Malawi's vice president Joyce Banda has called for closer working relationships between Africa and South America, saying good working relations between the two continents were crucial to attaining sustainable social-economic development.
Banda said while there is disparity in terms of social-economic development, the two continents had some common challenges that needed shared solutions. She was speaking at a meeting of African and South American heads of state being held in Venezuela the two regions.
“It is sad that South America and Africa have often trodden on difference paths over common challenges. The end result has been disintegration, lack of unity, increased poverty and social-economic uncertainty among the people of the two great areas. This must change,” said Banda.
Banda cited mining, energy development, agriculture and industry development as some of the areas that needed a common approach, adding failure to harness each others’ ideas had increased economic disparities for the peoples of the two regions.
“Isolationism will never help us; it will never help things. Let us begin to work more closely, and join hands in development projects that may change the facet of people’s lives. For example, we have the Shire-Zambezi Waterway in Southern Malawi, a project that will help reduce transport costs by as many as 45 per cent and make life easier; we need you to work with us towards this goal.
“The project will help many other neighbouring countries and render the export and import of raw materials and finished products cheaper for many people. In the end, poverty will no longer be a reality but a song, and prosperity will come home for many poor people,” said Banda.
Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, acknowledged that there is a ‘big gap’ between Africa and South America, and called for the immediate bridging of the prevalent gap.
“There is real need for unity. It is time Africa and South America got united and up lift the lives of our people. Why have we allowed this gap to grow? Why have we let it drift us apart? Closer relations between us needed today more than ever before; what with the on going global economic crisis?” queried Chavez.
African leaders have since committed themselves to working more closely with South America, as the world grapples with the effects of the global economic crisis.