Lula predicts African prosperity

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Lagos - Brazil's ex-president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday predicted that Africa would not waste its chance to prosper through the 21st century, suggesting that Western dominance would likely fade.

The former Brazilian leader spoke in Nigeria's economic capital alongside President Goodluck Jonathan at a conference focused on poverty alleviation.

Recounting what are considered his major successes in boosting prosperity in Brazil through his 2003-2010 tenure, Lula said he felt compelled to share lessons with African leaders.

“We are indebted to Africa,” he told business and political leaders at the Economist Summit, noting the historic ties between Africa and Brazil, including the millions of Brazilians of African descent.

He described the world's poorest continent as experiencing “a historic moment, with democracies being consolidated,” in most states.

“The 19th century and the 20th century were the century for the Europeans and the US, and the end of the 20th century was for China, but the 21st century will not be wasted by Africa and neither by South America,” he said through a translator.

He insisted that neither of the emerging regions wanted “favours” from the more advanced economies, with the only requirements being investment and the opportunity to prove “competence.”

Nigeria's president cited the Brazilian example as a model for what he termed his drive to curb poverty in Africa's most populous country and top oil producer where most still live on less than $2.0 a day.

However, endemic corruption continues to hold back Nigeria, and critics say Jonathan has not done nearly enough to begin allowing the country to live up to its potential.

Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, applauded for her efforts to tackle corruption, told the audience that Nigeria wants to follow the example set by Brazil under Lula.

“We have not achieved what Brazil has achieved, but we are moving in that direction,” said Okonjo-Iweala, also a former managing director at the World Bank.

Lula's visit to Lagos followed a trip by Brazil's current president and his political heir, Dilma Rousseff, who met with Jonathan last month, announcing plans to seek enhanced energy ties.

Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Nigeria's coal, oil, natural gas and alternative energy sectors.

Nigeria is Brazil's main commercial partner in Africa, with bilateral trade soaring from $1.5 billion in 2002 to $9 billion last year. - Sapa-AFP



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