Annan calls for transparency

Kofi Annan called on African leaders to put the needs of their people first.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Former United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan on Friday urged African leaders to be scrupulously transparent and accountable for the benefit of their people.

He chairs the Africa Progress Panel, which presented its Africa Progress Report 2013 at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town.

Tax evasion, unaccountability and poor governance were cited as some of the factors hampering growth in several countries on the continent.

The report painted a bleak picture for much of the continent.

Annan said policymakers had urgent decisions to make as national resource income could no longer be squandered.

He insisted it should be invested in people to stimulate growth.

Annan suggested bold national agendas had to be implemented to strengthen transparency and accountability.

According to the panel, international tax evasion, corruption and weak governance were the major challenges directly impacting on people.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma spoke at the official opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa.

He called on Africa to become self-sufficient.

He also detailed the importance of South Africa's role in the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (Brics) group of developing countries.

Zuma told the delegates that South Africa's inclusion in the Brics group would be beneficial to the entire continent.

The president reiterated the importance of driving growth and alleviating poverty.

The 23rd World Economic Forum on Africa kicked off on Wednesday and will wrap up on Friday.