|On Tuesday, December 7, 2010, during the European Development Days in Brussels, the Fondation Chirac organized a conference on “How to fight falsified medicines?” President Jacques Chirac gave Tuesday’s closing address.Download Jacques Chirac’s speech (pdf)|
Dear Thomas Boni Yayi,
Your Excellency Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal,
Minister Charles Michel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In just a few days the first decade of the 21st century will come to an end. It has borne witness to the rise of a new world order whose contours we are still struggling to define. It has endured a financial crisis that has shaken the very foundations of economy.
It has faced a rise in terrorism.
Globalization, more firmly established than ever, has also led to the emergence of new powers such as Brazil, China, and India.
These countries have become major players, full-fledged partners with Europe and the United States.
They must fully assume their roles within these new relationships that also entail new responsibilities.
In the context of such progress, Africa is caught midstream.
Its place within globalization has yet to be consolidated.
Allow me to thank the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for organizing these Days devoted to Development. They have given us the opportunity to debate this issue.
With one billion inhabitants and its human resources, with its mining and energy reserves, with its arable land waiting to be farmed, Africa is a giant in the making.
Its development is a prerequisite for sustainable development for all.
At the beginning of this 21st century, the continent remains the object of desires.
My belief is unwavering: globalization cannot succeed without a strong Africa who controls its prosperity and takes full part in the management of the planet’s affairs. Africa cannot be strong without shared development.
Today, Africa still has the highest concentration of poverty. For example, the gross domestic product of all 48 sub-Saharan countries is equivalent to that of Switzerland or Belgium. Entire regions are not implicated in processes of economic development, nor in the realities of human development. This is particularly true in the central regions of Africa that are sparsely populated and have remained isolated.
Despite this, Africa is off to a much better start than circulating clichés let on. The premises of profound changes can be seen a little bit everywhere. They are the basis for an economic and social takeoff. Furthermore, democracy must take root. I am of course thinking of the Ivory Coast where the voters’ will must be respected.
These changes are not due solely to exports of raw materials.
They stem from the regrouping of populations around urban areas, offering a young and abundant workforce. These changes help develop trade and increase productivity. Finally, they ensure the profitability of infrastructures. A controlled urbanization could be an opportunity for Africa.
A third of Africa’s population already lives in cities.
Growth in the South of the Sahara is currently 5% per year. This is a good rate but still insufficient if it is to rapidly catch up with the other regions across the globe.
Without a doubt, these changes embody a chance and an opportunity.
These same sorts of changes made possible the birth and growth of European and American industries, the emergence of the “Asian Tigers” in the 1980s, and the spectacular development of China in recent years.
These changes should give rise to the “African Lions” of the 21st century.
They have already paved the way for the development of a middle class, an essential vehicle for economic development and political stability. 300 million sub-Saharan Africans will belong to the middle class by 2040.
Africa is at a crossroads.
Its progress must be fervently supported by the international community.
First, to allow African populations to permanently put poverty behind them.
Then, because the rest of the world needs Africa to succeed.
This continent has the largest stores of arable land – 900 million hectares, a quarter of which is still unfarmed – and the tropical forests in the Congo Basin are the planet’s second lung.
It may seem paradoxical but Africa detains the solution to the global food crisis and it is on this continent that the environmental crisis will be solved. Without Africa, there can be no solution.
Sustainable management of environmental and natural resources in Africa is of utmost urgency. It is a planetary emergency.
Food security is another.
I have always believed that we must encourage food producing agriculture and organize outlets for these products on African domestic markets.
This is one response to the food problem. It will also help ensure a balance between urban and rural areas.
On a more global level, in order to feed the planet’s 9 billion inhabitants in 2050, a global agricultural program needs to be created that will make the best use of technologies and markets without destroying ecosystems.
The French presidency of the G20 will be an opportunity to place these issues at the core of debates.
Today, emerging countries must be encouraged to take part in this global dialogue in support of African development. I reiterated this to my Chinese friends during my recent visit to this great and beautiful country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Achievements must not be compromised by evils that weigh more heavily on these populations than elsewhere: pandemics, food shortages, climate changes, desertification, floods …
They must not be annihilated by latent conflicts over the sharing of natural resources, especially water.
The right to universal access to water was finally recognized last July by the UN.
We must now imagine and implement new financing programs such as the tax on financial transactions proposed under Japanese Presidency, last September 21st during the UN’s General Assembly, by the pilot group on innovative financing.
Alongside Brazil, Korea, Chile, with my esteemed friends, Blaise Compaore and Thomas Boni Yayi, and also 14 African countries including Burkina Faso and Benin, we led the way in 2006 by instituting a pioneering solidarity contribution on airline tickets. It helped lower the price of medication against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria by 64% in the poorest countries.
I urge more countries to join this initiative which has proven effective. Today, the solidarity contribution on airline tickets helps three out of every four children treated for AIDS worldwide.
At the head of my foundation, I am continuing my battle for innovative financing as well as my fight so that the right to water and its inseparable corollary sanitation, as well as the right to healthcare and quality medicines be recognized by all.
The conditions for Africa’s successful development necessarily involve the organization of regional domestic markets. This requires efforts to be made for infrastructures and to harmonize customs legislations.
I would like to salute the role played by the African Union and regional organizations like ECOWAS in the birth of this process of economic integration.
Europe, with 49 billion Euros per year, is the largest provider of funds dedicated to development in the world, especially to Africa.
It represents 55% of total official development assistance; all to its credit.
The absurd and unacceptable paradox would be that, at the same time, its Member States are less interested in Africa despite the fact that the continent’s impact resonates more and more.
The issues may seem too far removed for those European Union countries that have no historical ties with Africa.
Yet a few short miles separate Africa from Europe. By the mere fact of this geographical proximity, the destinies of Africa and Europe are linked, whether we want it or not.
This shared destiny is actually a strength. Europe and Africa account for almost half the countries on the planet. Together, we can weigh on globalization and rise to its new challenges.
Together we can define and enforce rules that will enable Africa to find its own development model.
It is up to Europe – true to its history, its alliances, and its ideals – to turn towards Africa so that it will finally fully integrate world economy, defining its own conditions for its role in globalization.