African ministers boost water development for agriculture, hydro

Ministers from 53 African countries pledged December 17 to promote water development across the continent to fully exploit agricultural and hydropower potential.

The closing declaration of the Water for Energy and Agriculture in Africa conference said water is the key resource to economic and social development as well as to hunger and poverty eradication in Africa.

The declaration called for expansion of sustainable land management and reliable water control, and accelerated investment in water for agriculture and energy. The conference declared support of efforts to enhance clean energy production in Africa, particularly in developing hydropower potential and strengthening regional power pools.

The ministers committed to "encourage accelerated integration of the continent's power network, the development of waterfalls to provide electric power, and of small hydropower generation to speed up rural electrification."

The declaration urged the African Regional Economic Communities to promote regional centers of excellence and networks for agriculture, hydropower generation, water management, climate change, desertification, drought, floods, and environmental management.

The ministers welcomed a proposal by conference sponsor United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to convene a world summit of heads of state and government in 2009 to agree on the rapid and definitive eradication of hunger through improved governance of food security and by finding US$30 billion a year to invest in water and rural infrastructures.

The conference was organized by FAO with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya government, in collaboration with the African Union, African Ministers' Council on Water Development, the African Development Bank, and the Economic Commission for Africa.

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