risen by 30 per cent in the last 10  years.

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“Foreign Direct Investment has risen to about $64 billion, while remittances have reached $56 billion, exceeding total official development assistance.

“While economic growth is taking place in Africa, the continent continues to be associated with low performance on most indicators in education, health and food and nutrition security and is noted for poorly developed and maintained infrastructure, poor leadership and governance,” he said.

Obasanjo said the rationale behind the establishment of APG was to pursue an agenda with all African governments, private sector, international development partners and other actors.

According to him,  this is to ensure that every African, now and for generations to come, lives in a world  with  fair chance of leading a healthy, happy, prosperous, and fulfilling life.

“Africa Progress Group will support inclusive community and share societies; bolster multi-stakeholder initiatives to combat the plunder of Africa’s oceans and minerals; increase annual expenditure on agriculture and infrastructure development,  particularly rural infrastructure.

“It will also boost investment in Africa’s energy infrastructure, push for innovation and advancement in science and technology and focus policy changes to benefit the poor, the marginalised and disconnected.

“It will work for economic integration in Africa and intra-regional energy trade, combat illicit financial flows and tax evasion, adopt global transparency standards and ensure gender equity and give hope to our youth.

“APG will harness the vast opportunities in the continent so that its transformation will accelerate, and become a reality for all,” the former president said.

In his keynote address, former Prime Minister of Italy, Prof. Romano Prodi,  noted that Africa has made significant progress in the last decade although it  “still needs more push.’’

Prodi, however, said  Africa must make more efforts in manufacturing and agriculture, describing this as a sure avenue to build the continent.

He added that even though Europe and China were in the forefront of development, they still need Africa.

In the special tribute session for Annan, several speakers extolled  the virtues  of the late statesman, describing him as a proud African peacemaker and a true iconic figure of modern times.

Some of the speakers included his son, Kojo Annan,  the Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Tesfai Tecle, Bishop Matthew Kukah, and President Nana Akufo-Ado of Ghana.

Others were the vice chancellors of selected universities and  student leaders from all sub-regions  in Africa.

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