Saturday, December 24, 2005

African aid: was it worth it?


...As well as a commitment to double aid to $50bn (£29bn), and extend the principle of debt relief, other parts of the deal could end up as even more valuable to Africa, most notably the commitment to universal free access to treatment for HIV/Aids, and measures to allow African countries to own their own economic strategies, rather than having them imposed from Washington.

And since then policy commitments in Europe mean that the aid increases promised will happen, although this has not been matched in a deliverable way in America.

President Bush's so-called "Millennium Challenge Account" has far too many conditions attached to it to make it accessible by the poorest countries....

Improving trade for Africa would be the one thing which could make all the difference.

Protesters from Global Call to Action Against Poverty in Washington. File photo
Campaigners are calling for debts to be cancelled immediately

This is not just a north-south issue.

One of the key recommendations of the Africa Commission report was to lower barriers, and improve infrastructure for trade within Africa....

The spokesman for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Kumi Naidoo, said: "We have always understood that this is going to be a marathon not a sprint."

The focus now is on compliance and delivery on promises made by the rich world, while ensuring that poor countries live up to their side of the bargain.

"We cannot accept any excuses for failure to move on gender equality, failure to improve governance, failure to eradicate corruption and so on. We will have a dual approach going forward," Mr Naidoo said.

"And there is momentum now for holding governments accountable. With developing country governments we will have to hold them accountable for things that are within their domain of control, and for rich country governments, for commitments, half-hearted they might have been in 2005, and to push them further.'

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