The conference brought together 44 African ministers of finance and of education from 28 African countries for a structured dialogue on sustaining Africa's economic and educational progress in the current context of a global economic slowdown. African countries have achieved laudable progress during the last decade towards the Education for All (EFA) goals for 2015 that were agreed in Dakar in 2000, particularly with regard to Universal Primary Education (UPE). This progress reflects the combined impact of several factors, notably courageous education reforms, substantially increased public financing of education made possible largely by sustained economic growth and increased political priority for education-and greater inflows of external aid for education. The momentum may be jeopardized, however, by the current worldwide economic downturn. Tightening domestic budgets and external aid could increase the difficulty of sustaining policy reform and strategic investments, thereby putting at risk the hard won gains of the last ten years. They could also undermine Africa's efforts to develop post basic education and training and delay achievement of key goals of the African Union's Second Decade for Education in Africa. The result would be to frustrate the aspirations of the increasing numbers of African youth who seek to go beyond primary education and to deny their prospective employers the skilled workforce that could help boost business competitiveness and economic growth. The emerging global economic circumstances provided a key rationale for the Conference. Its purpose was to stimulate dialogue among senior policy makers on policy options to achieve a mutually reinforcing relation between education and the economy.