The launch of the 2005 edition of the joint Development Centre/African Development Bank African Economic Outlook (AEO) took place on 17 May at a crowded press conference in Paris and simultaneously at the Annual Governors' Meeting of the ADB in Abuja in Nigeria.
The publication, which announced 5.1 per cent growth for the African continent as a whole -- the best figure for 8 years and the second-best for almost 30 -- caused considerable interest both in the development community and in the media in OECD and developing countries. The place of aid in development and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals are amply discussed and analysed in the publication, which also emphasises the role of the private sector in Africa despite the apparent "missing middle" consisting of small and medium-sized enterprises. The AEO's authors call, in particular, for providing more appropriate and flexible forms of financing for small enterprises to allow them to move more easily out of the informal sector, to grow and to create employment.
These conclusions were debated in the Development Centre's International Forum on African Perspectives, hosted by the French Ministry of Economy on 7 June. This event, linked to the AEO, brings together the business sector, economists, authors, journalists, political actors and others interested in African affairs. This latest edition provided the stage for both the first speech by the new French Minister Delegate of Co-operation, Brigitte Girardin, and a valedictory speech from outgoing President of the African Development bank Omar Kabbaj. Documents from the Forum are available on the web site: www.oecd.org/dev/meetings/africanforum2005.
The AEO is an annual publication prepared by African and OECD/ADB experts and financially supported by the European Commission. For further information: www.oecd.org/dev/aeo.