President Lula says Brazil can’t repay debt to Africa, as summit opens
“Sal, Cape Verde – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Saturday that his country would never be able to repay the ‘historical debts’ it owes Africa, and proposed a relations hip between Brazil and Africa that transcends trade and commerce.
President Lula, who spoke as the first Brazil-ECOWAS summit got underway on the Island of Sal in Cape Verde, said conditions must be built to ensure the transfer of technology to Africa ”so that they can produce what we are producing”.
‘There is no way to pay back our historical debts to Africa. We are debtors in our ways of being, our culture, our arts,” he said to a huge applause from the participants at the opening ceremony of the one-day summit, adding that Brazil would not have been what it is today without the efforts of millions of Africans.
Saying he did not reach out to Africa just to seek new markets for Brazilian products, he said the relationship between his country and the continent must be built on a more concrete platform for the mutual benefits of the two.
As a first step, he announced the plan by his country to build a University in Ceara, in Brazil’s North-east, for the training of 10,000 African and Brazilian students (5,000 students each) in key sectors.
President Lula said the African students to be trained at the institution must return to Africa at the completion of their studies to help speed up the developmental process in the continent, ”not find a girl friend and decide to stay back in Brazil”.
He also proposed the establishment of an African-Brazilian Centre of Excellence in Biofuels to ensure capacity building and training, as well as a joint Brazil-ECOWAS Financial Mechanism to give incentives to investments and trade.
Alluding to his impending departure from office, after the completion of his tenure in the next six months, the Brazilian President said there was no need to worry about the continuity in relations between Africa and Brazil, which he has championed since assuming office.
He said Brazil had made a ”political decision” to strengthen its historic, cultural and linguistic ties to Africa, adding ”Whoever comes after me will be morally, politically and ethically committed to maintaini ng the ties with Africa.”
Reiterating his commitment to the strengthening of relations between Brazil and Africa, he said by the time his tenure ends in January 2011, he would have visited 25 countries in Africa.
Declaring the summit open earlier, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who holds the rotational chairmanship of the 15-member ECOWAS, described the meeting as an ‘epoch-making event” and describe d President Lula as a ”true and great friend of Africa”.
He said the summit was an offshoot of the Africa-South America (ASA) Summit, the first edition of which was held in Abuja, Nigeria, in Dec. 2006.
President Jonathan said the presence of many West African leaders at the ECOWAS-Brazil summit was an indication of their commitment to strengthening South-South relations, and advised that concrete programmes must be identified and developed at the summit in the interest of the peoples of West Africa.
He listed the possible areas of collaboration as renewable energy and infrastruc tural development, among others.
Welcoming the Brazilian President, ECOWAS Commission President James Victor Gbeho described the summit as ”the fulfilment of the dream of leaders on both countries of the middle Atlantic who have always advocated unity and solidarity between the peoples of Africa and South America and the Caribbean, in particular.”
A political declaration is expected to be issued at the end of the summit which comes a day after the 38th summit of ECOWAS at the same venue.”
(Quelle: Afrique en ligne.)