Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials Discussing Commission for Africa Report
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa on Friday released a 460-page report that calls for a doubling of international aid to Africa to $50 billion annually, the removal of trade barriers, debt forgiveness, and increased efforts to address poor governance, corruption and war throughout the continent. The report also calls for funding for HIV/AIDS to be increased to $10 billion annually within the next five years. Blair in February 2004 established the 17-member commission, which has nine African members. The commission, which examined challenges facing the continent and ways to resolve those issues, includes politicians, economists and advocates from Africa and developed nations. The report aims to put Africa in the forefront of the international agenda during the United Kingdom's year as chair of the G8 and during its presidency of the European Union (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/14). Several newspapers recently have published opinion pieces on the commission's report, two of which are summarized below.
Business Day: The commission's report is a "powerful document with strong messages for Africa and the world," but "outpourings of cynicism have already begun" in response to the report, according to an editorial in South Africa's Business Day. Although it will require "considerable political will, both on the continent and in the West," to accomplish the goals outlined in the report, it acts as "a source of undisguised pressure" to elicit "political momentum," the editorial says. Wealthy nations and international donors "have to make sacrifices" in order to advance African development, the editorial says, concluding that African leaders also must "improv[e] accountability" and develop a "greater tolerance for criticism" in order to get "serious about the big push" (Business Day, 3/14).
Guardian: The "agenda" needed to "propel Africa into a virtuous circle of improvement" -- including "eradicating disease" -- is "formidable," an editorial in London's Guardian says. Although the proposed measures could cost developed nations about $25 billion annually, "that is little compared with the good that could come from giving a helping hand to a forgotten continent," the editorial concludes (Guardian, 3/12).
Newark Star-Ledger: The commission's report is "heavy with commendable ideals and many sound suggestions for relieving a beleaguered continent's unrelenting misery," but its recommendations might not translate into action, according to a Star-Ledger editorial. Although developed nations should "assume" some of the "burdens" described in the report -- including increased aid for health initiatives, such as HIV/AIDS treatment -- "Africa will never flourish until its countries and people fight for the accountable governments they deserve," the editorial concludes (Newark Star-Ledger, 3/14).