O’Neill, Bono Visit Ghana on Four-Nation African Tour to Assess Development, HIV/AIDS Initiatives
U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Irish rock star Bono yesterday began in Ghana their four-nation tour of Africa to assess development and HIV/AIDS initiatives, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The two will visit HIV/AIDS clinics, schools and various development projects sponsored by the World Bank and other agencies during their 10-day trip (Chonghaile, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/22). The pair also will visit South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia (Clarke, Reuters/Washington Times, 5/22).
A 'Strange Delegation'
The pairing of O'Neill and Bono represents "undoubtedly one of the strangest delegations ever to descend on Africa," the New York Times reports, adding, however, that the duo "is also one that illustrates an expanding ideological consensus on the need to address poverty, disease, famine and conflict in Africa." Bono, who has lobbied Congress for increased international HIV/AIDS funding and who "played a key role" in convincing President Bush to increase foreign aid by $5 billion a year, is looking at the trip, which he requested, as an "opportunity to convince the Bush administration that aid to Africa is both a moral imperative and a good investment of taxpayer money" (Stevenson, New York Times, 5/22). He has established his own group, DATA (Debt, Aid, Trade for Africa), to advocate for economic assistance, decreased export tariffs and funds to fight HIV/AIDS (Reuters/Washington Times, 5/22). O'Neill has criticized assistance programs to Africa in the past, calling them "disappointing," but said yesterday that the United States is "committed to helping and that he has an open mind about how to do so." He added that the U.S. government would only provide aid to countries that can prove they are improving the standard of living of their people. "We have to be hardheaded and demand results: That is our responsibility to the impoverished people of Africa," O'Neill said (New York Times, 5/22).