Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Kofi Annan’s plans to create a new forum to work on Africa’s problems took concrete form earlier this week with the registration Monday of the Africa Progress Panel as a Swiss-based non-profit foundation. The former United Nations secretary general is its new chairman and the group, temporarily based in London, England, will move at some point to Geneva. Annan said that it will have a small staff but that it is too early to provide budget and staff numbers.
The new Africa "forum" will work to bring about closer cooperation between humanitarian aid groups, the business world and governments. "We want to bring new players to the humanitarian cause," said Annan, speaking to the Swiss Foreign Press Association. "Lots of countries are not yet engaged."
The group will not duplicate what others are doing, such as coordinating relief efforts, he said, but rather, it will look for "ways to exploit and seek synergies." The private and NGO (non-governmental organization) communities
can be brought together, he insisted, adding that humanitarian groups have "a lot to learn from the private sector."
As an example, he recalled a conversation with a WHO (World Health Organization) leader who showed him a Coca-Cola bottle and a small vial for HIV-Aids vaccine, asking why, if a multinational can master logistics enough to get its product into every village in the world, the same can’t be done for medical supplies.
The new group is currently consulting widely and establishing its strategy and its agenda, he said. It will hold an annual meeting to bring together NGOs, governments and the private sector. During the year task forces will meet.
The work of the group is closely related to other wwork Annan has taken on since he left the UN at the end of 2006. He is chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, which, he believes, can help Africa to double or triple its food production in 10 to 20 years, starting with improving seeds. "Africa is the only continent that cannot feed itself," he noted.