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Organization of the Conference

1. The Plenary Session of the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa was held at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, from 4 to 5 March 2004.

2. The Conference was attended by 167 delegates from 37 Member Nations of the Region, of which 23 were represented at Ministerial level; 13 observers from Member Nations outside the Region, 2 observers from the Holy See, 13 representatives from 9 Organisations of the United Nations Specialized Agencies, 20 observers from Intergovernmental Organizations and 49 from International and Regional non-governmental organizations. The list of delegates is given in Appendix B.

Inaugural Ceremony

3. The inaugural ceremony was held at the Sandton Convention Centre, in the presence of His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Mr. Jacques Diouf. Her Excellency Thoko Didiza, Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs of South Africa, welcomed the delegates to Johannesburg on behalf of the Mayor of the city. She wished the Delegates a successful meeting and looked forward to the outcome of the Conference which would respond to and address the food security as well as poverty alleviation challenges in Africa.

4. On this occasion, the Director-General of FAO and the President of the Republic of South Africa delivered two inaugural speeches summarized under section II - Statements. His Excellency Helder Muteia, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development of Mozambique, expressed the delegates’ appreciation of the warm welcome and the multicultural show that displayed the rich arts of the Republic of South Africa. He finally thanked the President for sharing his insights on agricultural development and poverty as well as the Government and people of South Africa for their warm hospitality.

Election of Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of Rapporteurs

5. The Conference considered the recommendations made by the Africa Group of Permanent Representatives to FAO in Rome, regarding the officers to service this session of the Conference and approved by acclamation the composition of the bureau as follows:


Republic of South Africa
H.E. Thoko Didiza,
Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs

First Vice-Chairperson:

Mr Aristide Ongone Obame
Secrétaire Général de la Commission Nationale pour la FAO

Second Vice-Chairperson:

H.E. Mohand Laenser
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development

First Rapporteur:

H. E. Dr Samba Buri Mboup,
Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa

Second Rapporteur:

Dr. Gerrishon Gituma
Deputy Director Veterinary Services

6. The Conference also constituted a "Friends of the Rapporteur Group" comprising: Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Egypt, Mali, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable

7. The Meeting adopted the Agenda and Timetable with amendments. The Agenda is given as Appendix A, while the list of documents is shown in Appendix C.

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