83. The Chairperson of the Africa Group of Permanent Representatives to FAO in Rome, the Ambassador from Cape Verde, briefed the Conference that, following consultations among Permanent Representatives it had been proposed that the 24th FAO Regional Conference for Africa be held in Bamako, Republic of Mali.
84. The Conference accepted by acclamation this offer, which would be conveyed to the Director-General of FAO who would decide on the date and place of the Conference, in consultation with member countries.
85. The Conference considered and, after a few amendments, adopted its Report by acclamation.
86. In his closing statement, the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Mr. Joseph Tchicaya, on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Mr. Jacques Diouf, thanked all participants for the successful and fruitful conference. He recalled that the conference agreed that there was need to accord high priority to agricultural development and to provide sufficient investment in the sector in order to reduce levels of undernourishment and poverty in the region. He indicated that in pressing on the efforts to fight against hunger and poverty, the Conference reaffirmed its commitment to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme of NEPAD with the support of FAO and other development partners in accordance with the Declaration made by the Heads of State and Government at the AU Summit in Maputo in 2003.
87. Recalling further the endeavors of the conference, Mr. Tchicaya noted that the Conference appreciated FAOs technical assistance in the region and indicated that one of the major outcomes of the Conference was the unanimous engagement and determination of member countries to implement the CAADP in a collaborative manner and in partnership with all stakeholders. He assured the Conference that FAO, in particular through the Regional Office, would provide its technical assistance in response to priority areas of the region to increase food security, agricultural production and trade in a sustainable manner. He was pleased with the discussion on financing agriculture and hoped that the outcome would be taken into consideration by ministers of finance during their forthcoming meeting in March 2004.
88. Mr. Tchicaya expressed his sincere appreciation to all those who in various ways rendered the Conference a success, particularly members of the National Organizing Committee and the FAO Secretariat, interpreters, translators, messengers and the media. Finally, he expressed his profound gratitude to His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, to the Government and the People of South Africa for their generous hospitality and for the excellent facilities provided for the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa.
89. In moving the Vote of Thanks, His Excellency Jorge Maria Custodio Santos, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cape Verde to FAO, and Chairperson of the Africa Group of Permanent Representatives, on behalf of all delegates and observers, expressed his sincere and profound gratitude to the Government and People of South Africa for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to the participants during their stay in this beautiful country.
90. In her closing remarks, the Chairperson of the Conference, Her Excellency Thoko Didiza, Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs, stressed that she was grateful for the mark of appreciation presented to the President, the Government and the People of South Africa for the successful organization of the Conference. She confirmed that it was a great privilege for her country to host the Conference and felt highly honoured to chair the Sessions.
91. She observed that the recommendations of the Conference deserved proper and timely follow-up and expressed her governments readiness for an effective follow-up, in collaboration with FAO.
92. The Chairperson commended FAO for its leadership and untiring efforts to improve food security and alleviate poverty in Africa.
93. She expressed appreciation for the efficient organization of the Conference by the FAO Secretariat and the National Organizing Committee. She finally thanked all those who had in various ways helped to make the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa successful and wished all delegates, other participants and observers a safe journey back to their countries.
94. She then declared the Conference closed.