G8 Nations Should Increase Aid to Africa To Meet 2010 Targets, Report Says
The Group of Eight industrialized nations should increase assistance to Africa in order to meet pledges to double aid to the continent by 2010, according to a report released on Monday in London by the Africa Progress Panel, the Washington Post reports. The report says that G8 progress toward meeting aid targets, which were set at annual summits in recent years, is a "mixed picture." Although wealthy nations have eliminated many debts owed by African countries, they have not done well on direct aid to the continent, according to the report. Unless major aid increases are made, most wealthy nations will be "well below" the collective target of $130 billion in aid by 2010, the report says. It adds, "We are in a situation where it is increasingly clear that traditional budgetary resources are too overstretched to meet aid pledges, unless innovative financing mechanisms are promptly put in place."
The report was released ahead of the G8 summit scheduled for July in Hokkaido, Japan. The Africa Progress Panel report "echoes criticism from President Bush, who has complained that other G8 countries have not fulfilled promises aimed at stemming AIDS and malaria," the Post reports. Bush during his weekly radio address on Saturday said, "To achieve this noble goal, all nations must keep their promises to deliver this urgent aid." White House officials have said that they expect Bush to make Africa a primary focus during the summit and that the U.S. is on target to double aid to Africa to $8.7 billion by 2010.
The Africa Progress Panel was created by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and includes former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, singer and advocate Bob Geldof, Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Annan in an interview praised Bush for his efforts for Africa but said that the U.S. should increase the percentage of its economy allocated to development assistance. Annan added that France and Japan should increase aid to Africa.
The report released on Monday is the first from the panel and focuses on increasing food prices, according to the Post. According to the report, food prices are threatening to reverse gains made in addressing HIV/AIDS, reducing poverty and boosting economic growth. "Unless some way can be found to halt and reverse the current trend in food prices, there will be a significant increase in hunger, malnutrition, and infant and child mortality," the report says. It adds, "Many countries are already experiencing the reversal of decades of economic progress, and 100 million people are being pushed back into absolute poverty."
The report makes a variety of recommendations, including increasing emergency assistance to the U.N. World Food Programme, eliminating food tariffs and pledging new investments to bolster agricultural productivity. According to Annan, the focus of the July G8 summit should be to fulfill commitments already made to Africa. Speaking about recent economic gains, Annan said, "All this could be rolled back by the food crisis, a lack of follow-through of promises made. ... What we really ask of the G8 is not to make new promises but to meet the promises that have already been made" (Abramowitz, Washington Post, 6/16).
The report is available online.