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Mbeki urges Africa-diaspora dialogue

afrol News, 19 November - South African President Thabo Mbeki saw the urgent need for greater cooperation between Africa and the diaspora.

Mbeki, who made the comments at the opening of the African Diaspora Ministerial Conference in Midrand, Johannesburg on Friday, believed this would enable the continent to successfully respond to challenges such as the attainment of peace and stability.

South African leader said despite making “huge contributions” to the freedom struggles by the diasporans in the Americas, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and France, African countries are yet to reciprocate.

He expects a cut in telecommunication costs in Africa by the end of 2008 when a 9,900km-long submarine table between Durban [South Africa] and Port Sudan becomes operational.

Mbeki said apart from financing 33 different projects [costing US $800 million] under New Economic Partnership Development (NEPAD), the African Development Bank had also made US $1.6 billion available for the improvement of infrastructure, especially rail, road and energy sectors in Africa.

"If we are able to work together with the Africans in the diaspora, utilising the skills and expertise that many of them have, many of these programmes and projects will be implemented faster and more efficiently,” President Mbeki said.

A Caribbean pan-Africanist, Ambassador Dudley Thompson, could not hold his anger against the disempowerment of Africa, six centuries of “white capitalistic hegemony”, among others.

He said two million black babies die from preventable diseases each year.

"We find ourselves at the bottom of the totem pole economically, militarily, culturally,“ he said, wondering why black people were made to that they descended from an inferior slave race. Thompson described slavery as an interruption of black people’s history.

"Let us begin to write our own history at this conference," he said, urging blacks to dedicate themselves to black empowerment through pan-African philosophy.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré drew the attention of the conference to “our brothers in Zimbabwe" who according to him, are in dire need of help to solve their problems.

The former Malian President urged for the creation of a unity government in Africa.

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