Africa’s voice was heard at G20: Ethiopia

meles_zenawiADDIS ABABA (AFP) April 4, 2009— Africa’s voice was heard and surprising progress was achieved at the G20 summit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who represented the continent in London, said Saturday in a statement.

“After the summit, prime minister Meles made it clear he believed ‘a surprising level of progress’ had been made. He felt ‘Africa’s voice had been heard’,” the foreign ministry said, quoting the premier.

“The summit communique promises much, and in many respects it has been a success. Africa appears to have been given most of what it pushed for,” the statement added.

Leaders from the Group of 20 rich and emerging economies agreed Thursday at a London summit on a raft of measures to pull the global economy out of its current crisis, including a huge funding programme.

The summit also allocated more than one trillion dollars to the International Monetary Fund and other institutions, ordered a crackdown on tax havens and excessive corporate pay, and new measures to help poor nations.

“Prime minister Meles said the immediate issue now was timing and that it was important that the additional resources should begin flowing as soon as possible and certainly by the third quarter of the year,” the statement added.

Ethiopia is not in the group of the world’s 20 rich and emerging nations but Meles was invited to participate and represent a continent which counts only one country in the elite economic club, South Africa.

African banks had invested little in the so-called “toxic” assets that ignited the crisis and the continent was relatively spared by the first phase of the global downturn last year.

But tumbling trade, declining remittances and dwindling foreign investment are piling pressure on the continent and the IMF has predicted African growth of about three percent in 2009, half the rate forecast last year.