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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Foreign Affairs

Issue 3 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs met this day at 4:05 p.m. to examine the development and security challenges facing Africa; the response of the international community to enhance that continent's development and political stability; and Canadian foreign policy as it relates to Africa.

Senator Hugh Segal (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Pursuant to the section 14 of the Conflict of Interest Code for senators, I note for the record that I have a private interest that might be affected by the matter currently being discussed today simply because I am on the board of a corporation that employs one of the invited witnesses.

I was unaware that he was invited and I am delighted that he is here. There is no matter as defined by the ethics code being discussed before the committee today, but I did want to make that declaration as a matter of public record.

Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, our agenda today focuses on Africa and particularly the private sector.

[Translation]

It is a pleasure for us to hear today from the representatives of the Canadian Council on Africa: Lucien Bradet, President and CEO, Canada Africa Committee (CCAfrica), and Isa Odidi, President and CEO, IntelliPharmaCeutics and Director of the Canadian Council on Africa (CCAfrica).

[English]

IntelliPharmaCeutics is a pharmaceutical company specializing in controlled release drug delivery.

[Translation]

Jean-François Gascon, Vice-President, Africa, SNC Lavalin, and Director, CCAfrica. SNC Lavalin is one of the largest engineering and construction groups in the world and has more than six offices in Africa.

[English]

Perry Maisonneuve is founder and Principal of Northern Lights Franchise Consultants, and appeared before this committee last April. He is a Canadian businessman with experience in many African countries.

The Canadian Council on Africa is a non-profit organization that promotes trade and investment between business communities from Canada and Africa. It has published many reports on doing business in Africa, as well as two reports that will be the main focus of today's discussion, namely Facilitating Business Travel to Canada: Making Canada Competitive in Africa, published in November 2005, and Unleashing Canadian Entrepreneurship for African Development published in May 2005.

[Translation]

Following a number of unsuccessful attempts last fall, we are very pleased to have you here today, and, without further delay, I turn the floor over to Mr. Bradet, who is an alumnus of the University of Ottawa, the best university in the world. I am an alumnus of that same university. I have to say that honestly for all the members of this committee.

Senator Corbin: Before proceeding, Mr. Chairman, I had been led to believe that there would be a budget proposal to consider today. Is that the case or is that being postponed?

The Chairman: That's being postponed until after our guests' presentation.

Senator Corbin: Today?

The Chairman: Yes.

Senator Corbin: It is not on the agenda.

The Chairman: Pardon me, I thought I had clearly stated our plan. Number 2 is Consideration of draft reports, but the plan was that, if Canadian members agreed, we would then go in camera to discuss budget matters because the Senate Budget committee is starting to do its work and we want to be ready to do so. If we prefer to avoid that discussion today, another period would suit me fine.

[English]

I am in your hands. If you are troubled by it, I am glad to wait.

Senator Corbin: I would have preferred the matter to be put to the steering committee before being brought to this committee. I find it rather unusual that we would proceed this way.

The Chairman: As long as you are comfortable with the steering committee considering the matter tomorrow and not being able to consider the budget again until next week and whatever time we lose at internal control, I am comfortable with what you suggest.

Senator Stollery: Normally, the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration meets on Thursday. I do not know if the budget subcommittee has been struck yet. If this goes to the steering committee tomorrow and then to the main committee on Tuesday, I do not think it will make a difference.

The Chairman: Let me take the advice of my two colleagues on the steering committee, and we will have more time for our invited guests.

[Translation]

Lucien Bradet, President and CEO, Canadian Council on Africa (CCAfrica): Mr. Chairman, I studied at the University of Ottawa and the Université nationale du Rwanda. The African and Canadian sides meet. I want to thank you, on behalf of the Canadian Council on Africa, for inviting us to express certain views on the question before you today.

CCAfrica is dedicated to becoming Canada's leading private sector organization committed to the economic development of Africa. Our council comprises more than 140 organizations. I immediately want to clarify what the private sector means for us. It means all the organizations that have interests in economic development or development of the African economy. That means that our council includes companies, universities, colleagues and NGOs such as Care Canada, for example. We have provincial governments such as Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick, and we naturally have a large number of associate members, eight federal government departments and agencies.

As you can see, we represent the people interested in this field. We believe that economic development is the answer to many of the difficulties facing the 53 countries of Africa. We fully subscribe to the Millennium Development Goals, as defined a few years ago. We must keep those goals present in our minds in all the activities we want to carry out in Africa.

[English]

At the same time, these goals are not easy to meet, and that is why we have to work on the economic side. Of equal importance, emphasis must be given to investments, trade of all kinds, know-how transfers, and natural resources management in order to ensure growth, job creation, political and social stability, a better environment and improved governance in Africa.

We believe that Canada is not playing its full role in Africa. This is the point of view of CCAfrica.

The chair has mentioned our two reports that I believe you have received via email. As another reference and I do not have the document with me, but I could send it to the clerk, we bring to your attention a report published by a group of departments and agencies of the federal government following the round table discussion on September 8, 2005. The report is entitled, Dialogue on Africa-Focus on Investment and Trade: A Summary of Round Table Discussions. Interestingly enough, most of the recommendations made at this forum, where more than 60 people from the private and public sectors participated, are very similar to those we published in our report three months before. The recommendations are almost the same in terms of issues that we face.

We state in our report that the government does not have a coherent and comprehensive strategy on Africa. That is one of the most important issues. When we made that recommendation, we created a bit of hoopla in Ottawa. We did not say that Ottawa does not know what it is doing but if that study says we are lacking then Canada is no exception.

One month after the publication of our report came the report of the Blair commission in Gleneagles. That report says that the problem of coherence is prevalent in most developed nations when it comes to Africa. "It is heads of government that can demand the necessary coherence." The government has an aid strategy. It is clear, and we know what it is. It was spelled out in the document, but there is no clear policy statement and no reference to export credit to Africa, to the importance of natural resources management, to agriculture, to international trade, or the overall presence of Canada on the continent.

It is clear for CCAfrica that a strategy is needed to effectively ensure coherence and efficiency. People ask us what we mean by that statement. Well, let me give you a couple of examples which are quite striking for even people who may not be totally aware of all of the facts.

Why would the Government of Canada plan to double its aid to Africa while at the same time closing embassies? It is difficult to explain why Canada decided to close three embassies 12 months ago.

Why would we reduce our trade resources, people in the field, when the trend — and we can give you the numbers — among the G7 countries is to increase them? The U.S. is doubling its trade resources while we diminish them.

Why would we reduce our resources on the continent when in 2006 it is expected that more than 25 African countries will see their GDP increase by more than 5 per cent, the top three in the world being African. I am talking about the whole world here, not only Africa. I am talking about 100 countries, and I am saying three of the four most important GDP increases will be in Africa — Angola, Mozambique and Mauritania.

You have heard about BRIC — Brazil, Russia, India and China. I have a study here that shows that when you compare the four values of investment value, merchandise export, services export and aid with the BRIC countries and Africa, Africa comes out first or second each time. That is surprising because for a long time people told me that there was nothing happening in Africa. That is not the fact.

The second important element of our study promotes a strong partnership between Canada and the private sector, Canadian universities and colleges and so forth. The lack of collaboration between the private sector and the government is hurting Canadian interests on the continent. The private sector colleges and universities do not have the right policies and programs in Africa.

The third group of recommendations emphasizes the importance of Canada harnessing Canadian know-how and expertise. Before I go on, I would like to cite the White Paper on Australia's Overseas Aid Program that came out a few weeks ago. It says,

Australians deliver over 80 per cent of its aid program. We use Australian expertise, our experience and our resources to tackle poverty. Every year, AusAID awards Australian firms hundreds of contracts for goods and services. Typically, at any one time, AusAID manages more than 1,800 contracts.

If I were to compare that to Canada, you would have the reverse. The 80 per cent becomes 20 per cent and the 20 per cent becomes 80 per cent, which is dramatic for us. We do not see why, following remarks made less than three weeks ago in Ottawa that we should not mirror Australia. We read that in the newspaper and we wonder if we are going to look at that aspect.

We need a better approach to design and implement our aid programs. We are not advocating a return to the tied aid program. We are saying the Canadian government program should find ways to ensure a larger participation for Canadian society. Other countries ensure that their citizens do, so why not Canada for its citizens?

The second report concerns facilitating business travel to Canada, to make Canada competitive. I feel bad talking about that report because just the first part of my presentation would take a long time to go through. However, the second part is important too and I will discuss the visa issue.

When you talk to anyone in politics especially at the federal level, one of the biggest issues is visas for people visiting or immigrating to Canada. It is no different for us. Our members tell us horror stories of the difficulties African business people experience when they come to do business in Canada. I am talking about people that are visiting companies, colleges and universities and trying to do business. We just had a conference in Montreal and a minister could not come because she did not get her visa in time. Another one was refused a visa in her home country. She took a plane to Paris and got the visa there from the same government. Do not ask me how. I do not understand the system and it is difficult for us to understand why it is so difficult for African visitors to get visas to come to Canada on business.

As you may have noticed in the report, we made critical recommendations and observations. At the same time, we said to the government that there are policies and practices that should be revised. We also propose a number of ideas to try to create more speed, predictability, constancy, access and expertise, and for translating ideas into action.

I would like to finish my presentation by posing five questions. Honourable senators should be the ones asking the questions but we thought that perhaps we could capture our remarks and much of our report in five questions.

First, does Canada need an Africa strategy that will take into account not only ODA, but also all aspects of economic development in Africa?

Second, do Canadians have the necessary tools to be competitive in Africa? I have mentioned the visa issue. I have not mentioned the fact that for 20 years we had a program called PEMD. We have not had a PEMD for a year and a half and the only continent that really needs it is Africa. The program disappeared. Compared with other OCD countries, we are the country with the least number of tools to help our economy to be active in Africa.

Third, does Canada have appropriate and sufficient resources in Africa to support Canadian efforts? This question refers to the closing of embassies and the fact that there are five Canadian trade officers to look after all of the sub-Saharan countries. It is difficult to get the services; you have people engaged at the local level but there are not enough of them.

Fourth, even in the context of untied aid, is it reasonable to expect Canadian society — the companies, universities, colleges and NGOs with strong expertise, good reputations and long experience — to play an active role in the implementation of the Canadian program in Africa? We ask ourselves that question because this presence is rapidly disappearing.

Does a large transfer of money from government to government help efficiency to improve in terms of governance and accessibility by the local proponents? Is it possible that it might be difficult for the people in sub-regions of Africa to go to the finance minister to get money for their projects as opposed to dealing with Canadian ODA officials? We have some doubts because we have people telling us it is not easier, it is more difficult. One has to look at that question closely. This fifth question is complex and deserves our attention.

Those are my remarks. Thank you.

Senator Jaffer: Mr. Bradet, I thank you very much for your presentation. As somebody that comes originally from Africa, I was interested in hearing from you. For my colleagues' sakes, just to tell you what it means, there is one visa office for East Africa in Nairobi and one visa office for all the rest of north and east Africa in Egypt. That is where the challenges arise.

In Uganda, where I come from, we have one honorary Scottish person. That Scot represents Canada for all of Uganda. We do not even have an embassy. This is important for my colleagues to know.

I am interested to know whether you have women working with you. What do you see as some of the challenges that women face? As you know, women play a very important role in Africa. In fact, they are the traders. Are you working on the issues of micro-finance?

Mr. Bradet: I do not have my staff with me today. We have a female vice-president in Calgary, one woman in Toronto and a woman originally from the Congo on staff. We have a woman in Montreal and a female vice-president in the Atlantic. Women are well-represented in our staff.

We are working with national organizations in Africa that are focused on business and education. For example, we had 280 people at our conference in Montreal a month ago with 20 African countries in attendance. I would say the majority of the people were women. We hold conferences like that on a regular basis.

With regard to micro-credit, we have organizations such as DID, Développement International Desjardins, which is very active in West Africa. We support their efforts.

J. Perry Maisonneuve, Principal, Northern Lights Franchise Consultants Corporation: Based on our own work in Africa, women in entrepreneurship is a key issue. From a Canadian perspective, there are certain clients of mine that are women in traditional industries, healthcare and education in particular. We are currently working on exporting those professions to different regions in Africa.

Within South Africa and Nigeria, there are very strong franchise systems and other businesses that women run very effectively and competently. This is a growing issue.

In terms of our particular area of specialization, which is franchising, we find it completely congruent with introducing women to entrepreneurship because of the systems and infrastructure that franchising is heir to. We look at that favourably in terms of women.

Jean-François Gascon, Vice-President, Africa, SNC Lavalin, and Director, CCAfrica: In our company we have several business developers. Among them are African women in management and key positions of business development.

With respect to the role of women in development in Africa, I was happily surprised while travelling to Angola, for example, to discover that women are playing a key role in government. This is the situation in Angola where many women are heading state entities and are often the key decision-makers. We see this is a growing trend. We recently saw a woman elected as president of Liberia.

Senator Stollery: I have a couple of questions with respect to your statement that,

...in 2006 it is expected that more than 25 African countries will see their GDP increase by more than 5 per cent, the top three in the world being African.

That percentage is actually not much more than the birth rate. Is there any real growth occurring?

I am not being critical at all about the points that you are making. I am just questioning the details. When you say the top three in the world are African countries, are you referring to the rate of growth of GDP?

Mr. Bradet: Yes.

Senator Stollery: What three countries are they?

Mr. Bradet: Angola, which is at 26 per cent, Mauritania and Sudan.

Senator Stollery: What do they do in Mauritania?

Mr. Bradet: Those three countries are characterized by petrol and energy. These countries are developing themselves in much the same way as Canada.

Senator Stollery: I am surprised. In the next paragraph, you say that the sub-Saharan regions ranks first or second on investment, aid, merchandise and services export.

Could you expand on that statement? As we know, people call Brazil, Russia, India and China the new emerging super regions or super countries. Does sub-Saharan Africa have a rate of investment greater than those four countries?

Mr. Bradet: On the investment side in 2004, the highest country of investment for Canada was Brazil at $6.4 billion. The second highest was sub-Saharan Africa at $2.4 billion.

Senator Stollery: Are you referring to all of sub-Saharan Africa?

Mr. Bradet: Yes.

Senator Stollery: As opposed to all of Africa?

Mr. Bradet: Yes. When you look at it, I do not know many companies, enterprises or universities that deal with only one country in Africa. They deal with blocks and regions of Africa.

We have said to Foreign Affairs that if they continue to use their criteria of priority countries, Africa will never show for the next 25 years because the countries are small. There are 52 countries on that continent.

If you look at the services area, $458 million was paid in 2003 for services to Africa. The next one is China of $298 million. The annual growth is 12 per cent in Africa, 0.23 in China, 0.3 in Brazil and 6.1 in India. Merchandise growth is at 13.6 per cent a year, and it is second after China.

That study showed that there is an unknown potential that we must look at seriously. We cannot treat Africa in the same manner as China. That is very important. The future in many ways is in Africa based on where they are and their needs. Within the next two years, 50 per cent of Canadian aid will go to Africa, if not more. We must take action now.

Senator Stollery: I do not think the Canadian aid figures are anything like the numbers you have given us.

I want to make this clear in my own mind. Are you saying that sub-Saharan Africa, as a region, ranks first on investment, merchandise and service? Does Canada sell that many services to sub-Saharan Africa or the world at large?

Mr. Bradet: Canada sells the services and the numbers are huge.

Senator Stollery: If that is the situation, that tells me we are not doing well in China.

Mr. Bradet: In service we are doing well.

Senator Stollery: I am not questioning our involvement with China.

Mr. Bradet: We are doing well in China with $7 billion in merchandise. We are going down in services. The growth rate is 0.33 per cent, as I just mentioned to you. Those studies were not conducted by us but by Foreign Affairs Canada.

Senator Stollery: I do not want to misstate this. In terms of merchandise and service export, Canadian investment does more business in the sub-Saharan African region than we do in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Is that right?

Mr. Bradet: Individually, yes. Not combined.

Senator Stollery: I understand.

Mr. Bradet: I did not invent those numbers.

Senator Di Nino: I hope I am reading your comments correctly. They are quite critical of Canada and our aid program. You say, "It is clear for CCAfrica that a strategy is needed to effectively ensure coherence and efficiency."

Mr. Bradet: I think what we are saying is that the government has a policy on aid, and it is very much in line with many other countries. However, based on the facts, we have discovered that the involvement of Canadian society over the last few years has diminished greatly in terms of involvement in the implementation of the aid program. The reason why Canadian involvement is diminished is because we are now in an untied mode as opposed to a tied aid mode. We believe that tied aid is a thing of the past and untied aid should be the new way of doing things. However, it is understood that this agreement of untied aid is an agreement that has been signed by all of the OECD countries. When you look at what our competition is doing with DFAIT in countries such as the U.K., Sweden and the Netherlands, it appears to us that those countries have much more participation in the programs. We have members that tell us that they compete on DFAIT programs for international bidding, but they do not understand why 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the U.K. firms win every time.

Sweden is supposed to be one of the models. We discovered recently that Sweden has created a number of foundations in Africa, and they pass a lot of money to those foundations. However, what we have found, which was a little bit shocking, is that when the time comes to spend that money, they know where to go to get the goods and services. It is not in Africa; it is back north.

We are not saying do away with the untied aid. We are saying two things. First, we want to be treated as the competition is treated. Second, we want to ensure that Canadian society participates in something very much valued by African people. Canadian expertise is important. Why are we not there? Do not misunderstand, we want to compete. We are ready to compete at any time.

When you see that 42 per cent of aid in the last year or so went directly to multilateral and approximately 35 per cent to 40 per cent went from government to government, programs and so forth, it is very difficult to know how the money is spent and when the occasion to compete arises. We do not have that information.

Unfortunately, that does not help the Canadian people to participate. We have asked the president of CIDA to help us understand how we can compete more effectively. Where is the information? No one can provide it.

Senator Di Nino: Let me understand what you are saying. I am not sure I am clear in my understanding.

Are you saying that the aid we provide to Africa is not benefitting Canada?

Mr. Bradet: No, we are not saying that.

Senator Di Nino: You said if you are not getting the jobs or the contracts, it is not benefitting Canadian companies.

Mr. Bradet: We are saying we would like to participate in the implementation of Canadian initiatives in Africa, and that can mean at a college or the company in Toronto. That can mean anyone who has experience in Africa would like to be able to compete. If there is a project happening in Tanzania, we would like to be informed about the project and be given the relevant information in order to compete.

Does that translate into benefiting Canada? I do not think so. I think it is a question of fairness for everyone to have a chance and an equal opportunity.

Senator Di Nino: Our understanding is that for the last 50 years, the world has been engaged in attempting to lift Africa out of base of poverty by transferring knowledge, skills and technology so they can solve their problems. Eventually, Africans will solve Africa's problems and no one else will.

My question is compared to what we were doing before and the changes that have taken place which has benefited Africa more?

Mr. Bradet: I think the previous system of tied aid was not good. We are not advocating that system. We have not stated that in any of our briefs. We will not tell you to go back to the old system. We will say that we want equal opportunity with our competition.

Senator Di Nino: We are going to be preparing a report sooner rather than later. These are the final stages of our inquiry and when we are finished, we will present the report to the Government of Canada. We will offer recommendations on how to spend this money to achieve our objectives in Africa. We wish to contribute to the elevation of the African countries to self-sufficiency, in order that they may feed themselves and create jobs so employment can be the salvation I think it can be.

What is your recommendation, from all the experience that you have had, on how we achieve those objectives through Canadian contributions?

Mr. Bradet: We made 17 recommendations. We have difficulty understanding why universities, colleges, NGOs such as Care Canada and companies were wrong on 17 recommendations.

We received an answer. I do not know if it is official or not. They did not find many of our ideas valuable. We do not yet understand why. The new government has not personally replied to our report. If you look at the idea of a Canadian strategy, I do not think it is wrong to have a strategy for Africa.

If you ask the government about its strategy on Africa, on natural resources, on agri-food, on EDC, on CCC, on international trade, you will not get a response, because the government does not have a strategy at this point in time. That was one recommendation, and I do not think it is bad for Canada. I think it is good for Canada.

We made recommendations about the PEMD program. The PEMD program was good for every continent for 25 years. When it came to Africa, they shut it down. You tell me it is mercantile on our part to fight for it. I do not know. I think many small- and medium-sized enterprises and universities in Canada would like to play a role in Africa. Is that for profit? Business has to make some profit, but development is very important as well.

We made a recommendation for EDC to be more proactive in Africa in export development support and lines of credit. The last report I read showed that not a single country in Africa was considered "a safe bet" for EDC. Naturally, if we keep the same valuable criteria that we use in Europe and North America, Africa will never qualify. As a Canadian, I do not agree with those criteria. I think we have to take more risks in Africa to do what you just said — create jobs. We made a recommendation to do more private public partnership because we believe Africa needs billions of dollars in the infrastructure business, so we want to invest money.

We made recommendations concerning the centralized system of information. When we met the Deputy Minister of International Trade last year, we said we would like to have more information about it, he said it is a no-brainer. Yes, it is a no-brainer, but we still do not have it. Is it wrong to ask for information?

You are asking me what we could recommend. We made recommendations which are based on common sense. We are not asking to change laws and regulations. We just want a chance to play our role in Africa. I was in Africa, I studied in Africa, and I feel very bad about the fact that I may not have the chance to be as active as I would like in Africa. I think many of my colleagues, and companies and universities, want the same chance.

Is it better than the past? I think it is better. It is a different regime. However, we have not received much encouragement and we think that it is very important for us to try to convince you that over and above the issues of Africa, of Darfur, of aid, of governance, good or bad, there is also the importance of developing the economy.

Do you know that universities, colleges, and companies transfer knowledge to Africa? We do not sell many goods to Africa. We do not sell many trains and planes. We sell knowledge, which stays there and is transferred and is used by the African people. When the job is done, that is their knowledge. I hear stories every day. In Rwanda, for example, a group from a local college would like to start a silk project, because it is an inland country and has some potential for that product. It is a great idea. We have ideas like that from Canadian organizations all the time. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get there because we are far away and we need a little bit of support. We are not asking for more support than other countries provide.

I do not know if I am convincing you, but I am trying to be as frank as I can with those recommendations.

Senator Di Nino: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Bradet has referred to making recommendations. I believe he is talking about the report called Unleashing Canadian Entrepreneurship for African Development. For the record, I think we should state that that is so. We have a copy, I believe. At least, I have a copy of it. Just so that we can use it for reference, we should put on the record the report. If I have an opportunity, I would like to come back. Otherwise, I would like to thank Mr. Bradet for his testimony.

[Translation]

Senator De Bané: Mr. Bradet, you can answer me in point form, because time is short.

Mr. Bradet: Yes.

Senator De Bané: In two words, what is your assessment of the Canada Investment Fund for Africa? Also, what do you think of the technique used in the last budget whereby, to stimulate certain investments, the government grants tax credits to those who invest in this and that? Should this method also be used for those who want to invest in Africa?

Mr. Bradet: To answer the first question, I would say the Canada Investment Fund for Africa is a good initiative. We officially inaugurated it in Toronto a year ago, in cooperation with CIDA.

I believe the objective of accumulating $200 million to $220 million has nearly been achieved. The only minor problem with the fund is that you have to be very rich to get into the game. The smallest investment projects are for about $15 million. That is a bit restrictive; it is not easy to find $15 million among Canadian SMEs because the fund will never give more than $5 million. There is room for small projects, but these funds have been subdivided among other funds in Africa.

As for the second question, in my view, tax credit investments would be much more productive because that would be one way of helping Canadians share the risk and of making investments in Africa at levels that are more affordable for us.

Senator De Bané: So it is a good idea. As you know, our report on the investment fund is almost finished, and one of the things we want to focus on is economic development in Africa.

You said that a number of friendly OECD countries have a range of tools for Africa and that Canadian business people do not. What are those measures that Canadian businesses are lacking?

Mr. Bradet: Yes. Moreover, we conducted a study to compare how countries like France, England, the Netherlands and Australia put their companies to work. I will send you a copy of that study. I think it is important to share with you.

Senator De Bané: I am interested in that study, because I want to know what those other countries are doing that we are not doing.

Mr. Bradet: I will read you a brief excerpt from a document I have here. I am not the one saying it; this comes from the Government of Canada.

[English]

Canada is failing in key service markets to protect existing investment. To seize important new opportunities, our competitors are positioning themselves to take, prepare, identify and capture the untied opportunities of U.S. $65 billion annually by 2010.

[Translation]

That is not a document that I wrote.

The Chairman: Who wrote that document?

Mr. Bradet: It is a document from the Government of Canada. I am getting back to what Senator De Bané said earlier.

[English]

We base it on facts that have been provided through our research.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Could you send that document to the clerk? That would help us enormously.

Mr. Bradet: Yes, I will send you part of it.

Senator Dawson: As I said earlier, I am new to the Senate of Canada.

The Chairman: It has to be said that he is an alumnus of the University of Ottawa.

Senator Dawson: You referred to visas and security. With what we have just gone through, the idea of expedited visas and monitoring to please our neighbours to the south is a potential source of conflict, because if you are asking us to accept people from outside Canada much more easily, we are increasing the security risk and irritants with our partner to the south.

Earlier you referred to three winning countries that have made major economic progress. Are those countries where Canada is making an extra effort to reward those who perform well, and not always supporting the lame ducks?

When you say tied aid, you are saying that we are altar boys in the international field. While we pretend not to tie our aid, our alleged partners are doing it. I will not ask you to identify any of our partners, but am I misinterpreting your remarks?

Mr. Bradet: I will start with the visa issue. We claim that Africa wants to come to Canada and we of course see that every day. Second, we are saying that, when you have three or four places issuing visas for 53 countries, that makes life quite difficult. It is very hard for someone from Bénin to obtain a visa if he has to go three countries further.

We are saying that the visa regulations that Immigration Canada has put in place are, in many cases, made for more advanced societies and include, for example, computerized forms. I said that made no sense in Africa. They said: Those are our regulations, and we won't budge.

We have requests for the African economies, which do not all have bank accounts like Canadians, who do not have records of employment for the past five years. They ask the questions, and if you do not have the answers, you do not get a visa. It is not right to be that strict. It lacks consistency.

I will give you a very simple example. One Montreal company is training 150 Africans in senior administration. Last year, it had a contract worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in officials from an African country. Visas were denied for five of those people. They had to give the contract to a firm from Boston because it could not lose the contract. That person told me it was the first time that had happened. Two of those five people had gotten visas two years earlier. We cannot explain it. When we told the immigration department that, they answered there must have been missing documents.

Like you, we believe in security, but it is companies that are inviting the Africans; it is Africans who come to international conferences on important matters. I did not mention any countries, but the minister who almost did not get a visa for the education conference in Montreal was not a nobody and, for some reason, did not get a visa. I spoke to the immigration officers. The officers said: Look, if we have any problems, we will talk about it again. I do not want there to be less security, but let us be clear on this and improve the situation through knowledge and training. Mr. Gascon will answer the second question.

Mr. Gascon: For the second question, you mentioned a number of countries that have amazing growth rates. That can easily be explained by a combination of two factors, the very high price of oil and the prices of certain base metals.

Africa's natural resources are still the least exploited of any continent. This means that, in the next few years, massive investments will be made and those investments will result in economic development. In general, for example, those natural resources will be found in isolated regions where there is no infrastructure. We have seen that, and we are seeing it with other projects in Africa: the development of those projects results in infrastructure, whether it is in energy, roads or manpower training. In a number of projects, they have trained thousands of local people, who returned home a few years after the project with certification and training enabling them to work on other job sites. We are not really aware of that in Canada.

We focus a lot on Brazil, Russia and China, but we do not see that there is an enormous amount of change in Africa. People are always surprised when we cite 28 per cent growth rates in Angola. That can be explained because they have reached 100 barrels of oil a day. They have found oil in Mauritania and they are starting to exploit it. A number of countries have major mineral deposits that will start to be mined in the next few years. Now is the time to focus on that and to ensure that our Africa policy is not monopolized by aid. Aid is important, but it must not be monopolized. Africa is different. We cannot talk like other partner countries or like the Europeans. We have to see it as a business opportunity because Africans want to do business with us.

Senator Dawson: On the visa issue, since not all countries can have offices in all countries, there are cooperation arrangements that could be enhanced so that people in certain countries can turn to some of our partners to make it easier to obtain a visa? Does that kind of arrangement exist? Can that be encouraged?

Mr. Bradet: I can say that, if an African applies to go to the United States or England, I could show you people who have visas for two, three, four or five years. If an African comes to Canada, the visa's only for 60 days, 30 days, or 1 visit, that's all. We are extremely strict. We are much more strict than other countries. The reason I am often given is that our political asylum policy is much more relaxed than any other country's. In other words, if someone wants to claim asylum in Canada, we cannot refuse, so we protect ourselves by issuing short-term visas. I do not really understand because anyone can claim political asylum in two weeks. I do not see the difference, but that is the principle. It is not easy. We have received answers, from Senator Di Nino and others; that has very much disappointed us.

There are intelligent people around the table. The board of directors consists of intelligent people in Canada. All the recommendations we have made to the Department of Immigration have been returned to us and rejected. So how is it that only public servants have the truth in Ottawa? That is not right. Something is not working somewhere. We Canadians cannot always be wrong?

[English]

The Chairman: Just so I am clear, Mr. Bradet, you are comfortable that none of the concerns expressed by Citizenship and Immigration are in any way evidence based, is that correct?

Mr. Bradet: Let us say that they have not shown us their evidence on the one hand; and on the other hand, we have evidence that shows that they may not be right. I gave you an example, as did Senator Jaffer, who is originally from Africa.

They are telling us that 76 per cent of all visas given in Africa are given in 72 hours. Anybody who has dealt with Africa will laugh at you if you tell them that.

They definitely have a different system than ours. How do they do that? I do not know. We suspect that after three weeks of changing documents back and forth, they can say now we have everything. Let us start the clock.

[Translation]

To date, there are no winners; it depends on the statistics you use.

Senator Dawson: I am done.

Mr. Bradet: Standards are a bit unrealistic.

Senator Corbin: Welcome, Mr. Bradet; you obviously do not represent an NGO. How do you define yourselves and how long have you been in existence?

Mr. Bradet: We were founded in the wake of Kananaskis. It is not a government organization, but a private one that lives off two things: first, its members, membership fees from colleges, universities and other organizations, second, from activities, studies and research.

This year, we held a conference on education. This fall we will be holding one on natural resources. One will be held in East Africa in the fall, and another in Angola a little later.

We are a non-governmental organization.

But not the way people usually think. When you say...

[English]

When you say NGO in Canada, you think social. But we are non-governmental; that is for sure.

[Translation]

Senator Corbin: Which of the following terms do you choose? Are you a think tank or a lobby group, or both?

Mr. Bradet: I believe that, to serve Africa well, because we state it clearly and openly, we are the biggest lobby for Africa in Canada. We believe that Africa needs a lobby in Canada. Our friends are African ambassadors, the African countries that consult us every day. I speak with them every day. We are very proud to work for Africa in this area. I believe we are also a think tank.

Senator Corbin: Because you organize conferences?

Mr. Bradet: That is correct. During the education conference, seven African ministers came to Canada to discuss education problems. Why are we involved in education? Because it is an extremely important economic driver. That is why we work in this field as well, just as we work with Care Canada and other organizations that are considered NGOs.

Last week, I met with the President of Concordia University. He told me they had to belong to our organization. I asked him why. He told me they had students from 160 countries around the world who came here and that they needed someone to work for Africa. There is a void in Canada. If we did not exist, there would not be any organizations working for Africa in Canada, except for the ambassadors who find it hard to see public servants and even less so politicians.

Senator Corbin: You mentioned universities. There are universities in New Brunswick, including the University of Moncton, that would like to recruit more Africans. Do you intervene in that kind of issue?

Mr. Bradet: We work with them. The student recruitment issue is important, but we believe the field is highly specialized and we leave that role to the universities. On the other hand, we work on issues with the Government of Québec. For example, the government tells the Cégep de Sainte-Hyacinthe that, if they want to have an African student from Mauritania, they have to give it back the $10,000 they received for a student in Sainte-Hyacinthe. The Sainte-Hyacinthe authorities say that is not right. That is why we meet with the education ministers from Quebec, like Minister Bachand, to try to change the regulations so that we can help our education institutions add students. By the way, the University of Moncton has been a member of the board for a year now.

Senator Corbin: What is the nature of your formal relations with CIDA? What is the quality of those relations?

Mr. Bradet: We definitely have regular contact with CIDA. I work with them.

Senator Corbin: Do you have working meetings?

Mr. Bradet: Constantly. Not a week goes by that we do not have contact with CIDA. We do things together. We obviously worked with them on the Montreal conference. In the first two years of our existence, they helped us with our website, by providing us with administrative and other kinds of support. We thank them very much.

I do not mean by what I have told you today that we do not have good relations with CIDA. We work on a peer-to-peer basis, but we can have some disputes over political issues.

We work with them because that is an essential part of our presence in Africa. We cannot deny that Canada plays an important role. We would like that role to be bigger, more close to home, slightly different. That does not prevent the fact that CIDA's support is enormous.

Senator Corbin: Does CIDA deliberately turn to you as a consultant on complex issues?

Mr. Bradet: Not as a consultant in the sense of making money, but they consult us. We talk to each other regularly. For example, on Friday, I was invited to a session with CIDA to be with the President of the African Bank. If something happens, they will talk to me about it. We are a bit proud of that because that means that, in two, two and a half years, we have developed credibility with the departments and agencies in Ottawa, as a result of which we are consulted regularly.

We have developed a close relationship with the African countries because they know we can play that role. In other words, we help the African countries get messages across that they themselves may not be able to send the Canadian government, and we help the Canadian government by bridging the gap in certain cases — not always, but we help.

Senator Corbin: All the questions I have asked you lead me to the most important one. Our researchers have summarized one of the recommendations from your report, and I will read it word for word:

The Canadian Council on Africa should lead in the establishment of a private sector advisory group to help the federal government develop and implement its Africa policy.

So that means that, and I believe you said so in advance, you consider yourselves as the private sector experts on Africa in Canada. And you believe you have the necessary skills to play a very important role because the eventual aim is to influence government policies.

Mr. Bradet: I would humbly say that the answer is yes.

Senator Corbin: In all modesty.

Mr. Bradet: In all modesty. I would say we have a unique situation as a result of the members we have. If I only had companies that were only out to make profits, you could be critical, but no. We have an full range of stakeholders around the table: the President of the UCC, the President of the CC. These are people who are deeply concerned about what they are doing in Africa.

I think we are spoiled because we have worked hard and separately from the experts in government, because there are a lot of them, we are pretty much in the forefront — unless there are others, but I do not know of any.

Senator Corbin: Have recent and present governments shown any interest in your proposal?

Mr. Bradet: I have had no signs, although the credibility we have with government stakeholders is increasing. The frequency of requests for relations, requests for opinions means that we are credible with government. I believe we are constantly enhancing our credibility.

An appearance like today's will definitely make a little noise because people will tell me that I am criticizing the government, but you have to enter political and semi-political forums, such as your committee today, to express certain opinions. That is what we are doing today, and we hope that will not hurt us. But you have to be frank: these are public publications and you have to say these things.

Senator Corbin: I have one final question and, once again, I note what I believe is a quotation from your report.

There is limited monitoring of funds transferred to foreign partners and multilateral organizations.

Could you elaborate, please?

Mr. Bradet: Let's say that the way our members perceive these situations is that we are not always sure that the monitoring we have in Canada, with regard to the expenditure and use of public funds, is as rigorous or has the same relevance as we would have as Canadians with regard to the amounts that are spent elsewhere. I am not saying there is not any accountability; there definitely is. However, sometimes people ask us whether these funds are spent in the same way as they would be in Canada. We add at that point that, if the biggest problem of some African country — I am not saying all African countries — is governance, that troubles us a bit more.

This is an issue of governance, not responsibility and efficiency. I was recently at an international forum where someone said that ensuring that the funds are actually effective is a concern for a number of donor countries.

[English]

Perhaps my colleagues can add to that. This is a concern that we have. To ask us to prove that is difficult.

[Translation]

We are too small. I do not have the funds to prove that. We do not have the human resources to do audits.

[English]

Mr. Maisonneuve: Let me give an example. I do not have any evidence of corruption. I would be more comfortable putting forward the notion that ties into Senator Di Nino's comment about aid versus trade and effectiveness.

I just got back from a function in Cairo that was sponsored in part by the African Development Bank. As everyone here knows, the African Development Bank is a key part of our Canadian strategy in Africa. I have been involved directly or indirectly with the bank for some years now. While at the function, I watched the implementation of a strategy that my firm developed in 2003. The effectiveness in terms of their implementation is to put together an annual symposium inviting various African government representatives to talk about SME development relating to franchising and developing franchise sectors indigenous to various countries.

The problem is that flying in government officials to have a 30,000-foot discussion at a macro level of franchising, which is a micro application, an SME strategy, in my view, and in their view has been challenging. The African Development Bank frankly told me it has been challenging for them to yield any concrete results. That is the problem. When you talk to them about it, they say that they do not have the funding, and yet you talk to CIDA and they put forward a lot of money to the African Development Bank. The Executive Director, Francois Arsenault told me himself that they do not want CIDA to get involved in operations. They would rather get involved in strategy. I respect that, but the trickle down effect in terms of grassroots on the ground working with local indigenous entrepreneurs is not happening. For three years, that is all they have been doing — once a year, a 30,000-foot macro. Everyone feels good about it. They leave and nothing happens until the next year. That is an issue in terms of effectiveness and the aid, and I am watching this. I am there on a pro bono basis just watching and observing. No one is paying me. It is frustrating to see that.

In terms of trade and this notion of tied aid, in my view, as a private sector participant, it is not about aid. Private sector investors really could care less about aid. What we are looking for is trade. I will give another example. Nigerian, Egyptian and Moroccan companies want to work with me. They are looking for funding, and they are not getting funding from their local banks. We cannot go to CIDA because as soon as they hear that it is a Canadian consulting firm or Canadian business they bend over backwards, talk about choirboys, to keep a distance. They are so afraid of being in any kind of conflict of interest that I have to go through IFC. I get the Nigerian to apply to IFC in Washington, or to the local office in Africa, so I can work, because I will not get any support from the Canadian government or CIDA in particular. That is unfortunate.

I feel that we could do a far more effective job at championing ourselves. We have a role to play in Africa and yet, I have to bend over backwards for support. The Africans want to work with us. They could go to any country in the world, but they want to work with us, and they cannot. We cannot get support from our own government. I find that unfortunate. We can do a better job of that.

Senator Downe: On the same topic, what role if any does Export Development Corporation play in our endeavours?

Mr. Maisonneuve: In my testimony in April of 2005, I had the honour of sitting with EDC and providing testimony to this committee. Interestingly enough, the original work we did with the African Development Bank was sponsored by EDC in terms of a performance guarantee that we have to put up to the African Development Bank. At that point, the actual study we did was 80 per cent funded by the CIDA trust fund. There was very little risk. Since then, none of the projects we worked on have been sponsored by or supported in any way by EDC, citing high risk. I have a high degree of respect for EDC, but I feel they could be more tolerant of risk in terms of working with private sector businesses in Africa.

Senator Andreychuk: I agree with many of the points that you have been making, and you certainly made them forcefully. I am confused when you start separating aid and trade. If we talk about EDC, I understand. We could take a whole new philosophy on Canada Corps and a different philosophy on EDC, and we should.

When you talk about doing trade in Africa, inevitably you go back to some development bank or to CIDA and we are back into the aid package. That is not how we approach other parts of the world. I am wondering why we should make that distinction in Africa if we are going to talk about trade.

Mr. Bradet: We look at the competition, we look at other countries and the way that they outline their strategies. We see that they put aid and trade much closer than we do in Canada. For example, the Netherlands or France has a development fund. That development fund is, in the Netherlands, about $400 million, which is a big fund. The Netherlands' helps enterprises to invest and develop projects in Africa. It is a very low-level interest rate, 3 per cent or 4 per cent. This is almost aid, but it will be very important for those companies and those organizations to do trade. If you scratch a level below, you will find that it is an instrument used by the trade side and the aid side in that country. The difference between them is very small.

When I talk about opportunities, if in Senegal we make a transfer of $80 million to the government of Senegal, let us say 60 per cent of that will go to education. If you open the information gate, and we know what will happen with that money, then some company will say let us compete for that contract with France and everyone else. The result of that is aid, but also trade. You increase the trade, but aid is important because it is a tool that will increase that trade.

I will always remember Gilles Breton from Laval who is now associate director of University of Ottawa International Affairs. When Mr. Breton lost his agent for CIDA, I asked him if he was going to replace him, he said that he would replace him with a business development officer. CIDA is a small part, but this is the key to the door. It helps us to develop all kinds of businesses. There is an intimate link between aid and trade.

Nine out of 10 ambassadors in Ottawa will say we need more trade because trade is economic development — more export, more import, more investment. As Africa develops, trade and investment should become more important. If we start at the level of aid, we will never get out of the vicious circle of aid and aid and aid. That is a long answer, but it is intimately linked.

Senator Andreychuk: Are you saying that this debate about tied and untied aid is probably not what we should be discussing?

Mr. Bradet: You will not find a reference in our document to anything other than untied aid. I understand that some of my colleagues in Ottawa say CCAfrica just wants to go back to the tied aid. They can repeat it until tomorrow morning, but that will not change the fact that we are not after tied aid. I am saying that very clearly to the committee because we have been accused of that. Our presentation is not about tied aid. It is about equal opportunity. We have heard that expression in Canada before. Some party mentioned equal opportunity in Ontario and Canada. That is all we want.

Senator Andreychuk: You are underscoring that one of our difficulties is that not everyone in Africa is playing by the same rules and that the rhetoric and actions are different. I say this as a former ambassador in Africa when they said we made the rules in OSCD and surprisingly, Canadians lived by them.

Mr. Bradet: If you go to Senegal and meet a bunch of people in the private sector, nine times out of 10, they will have a white face of some kind, and nine times out of 10, the person is French. They are there with technical assistance from France and the chamber of commerce. What do you think that person will do the day after, when he makes his proposal to the Africans? Paris will know it before us, and Paris will act accordingly.

When I said that was the case to a friend in one department here, he said that is too bad, that is the way the French do it. I say meanwhile, I am losing the battle. Help me. Give me support of some kind. We do not want cheques. We want to be able to do our jobs.

Senator Andreychuk: I have heard over the last number of years that CIDA is reacting to what they believe is an expectation in the community; whether it is the organized community or the politicians, that our aid is failing so they are asking for accountability. They seem to be moving away from the NGO base, they seem to be moving away from experimentation into larger institutions delivering the aid because of accountability, they say. Your argument is that Africa needs more Canadians involved, they have the expertise, they will become engaged, they will be better partners and they will be better able to trade, invest, and do all kinds of other things.

Where is CIDA coming from when they believe that they are under the gun for accountability when they are risking out in the community with NGOs? How do you counter that?

Mr. Bradet: It is very difficult for me to answer for CIDA. I am sure they have their views on that. I do not know if we can do better than others, but I know one thing: Canadians can do a very good job. For those who have been in Africa, our reputation is excellent. Any companies, consultants or universities that do jobs in Africa are wanted again; there is no question. I do not want to speak for CIDA. They have views, they have a philosophy, and I think it should be asked of them.

Senator Andreychuk: Perhaps I could put it a different way. How do you counter, then, that we would be better off redirecting our aid and our efforts from CIDA into our southern partners directly and not working through any initiatives in Canada?

If we fund southern-based NGOs, indigenous NGOs and nurture small entrepreneurs in Africa, will Africa eventually become a better trade partner for us?

Mr. Maisonneuve: Senator, if I could use a classic private-sector paradigm, I would suggest that for your consideration that it may be of merit to consider risk diversification; perhaps a combination of both. I believe very strongly, and I have recommended in my own strategy document to the ADB, that working with indigenous, successful businesses is key to long-term sustainable economic growth in Africa.

Having said that, my own direct experience — I got off a plane yesterday from Cairo — is that there is a role to be played for Canadian expertise on the ground to see, touch, feel, talk to the local business people and make sure there is a connection between the two. To put all of our eggs in one basket, I would suggest, begs failure. Therefore, I suggest risk diversification, a combination of both; play the odds.

Mr. Bradet: We are proud of our Canadian values. If you look at the documents from the government agencies, you see that Canadians want to transfer our good democratic values, business values and so on. However, the way it is going, how are we to transfer our values because our participation is diminishing. Maybe the French can do a better job than us, but I do not like it. I prefer Canadians to do it.

Senator Downe: One of the problems this committee is having is determining exactly what is being done in Africa and a dollar figure for aid and debt relief. We have been advised that we have written off a large amount of debt for a number of African countries. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was here May 16, as you know, and we received some written response to questions that were raised at that time. The minister also promised to get back to us.

One of the questions was whether we are getting debt repayments from any African countries, and if so, in what amount. I just want to put it on the record for the committee that the answer from the minister was

Export Development Canada holds some strictly commercial loans with a few African countries with significant commodity based revenues. Due to commercial sensitivities, the exact amounts and countries involved cannot be disclosed.

That is not very transparent, not very open and, quite frankly, not acceptable for the committee. The minister should be able to tell us the amounts. We do not have to know the countries. I think that would be helpful for our study and our report.

The second part of the same answer that the minister talked about is one of my ongoing concerns. We have heard from a number of ministers that the first priority is Africa. We find out from this answer that Canada has worked to bring debt relief to many countries. Since 2000, Canada has forgiven $2 billion in bilateral debt from EDC, Canadian Wheat Board and CIDA, owed to it by developing countries, including some $700 million owed by African countries. Of the total debt forgiveness, only 35 per cent has gone to African countries. We should get that clarified. If that is correct, it is obviously not a priority. It is down the pecking order.

I just wanted to get those comments on the record. We need additional information and we need clarification.

The Chairman: Thank you for both those points and I will write to the minister on behalf of the committee in order to seek further clarification.

Senator Smith: Mine is a philosophical question. I invite your views on the ongoing debate as to whether aid should be increasingly targeted as opposed to spread widely. Does aid make a difference in powerhouses like China and India? In the subcontinent, it might be targeted in, say, Bangladesh, which seems to be the favourite at the moment. I have some sympathy for that type of aid.

Africa has well over 50 countries and just because it is untied does not mean it cannot be strategic where there is potential for developing ongoing, meaningful trade relations. How do you react to the reality of the embracing of that philosophy to the extent that you want to identify the more logical philosophies? I know there was some reference to this, but I would like your views.

Mr. Bradet: It is true, for Canada, you can divide Africa in two parts. You can have on one side of the house 14 countries that are considered development partners. Within the next five years, over 60 per cent of Canadian aid in Africa will be in those developing countries.

We need to work closely with those countries because that is where $1.8 billion of Canadian dollars will be spent by 2009. It is also those 14 countries that will receive most of the $60 billion of other donors, because they are the poorest. We see opportunities in those countries.

On the other side of the ledger, you have all the other countries that are moving more rapidly outside of the poverty level, and where there are many opportunities that we have to seize. Unfortunately, some people in Ottawa have said we should stick with the 14 on trade also. That is a mistake, because the others outside the 14 are places like Angola, Nigeria and RDC, where the economy is going to be big. The head of International Trade Canada should encourage activity in those countries. CIDA is active in the others, and we should be active in the countries that are not necessarily part of the CIDA agenda.

We do not have a single officer in Angola while every other G7 country is present. We have someone in RDC, yet the U.S. just doubled its resources in that country.

On the one hand, aid is an important thing for trade; and where we do not have much aid, trade is more important. Everyone in Ottawa has to pay attention. Either you are from CIDA or International Trade or Foreign Affairs and so forth.

I read the declaration of Minister MacKay before he came here and I saw the record. We do not disagree with his statements on Darfur. We support the action of the government, but at the same time, we think the economic development is not high on the government's agenda and we feel that Africa will benefit from Canada's knowledge.

Someone was asking, what do we transfer there? We transfer knowledge. That is our specialty. We are not going to transfer boats and cement and things like that. Europe can transfer merchandise because it is very close. Our strength is knowledge. The beauty about knowledge is once it goes there it stays there. I cannot take it back in my luggage. That is the beauty of the Canadian contribution.

Senator St. Germain: Mr. Bradet, you spoke earlier on about focusing on regions as opposed to countries. Can you explain how that would be done? You deal with the entity — how do you deal with the region?

Mr. Bradet: There are two trends. There are countries that are solid on their own. I am thinking, for example, of Nigeria and South Africa.

The Chairman: In terms of the ease of doing business, or where the returns are likely to be more compelling for Canada and for the country, what would be the four or five you might list at the top, offhand?

Mr. Maisonneuve: South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana.

Mr. Gascon: Angola, Madagascar, Algeria, Libya.

Mr. Bradet: Interestingly enough, when I asked that question of our members, every country in Africa is covered by our members. In the last 20 years, they have worked in 50 countries out of 53, but they are regional blocks.

The Chairman: Senator St. Germain, are you happy with the clarification?

Senator St. Germain: Not totally.

Mr. Bradet: I have not answered the question of the regions. These four or five major blocks are trying very hard now to develop economic instruments that will help. They are working hard to have common customs approaches, monetary policies and regional banks, like PTA. We have to work with those institutions. The businesses have to work with those institutions but the countries are the ones giving the orders. We have to play with both. It is not easy to manage the economies of 53 countries.

Mr. Maisonneuve: Let me give you a concrete example from a private sector perspective. In terms of our own observations and work, there are natural regions, historically and culturally, that fall together. For instance, South Africa will refer to itself as southern Africa because its businesses will very comfortably expand throughout Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, et cetera. It is very close and easy; there are no barriers at all. South Africans are comfortable moving throughout the southern region.

Egypt acts as a strategic platform — and I am tying into Michael Porter's work on clusters. They are very comfortable, being Muslim and Arab-speaking, to expand across MENA — the Middle East and North Africa, Saharan Africa. Culturally and historically, there are strong ties in that area.

The Francophonie in West Africa uses the civil code; the business culture is the same, so it is very comfortable for Cote d'Ivoire or Togo to expand within sub-Saharan, African-speaking countries. There are natural similarities in these regions.

Businessmen tend to think of not only their own country, which may be only three or five million, the size of Toronto, they will think of the outlying areas because it is easy to move next door.

Senator St. Germain: Are you saying that the key to whatever aid should be focused on these regions?

Mr. Gascon: No. If I could add one comment that might bring some light to the comments of my colleagues, there are natural regions in Africa. Once you approach Africa as a market, you are talking about 53 countries, which is the highest number of countries in any continent. Therefore, sometimes you need to have a regional approach in terms of trade.

For large infrastructure projects, we see a growth in regionalism. For example, the World Bank will not sponsor a project in one specific country but will sponsor the project if it is for the benefit of three or four countries. We see it in power, in infrastructure, in roads and in trade as well. What the comments of my colleagues refer to is that we have to keep in mind that regionalism is growing in Africa and we need to set up a strategy accordingly.

Senator Smith: I know I have oversimplified and some of these are terrible questions, but assuming that the size of the pie is relatively constant, what we are really talking about is how many pieces. Is 14 the right amount; is it on the high side, the low side? If you put all the decision makers in a room and said the size of the pie is the same, but get it down to six, I am sure primal screams would occur. Is it about right? Or, if you were moving in a direction, which direction would you move?

Mr. Maisonneuve: Personally, I do not think it is a question of narrowing it to six countries per se. I think it is really a question of understanding the notion of leverage. When you are looking at certain strategic platforms, whether it is Kenya or whatever, you are looking at enabling environments and business opportunities. The nature of business is that we want to expand and therefore, if we are developing a business cluster in Nigeria, it will naturally expand throughout west Africa.

Then, to use the South African example, they have successfully expanded throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They started in southern Africa and they have now moved throughout — as has Egypt. I am involved in discussions and negotiations with the Egyptians now. They are not interested in discussing just Egypt. They are interested in discussing Arab Africa in terms of expansion because it is an obvious growth plan for them.

This is perspective. It is a question of leverage, identifying the opportunities, supporting those opportunities with a view of leveraging and growth throughout a given region — and throughout the continent over time.

Mr. Bradet: If we had a cohesive policy, Canada would cover Africa well, but from a different perspective. About 14 of those countries would mainly involve aid; with 10 of those countries, we will be very strong with EDC, credit notes, and things like that. For other countries, it will be more investment in resources and trade, and so forth. It is a continent that is growing from every one of its parts. That is what we are talking about.

When Prime Minister Harper named the new cabinet, he said something that intrigued us a lot. However, we have not seen the result. We hope it will come. He said that he wants to have a cohesive approach between Foreign Affairs, international trade and CIDA. I watch the Ottawa scene. I have been in the civil service for many years. I am out now, but I have not yet seen the definition of that expression and the implementation of that expression. If it is achieved, especially when you have EDC under one of those ministers, CCC and all of that cohesion and coherence will happen.

I plead with this committee to make sure that you give ideas to the government on how to achieve that. It is very difficult. It scared many people in Ottawa because they do not know what power they will lose for the cohesion, but it is very important for us. We need to have one language and one policy, and we do not have it.

Senator Jaffer: You talked many times about risk. By "risk" do you mean business risk plus other risks? How would you define "risk"?

Mr. Maisonneuve: Forgive me if I speak for EDC, but my understanding of their thinking process is that they look at it in terms of credit risk rather than business risk, which of course, is an important distinction. As they have told me many times, they need to be self-sustaining. That is their mandate. Therefore, they need to look at the ability to be paid, whether it is a government or otherwise.

Senator Jaffer: I was very much intrigued by your aid and regions. Tanzania and Ethiopia get core aid. Are you talking about, for example, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania getting the aid rather than poor countries?

Mr. Bradet: No, we have not given a recommendation to that effect. I have chosen 14 countries. If you were to ask other people, maybe they would say we need more. Our view is that the countries are at different levels and they have different needs. Mozambique does not have the needs of Angola and South Africa. It is all in the same region, but they are different needs and we need different instruments if Canada wants to play a role.

Senator Jaffer: I read the recommendations in your book. You talked about Africa being recognized as an important Canadian foreign policy challenge. Do you think we have started to do that?

Mr. Bradet: No.

Senator Jaffer: Can you tell me why?

Mr. Bradet: One of our premises is that we believe that Canadian society is part of the Canadian image outside Canada, and I think that we should all play a role. It cannot only be a politician or a civil servant. If there is someone playing a role in Congo, we think we should play a role, too. We would like very much to have a policy on Africa that says, "From now on, when we have initiatives in Africa, what is the cabinet document saying about the Canadian participation in terms of the society? Will they play a role or not?" If the answer is no, cabinet should refuse it. In other words, we must find ways of involving Canadians.

The Chairman: May I interrupt? I want to understand what you are saying. If a cabinet document proposing a significant military and humanitarian intervention in Darfur, you would want to clause to find out what our business interests are in that proposition. Is that what you are suggesting?

Mr. Bradet: In certain cases like Darfur, I do not think business would play a big role. I think it would be a safety and security issue. At the same time, if it is to provide services, if it is to buy equipment and so on, and if a company can do the logistic part of it and it is part of the cabinet decision, we should have some provision in there to ensure that there would be equal opportunity to compete at the end. Is that common sense?

Mr. Maisonneuve: I wish to add a comment to that. I will refer to some work that I was doing in Saudi last year. One of the things that my Saudi hosts shared with me is that they have a 25 per cent unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia. The concern of my hosts was the issue of unemployment and poverty in Saudi. Saudi, which is a major oil-producing country yet has a 25 per cent unemployment rate, was looking at franchising tailor shops and hair cutting salons just to get natural Saudis enfranchised and back to work. The issue of Darfur is an example. Clearly, there is a humanitarian role for Canada to play as there is in Afghanistan, but part of peace, good governance, and so forth, is to get people employed, to start creating micro-businesses, and so on. Clearly, I think there is a role for us to play in that. Is it at that moment of crisis? Clearly, it is not. There is a role for the Canadian private sector to play in the creating of good governance and of changing from the informal sector to the formal sector.

Isa Odidi, President and CEO, IntelliPharmaCeutics, and Director, CCAfrica: I wanted to answer the senator's questions, which I thought were an attempt to address the issue of why the Canadian government does not have a coherent foreign policy. I think perhaps the government is not looking at the upside that this brings to Canadians. We are talking about aid to Africa and doing business in Africa to try to galvanize the African economy.

On the other side, from my point of view, with my company, trying to build industries in Africa makes me employ more people in Canada. Profits come to me in Canada and I pay taxes on those profits. There is a positive side to Canada engaging in emerging African markets. We do a lot of business with the Americans, but when you look at inflation and rising interest rates, we have to think if the time will come when they will not do business with us. I think Canada should be looking at newer markets and Africa is one of those emerging markets.

Senator Di Nino: On the question that you raised, Mr. Maisonneuve and Mr. Bradet, I want to make sure I understand. If we decide to contribute some development money for some new infrastructure — if Senator Mahovlich was here he would say we have to build roads —, it is in those areas that you believe that we should encourage the business aspect. Is that correct?

Mr. Bradet: I am sure that he would want to say something, but we have tried to convince CIDA and they have said no on that up to now.

Senator Di Nino: I am not really concerned about CIDA and its comment. I am referring to your statement that there should be some tied aid.

Mr. Bradet: That should be when we want to do a good visibility study on a water project in Congo, or whatever. This is very important. This will be the key.

When feasibility is completed, it will not necessarily be Canadian. I do not know if I should mention this, but there is a Quebec company called SNC-Lavalin that is training people for major investment in aluminium in Africa. CIDA has been helping with this project, and that is very important. This is training people to gain skills.

Is it an infrastructure project? No. Is it important for Canada to be doing major infrastructure? No, it is not important all the time because it is very expensive. However, to start the project and to complete it, that is what we want.

With regard to the question of tied aid, I reject that again. If we get into that, it will quickly become a slippery slope. If you start there, where will you stop?

The Chairman: Implicit in your testimony has been a wide ranging criticism of CIDA.

Mr. Bradet: Not necessarily.

The Chairman: It would be difficult to go through your testimony and conclude that you are delighted with everything they are doing.

Mr. Bradet: We work closely with CIDA. There are some policies with which we do not agree.

The Chairman: I am trying to suggest that you cannot suck and blow at the same time on this issue.

If you had god-like powers to change one thing about CIDA that in your view would maximize positive Canadian impact in terms of investment and economic growth in Africa, what would that one thing be?

Mr. Bradet: In the context of untied aid, the Canadian government tried to put a policy in place where CIDA programs call more on an open bidding system. If people want to compete and have the resources, they compete. When I say compete, I am not only talking about Canadians. If anybody in the world wants to compete, we have no problem with that. The current system is not friendly to open bids.

The Chairman: If CIDA provides financial assistance as part of an aid or development program, you would want one of its operating criteria — whether a receiving company, government or agency abroad — to be that there would be open competition for the work that emerges?

Mr. Bradet: First, it would be useful to have the knowledge, and second, we would like to see it open for bidding. That is what we would like to see happen.

The Chairman: Colleagues, thank you very much. I want to thank the Canada Council on Africa for an outstanding performance.

Senator Downe: I have been advised that the Foreign Affairs website does not have any testimony since you have become chair of this committee. People who are trying to follow our deliberations cannot get any information because the website has not been updated. As chair of the committee, I bring that to your attention.

The Chairman: I appreciate that. I believe websites and computers are the end of civilization as we know it. I will have someone look into the matter and report back.

Senator Downe: I think it is important that the people who are interested in this committee and follow it on CPAC also have the opportunity to follow it on the website. The Senate itself has their transcript and debates on their website the day after.

The Chairman: Thank you.

The committee adjourned.