When the outbreak of H5N1 in Kaduna State, Nigeria, hit the headlines, the alarm bells rang in the international press, with stories about a rapid spread of Avian Flu throughout Africa. However, H5N1 is no more virulent in Africa than anywhere else and the monitoring systems in all countries at risk immediately swung into action. Indeed, contingency plans were already in place in many African nations when the virus was found in Europe and these were reinforced with an impressive number of measures which included training staff on game reserves and farms, setting up diagnosis centres and regional networks, banning poultry from residential areas, close checking of imports, tighter disease control, vaccination programmes and public awareness campaigns, all within a few weeks.
Once again, the story that was reported was only half a story – we got the hype and hyperbole but the facts were missed out. The same is the case with Darfur – a complex issue in which the colonial period is not exempt from responsibility – where the efforts of the African Union to solve the issue have preferred the diplomatic approach to the rocambolesque. Yet if a strategy is low-key, it does not mean it does not exist. In fact, the African Union could not be more involved in the process, through the Peace and Security Commission, the efforts of the A.U. Special Envoy, the Power Sharing Commission and the negotiations with the main players, together working towards a definitive, and not cosmetic, solution.
These are examples of capability, capacity and competence - the commitment of the African Union to solve its problems, the capacity of its member states and the competence of their professionals – three words which so often go unreported and unnoticed.
A further example of how the more developed economies can help redress the imbalance in today’s international community is provided by the Kingdom of Spain, which has pardoned more than half the debt owed by Nigeria. By writing off 127 m. USD of the 227 m. owed, Madrid allows Abuja more space for a timely and adequate application of the funds from its budget, assets which belong first and foremost to the people of Nigeria.