Vice President Namadi Sambo
Nigeria was conspicuously missing from the list last weekend as smaller African nations staked sizable funds to tackle challenges of food security in the continent.
While Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, reputed to have the largest economies in Africa, are yet to stake any amount, Equatorial Guinea donated $30 million to a new solidarity trust fund that aims to mobilise African financial resources in support of strengthening food security in the region.
A THISDAY source within FAO however noted that the global food body was not yet worried about Nigeria’s absence, stating that the awareness of the fund was still being propagated and there is time for the West African giant to decide and make its contribution.
According to the FAO, the first donation to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was made official in a ceremony at the margins of the third Africa-South America Summit in Malabo, attended by its Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Meeting with the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, before the signature of the donation agreement, Graziano da Silva said the contribution was a sign of the country's commitment to eradicating hunger in Africa.
FAO Regional Representative in Africa, Maria Helena Semedo, who signed the agreement on behalf of FAO, added: “This generous contribution by Equatorial Guinea helps transform political will to end hunger into concrete action. I invite others to follow this example and lend their financial support as well.”
The goal of the new trust fund is to pool resources from Africa's strongest economies and use them across the continent to support national and regional food security initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
The idea of the fund was launched during FAO's April 2012 regional conference held in the Republic of Congo, when the host, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, called for greater solidarity between African nations to fight hunger.
Besides Equatorial Guinea, other African countries have expressed their intention to contribute to the fund. Angola is one of them, as President José Eduardo dos Santos told Graziano da Silva when he visited Luanda in late January 2013.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is intended to complement, not supplant, development assistance from overseas donors.
At the onset, it will focus in particular on strengthening the resilience of rural families and communities in the face of recurrent droughts and other crises such as the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, scaling up activities that have already proven successful.
Administered by FAO, the fund will support Africa-led, Africa-owned initiatives such as the African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to boost agricultural productivity in the region.
“We can end hunger in Africa if we work together under the leadership of African governments and regional institutions, learning from one another through South-South cooperation and other exchanges,” the FAO regional representative added.
Semedo explained that the effort should involve not only governments and international organisations like FAO, but also civil society, the private sector, academia and other partners.