The promise of Africa

  • Tim Weber
  • 26 Jan 07, 07:14 PM

One year ago, Africa’s future was one of the biggest topics at the World Economic Forum. Bono launched his “Red” campaign, Tony Blair continued to push for debt relief for Africa, and trade talks focused on helping developing nations.

So today it was time to take stock, check whether “delivering on the promise of Africa” had actually happened.

On the panel:

  • Tony Blair, UK prime minister
  • Bono, musician and anti-poverty campaigner
  • Hubert Burda, German media tycoon
  • Bill Gates, Microsoft boss and chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and Africa’s first female president
  • Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank
  • Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa
  • Kumi Naidoo, boss of the Civicus - World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Sadako Ogata, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Everybody agreed that progress had been made, but considering Africa’s problems, that doesn’t really say a lot.

With such a high-powered panel, though, it’s probably best to let its members speak for themselves:

Tony Blair
I hope the important momentum [to help Africa] is redoubled again for the G8 summit in Germany [in June this year].
If we can’t get this world trade round going, it will depress Africa… and failure of the trade talks would be catastrophic for Africa [Thabo Mbeki nods in agreement]

Donald Kaberuka
Debt relief has been of some help, but the key factor have been Africa’s own efforts… What Asia has done, Africa is capable of doing as well

Kumi Naidoo
If money can be raised at short notice for war, $300bn for Iraq… then if the will is there we must be able to raise money to abolish poverty as well.
Africa is probably the richest continent below the ground, but the poorest above ground. All we ask for is justice, a fair trade system.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
We need infrastructure, we need roads. The farmers don’t want money for education, they want roads so that they can trade and earn money, and then, they say, ‘we can pay tuition fees’.
In the case of Liberia: Get rid of debt and that will free us up to achieve our objectives.

Thabo Mbeki
Let’s not add new programmes and projects. But let’s remove the things that block implementation [of previously agreed projects]
Yes, we made progress, but [are we] satisfied? No! And that is because we have insufficient capacity to implement what we had agreed [a year ago]

Twenty million children have gone to school [last year] as a result of resources freed up from debt cancellation.
Corruption is Africa’s number one problem, above HIV Aids, Malaria and TB. Just ask your African friends.
But there is also corruption north of the equator. If [Africans] sell us orange juice instead of oranges, we slap a tariff on; if they sell chocolate instead of cocoa, we slap a tariff on. This is corruption.
At the [next] G8 summit in Germany we will know whether we made progress. If we failed, it is corruption of the worst order.

Hubert Burda
We the media are reporting the wrong kind of Africa: crisis, wars, famine. Don’t show Africa as a crisis, but show the beauty… tell the positive stories [from this continent]

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:24 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Efrem Girmay wrote:

Although, not significant few agricultural products from poorer African nations have started to be sold in larger quantities in European supermarkets.

However, the nations hand picked by Tony Blair's Africa commision member state has gone on committing major human rights, which caused major concern by the west in continuing relationship with these poor nations in their efforts to reduce poverty.

I feel the west has more or else are not very far from their agreed promisses, however they have failed most Africa in the quest for Democracy.

  • 2.
  • At 01:27 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Sergio Martins wrote:

year after years, meetings after meetings few things solved but the
reality is just the same like befor.
Africa is in need of realistic changes to be able to stand upon her own feet and to continue to support the needy anywhere else( raw materials must arrive on their distination and the owners of these lines of production must see the benefit of having a strong Africa, according to my particular vision that is possibel and no one will loose, and poverty can be reduzed.
Wise business.

Bono: This is the first time I've read tariffs explained by a rock star. I'm baffled by the analogy. Don't get me wrong I like what Bono is doing. His charitable work is great.

I mean export/import tariffs are common. Where's corruption in that? Unless they get out of the country illegally or perhaps maybe I'm dumb in believing that UK doesn't impose import/export tariffs. Or is Africa exempted? Not sure though. Any thoughts?

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: I hope China will read this and will be able to reach your country.

Hubert Burda: That's reality which can't be ignored. That there's war in some parts - we can't just sideline the lives lost in Sudan, women and children are raped; crises and famine. Zimbabwe at 1,200% inflation rate, the highest in the world. All these are realities. What we need is help, action and teaching people how to feed themselves.

To the others I say, very true indeed.

My thoughts.

I think countries such as Namibia that are doing fairly well should ask for fair trade, especially of its uranium, diamond and copper instead of asking for a 'least developed country' status in order to qualify for aids. All that is needed from developed countries like the UK is to set up infrustructures in Africa and train the Africans to run and work there as they did in countries such as India.

  • 5.
  • At 04:14 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Richard Clare wrote:

Sadly, after the western countries struggled to write of many billions of pound of African debt, during 2006 China has burdened Africa with an estimated 12 billion dollars of new debt.

This new debt will drain Africa of the means to provide health care and education to its people, yet this new debt has been virtually ignored by the non-UK media.

  • 6.
  • At 05:10 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Toe wrote:

President Sirleaf has generally, accurately stated the case of most African countries - the lack of infrastructure. The need for roads is especially imperative for a war-ravaged country like Liberia where even streets in the capital are barely passable. How about providing this need as an assistance toward capacity building in this backward West African country?

  • 7.
  • At 06:38 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Lance Shim wrote:

Africa can pull itself out of poverty just like Asia did. In 1950 Korea and Ghana were about equal economically. Today, Korea produce more steel, cars, and ships than all of Africa combined - and with few natural resources. No need to reinvent to wheel, there are are plenty of successful examples. The west can only advise, real progress must come from good African leadership.

  • 8.
  • At 08:34 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Beaumont wrote:

The self interest of the worlds wealthiest nations continues to be the root cause of Africas problems. It was those self interests which saw nearly every African country colonised and then handed over to a local Minister,General,Dictator. Nearly all of these caused even greater misery than the former colonial system and nearly all of them stole fortunes from their own countries and peoples.

Open up the Swiss Banks where the stolen money was put and you'll find enough to buy every African family a new Mercedes and build a new house.

  • 9.
  • At 09:18 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Titus Ngeno wrote:

1) Effective aid
-Aid is most effective where government rule and the overall management of the economy are comparatively good. Aid becomes ineffective when it exceeds the absorptive capacity or local institutions.

2)In one end - and out the other

So while well-meaning foreigners try to jump start investment in Africa, African elites pull even more money out of the continent — and cripple attempts to develop the continent.

3)Terms of trade

African countries all import manufactured goods — and most also import oil. For the continent as a whole, terms of trade have, by and large, worked against Africa over the last two decades.

4)AIDS Impairs economy in Africa

No region has been hit harder than Africa by the AIDS pandemic. AIDS deaths are concentrated largely in the most productive age group, 25-50 year olds. In the most affected countries, this will quite obviously have devastating economic costs, which will compound the human suffering. How heavy the economic toll will be, nobody can predict.

6)Europe should build a NATO for Africa

Africa’s ongoing crisis — from the genocide in Darfur to civil conflicts in other countries — continues to defy easy solutions. EU should partner with the African Union to provide security and stability. Emulating what NATO Played during the the Cold War could get the job done for Africa.

  • 10.
  • At 02:34 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • uko wrote:

if the west is true to its words,they should make real the Doha Rounds.Let Africans have equal playing ground.

  • 11.
  • At 04:30 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Daniel Ochola wrote:

Africa's potential for development is enormous.What we need are instituitions of good governance and constructive cum development oriented politics. Besides, the donor community need to fully understand Africa's prevailing socio- economic, political and technological status. This will guide them to formulate, implement and monitor only those policies applicable to Africa's specfic cases. Unless this is done, Africa will continue to be the richest continent underground but poorest on the surface as the panelist Kumi Naidoo puts it.

  • 12.
  • At 04:59 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Mick Dennis wrote:

It is great to see world leaders at last recognising africa and actually talking about what to do to improve it's ability to eveliate poverty.
But with all the donated money and good will of donors the african people must actually change attitudes and get on with progress.
Too may countries are relying on donors to help them get going for so long now and still little progress is made.
Time to look at what Asia has done and get people motivated to develope their businesses and govenments to reduce corruption and concentrate on developing their countries and not their own personal wealth.

Africa needs investment capital:
I agree with Bono’s analysis of corruption. Africa’s problems go beyond that.The poverty trap in Africa is mostly because of poor governance and the improper application of developmental aids. Attempts to reduce poverty and disease in Africa will continue to have minor positive effects as long as the people cannot invest in small scale businesses, generate employment and get good education. What Africa needs is investment capital, so that it can, at least, produce for the local market. $400 billion dollars has been spent on the Iraqi war with no end in sight. 10% of that money ($40 billions) loaned to technicians and professionals at $100, 000 each, will create 4 million jobs and help 20 million people escape poverty in Africa. The current micro finance systems operated by African Development Bank and the World Bank, in Africa, are inappropriate and inaccessible.

Stop measuring African success by European standards.

Africa only has 'European' problems. Africa only realised it's problems when Europeans arrived.

Europe should stop having a guilt complex.

  • 15.
  • At 10:47 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Demiss wrote:

I appreciate the effort being made by the above individuals, but am tired of listening to a bunch of world leaderes and millionaires trying to solve the pains of Africa. Who is representing the african people? Is it Thabo Mbeki or Meles Zenawi? We need more of Kumi Naidoo. We need to involve more African prominent intellectuals and trustworthy individuals like that of Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, Ngugi wa Thiong'o of Kenya. Go and talk to the wise Karlheinz Boem of Germany who is on the ground fighting poverty bare-foot. I am sick of reading the equations of Jeffrey Sachs whose economic caricature is empowering african dicators only. We have enough literature and formulas on the subject, but lack down-to-earth solutions. For God's sake, reach the african elderly and urban poor. They are the ones that live with the pain all along. The state leades lose their steams soon after the forum is adjorned.

  • 16.
  • At 02:22 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • stan wrote:

The above comments have all noted valid concerns. But the main issue is culture. Most of Africa was stone age until 500 years ago. It's hard to make the giant leap to the 21st century. Asia was a few decades behind, Africa is thousands of years. Ask the indigenous people of South and North America. Their whole world view was destroyed, and they too struggle. So the people of Africa have to reinvent themselves for the 21st century in one big step. Not easy.

Breathing room could be obtained by population control. Since the first big push to develop Africa, its population has doubled. Poverty rates have remained the same, while total numbers in poverty have increased. This is the fallacy of aid without reform/reinvention. It just enlarges existing problems.

Africa will remain a basket case until Africans change.

  • 17.
  • At 07:15 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • Toluwaloju Jawando wrote:

I think what we are lacking in Africa is transparency and good governance,all the african leaders are very corrupt.People`s mindset needs to be changed in order to make Africa economy powerful.Many people are going into government to enrich thier pocket and to make their family financially stable without thinking about the future of majority.Until we have these Africa will always lack no matter what the G8 and other stabled economy continents do.

  • 18.
  • At 07:52 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • ako eyong wrote:

It is not a secret that Africa is the richest continent on earth, in terms of raw materials, but its people are the poorest. It is not a secret that most western economies would prefer to deal with Africa in this state since it allows them to impose extremely exploitative trade terms on the continent without an iota of opposition,thus allowing them to syphon huge quantities of raw materials at almost no cost.It is not a secret that these raw materials will be sold back to africans as processed goods for cut throat prices.It is not a secret that the relationship between most african leaders and thier western counterparts, is deeply steeped in corruption and blackmail, as most of them must champion western interest or face the music. does anyone ever wonder where all the arms that are used in wars come from?definitely not from Africa.this does not mean that africans are innocent. far from it.But the western goverments could do more in terms of putting pressure on african leaders to fight and stop corruption.A good way to start would be to expose the scandalous quantities of wealth that african statesmen have in western vaults(the U.S did this with the west african nation of equatorial guinea a few months ago.I hope they will continue with this anti corruption drive which is also taking root in Cameroon.

  • 19.
  • At 08:46 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • Jimma University Students From Ethiopia wrote:

Dear all,
The problem related to poverty reduction in africa can be summerized by standing with the following idea

Why we ask debt cancellation

ü The need for debt cancellation is because payment is an intolerable burden on African countries, and the supposed 'debt' itself is simply unfair. This includes:
ü Debts that a country can't afford to repay without meeting its people's basic needs.
ü Debts, which cannot be serviced without worsening a country’s people, are illegitimate. This is more often termed "immoral debt". As Julius Nyerere said, "Must we starve our children to pay our debts?”
ü Debts on loans that the lender knowingly gave to dictators or oppressive regimes
ü A debt on loans that the lender knew was going to be stolen through corruption.
ü Debts contracted and used for improperly designed projects and programs are illegitimate. There is heavy responsibility on creditors, particularly on the World Bank for its failed development projects
ü Debts in payment for projects that failed because of bad advice or incompetence by the lenders.
ü Debt on unfair terms, such as very high interest rates. So called “loans” given for projects “that” do not produce any asset (e.g. expenses for the control of AIDS, malaria and humanitarian actions) should not be paid with interest.
ü Debts contracted illegally, where proper processes weren't gone through.
ü Debt that swelled because of high interest rates and other conditions imposed by creditor governments and banks are illegitimate. Implies the original debt (the principal) has already been repaid many times over, so the continued existence of a debt burden is unfair!
Generally debts should be cancelled because they are unjust in terms of their origin, as well as because they worsening poverty. Africa's massive foreign debt burden can be taken as "a new form of slavery, as sadistic as the slave trade".

How Bad is the debt?

In most African countries the amount is greater than the total budget of the country. The total external debt of the very poorest countries was US$412billion at the end of 2005.This is not the original debt (the principal)! For example
The money spent paying back the debt and the interest on the debt expanded from an average of $1.7 billion from 1970-1979 to $14.6 billion from 1997-1999. Africa received a total of $540 billion in loans, paid back $550 billion, and still retained a debt of $295 billion between 1970 and 2002. In 2001, sub-Saharan Africa borrowed $11.4 billion, and paid back $14.5 billion.
Even while the G8 industrialized nations were promising debt relief in 2005, African countries had to surrender $23.4 billion in interest and principal payments. During 2005,these countries paid nearly $43billion to the rich world in debt service _that is $118 million a day.
We, Africans are paying more for debt servicing than we receive in development assistance, and in most cases this amount is greater than our budgets for health and education combined.

Where did the debt come from?

Much of the debt of poor countries is left over from the 1970s - and often arose through irresponsible or self-interested lending by the rich world. The total greater amount comes from the Group 8 (G-8) countries.
Can’t we pay? Hasn’t Africa paid any of it?
We can’t! Even we cannot pay for debt services, like interest rates. For most Africans the interest is more than the budgets for health and education combined.
But governments have been forced by creditors to slash their social spending and shrink their public sector, to pay off the interest and principal. Even so, the debt burden continues to grow, placing the poorest African countries in a kind of debt bondage.
The money is already paid in partial. (As to some reports it’s paid more that the original) Thanks to the high interest rate it always increases exponentially. Between 1970 and 2003, African countries received about $540 billion in loans and paid back $580 billion in debt service, yet the continent is still saddled with a crippling $330 billion in external debt.

Is Debt Relief Enough?

No! But it has great tangible impact. For the good of Africa a 100% off debt cancellation accompanied by huge international aid and fair inter governmental relations (trade) is essential. It’s too hard for African companies to compete with subsidized western farmers.
United States and the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) spend $1 billion a day in agriculture subsidies (mainly to large agribusinesses), allowing them to flood Africa with commodities at lower prices than African producers can match. This protects their own farmers and makes it practically impossible for African products to gain a foothold in Western markets. “Rich countries - mainly the European Union, the United States and Japan - spend around $350 billion a year on agricultural subsidies and protection That’s 16 times what the developed world currently gives in aid for Africa, the report said.” Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report Fair Inter Governmental Relations (Trade) Is Essential!

How much difference could debt relief make for poor countries?
If poor countries don't have to spend so much on debt payments, they can use the money instead for things, which help reduce poverty. Among the most common priorities are basic health-care and education and improving roads in rural areas - which is where poverty is often at its worst.

Why must the world act?

First and foremost, our common humanity binds us together. Africa is part of our world community and the world must show solidarity with the people of Africa
At the millennium summit, the took on a clear obligation to act, agreeing to specific headlines for reducing poverty
Many of the difficulties of Africa arise from a history of colonization and of cold war tensions; thus it is a historical responsibility to help Africa break through its historical legacy
The current debt crisis dates from the oil crisis of the 1970s,[the time by which the G8 has created] and often arose through reckless or self-interested lending by the rich world
A grant, not loan, should be provided for projects which do not produce any asset for the payment of the loan. (e.g. expenses for the control of AIDS, malaria and humanitarian actions
Had There Been Any Other Campaign Before?
An Encouraging Model: - A debt campaign called jubilee 2000,initiated by two individuals, inspired a petition signed by over 20 million people led to commitments by developed country governments to write off US$100 billion worth of debt.

Our strategy

Action is the key for every problem! Our plan is very precise:


we will collect petition all around Ethiopia and through out Africa in order to express our sorrow, and unwanted antagonism developing among us against the world. The signed petition will be sent to the G8 assembly, which will be held in Germany from June 6-8, 2007.It should be noted that the G8 are the main lenders of the African continent.


Five days before the starting of the assembly, i.e. FROM JUNE 1- 8, 2007, there will be a black ribbon dressing program. This is aimed at expressing how much we are proud of being black and we are truly united against poverty.


June 3 is scheduled to be the day on which all Africa will not eat its lunch.

The signed petition will be sent to the G8 assembly, which will be held in Germany from June 6-8, 2007, accompanied by a one week long sorrow days which is expressed by dressing black ribbon.
We will continue to build pressure on G-8 nations to cancel debt for all poor African countries.
We will promote the campaign through out Ethiopian higher institutions, public and private colleges. After the idea is intensified through out the country, we will take the initiative for the occurrence of national body that will widen the plan into continental and international level.


Our mission is a 100% debt relief for our continent. Our campaign is relatively easier to achieve only needs the will of the developed nations and, of course, a small action of ours and can produce a huge momentum for the accomplishment of the relief.100% debt cancellation for Africa means the unconditional cancellation of all the external debts of all African countries. Cancellation must be complete and irrevocable, it must include all African countries and creditors, and it must be free of conditions.

Message to All Africans!

Finding a lasting solution to Africa's external debt is a matter of justice and fairness. It is not a matter of charity. It is critical that Africa must be united on this vital issue and speak with one voice. Africa needs to be very violent on this issue, on all fronts. All African opinion makers must be involved in a well-orchestrated campaign. African musicians should be mobilized in many ways, as well as African media in order to relay more effectively the campaign to the African public whose support is critical in moving the campaign forward and in its success. The power of public pressure - and public scrutiny - is immense.
Together we can change! Together we can change! Together we can change! Together we can change!

  • 20.
  • At 11:05 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • Mutwiri wrote:

Africa's biggest problem is its own leaders, please don't blame the west. Blame game doesn't work. The leaders do not deliver even with the little funding they get. They need to restructure their policies in order to be able to clear debt. Forgiving debt is good, but will you forgive again in 20 years, and then again ? With the current policies favoring large economies, Leaders in African countries can still deliver then push for global trade reforms.
As Bob Marley said, "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, non but ourselves can free our minds".

  • 21.
  • At 11:59 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • Collins wrote:

I believe traficking of fire arms from the developed world to Africa is Africa's bigest problem. I believe countries like Somalia, Ugandan, Sudan etc..will never prosper even if all their foreign debts are cancelled and given the best international trade opportunities. Brain drain is another major enemy. Africa cannot develop when the west is eager to snatch away its best brains. Africans must learn to slove their own problems. We need to learn to love your continent.

  • 22.
  • At 12:11 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • jeremiah cole wrote:

All africans ,and people of african origin must invest in finding african answers for africas problems .WE must wait for no one.It will be long be long road,but we must start now. Stop looking for handouts...Beggers have no choices,we must first agree to have one national language.. Remember,before we compare ourselves with china ,if i am not wrong? china has a natiinal language....So africa should and must have a national spoken language to help unite all its people God bless africa and all mankind..jeremiah

  • 23.
  • At 12:18 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • O'chana wrote:

Well said Donald, Africa needs to stop wasting time crying for hepl year after year and start copyng what Asia has done in the past twenty years.

Stop the corruption and looting of billions of pounds by African's leaders into developed countries leaving the country poor despite vaste amount of wealth that the continent has.

Lets stop the blame game and start sorting out our own problems and let start by electing young people with fresh blood who are willing to go the distance in developing Africa.

  • 24.
  • At 06:14 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • dozy wrote:

I like Bono, but do not agree with his analogy on corruption. Let it be known that African countries have tariffs too. All Africa needs is fair trading system that would enable it to compete globally with some western industries that are well protected by their governments. Besides, Africa needs a paradigm shift from raw material based economy to a processing economy. A kilo of raw coffee in Ethiopia costs less day a dollar while a cup of coffee in the US is more than a dollar.

Corruption is our major obstacle, because poor infrastructural development cannot increase production capacity. Imagine Nigeria where government spent about $3billion dollars on roads, yet still has the worst road network in the region. There has to be a system which measures delivery of public services with government expenditure

  • 25.
  • At 08:53 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • sharon wrote:

The February 2007 issue of National Geographic told of much concerning Africa...the hope - planting Mangroves. When growing up, we were always told if we did not appreciate our food or even accidentally dropped it, we were told to think of the starving children in Africa and elsewhere in God's world. It sounds to me also, that yes, the world needs to abstain from bringing more children into a bad situation - men, please - give peace a chance and make this world a better place if you can, without taking more than you give. Constructive and positive actions with kind words can promote and produce peace...It's a proven and seen fact. Reality check...just a bit of your is within the power of one's self.

  • 26.
  • At 11:47 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • diaw wrote:

So,brothers and sisters,ours leaders are the biggest crooks in the world.
It is because of their crookedness that we have not made more progress, really they are criminals out of jail, white press they never and ever give good image to africa, they like to see,always africa in a negative life savages, cannibals thirs is nothing sivilages.

Merci// diaw baidy


  • 27.
  • At 12:04 AM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Gabriel Onyekuru wrote:

My father thought me as a kid that it's African culture to always express gratitude for any good done to me. So, to all those who have contributed to uplift the plight of Africans materially and otherwise, we say thanks and more grease to your elbow.
And to our leaders, we urge you to embrace change. Stop looting our common treasury.
I currently live in the United States, but the stories from my friends and relatives down home is nothing to write home about. Always, general insecurity, injustice, no electricity, fuel scarcity, umemployment, bad roads, no salaries, diseases, etc. Meanwhile, politicians have more than enough to spend.
Do we honestly feel that non-Africans alone are going to deliver us?

  • 28.
  • At 06:19 AM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Tinenenji wrote:

Africans should be in the forefront of sorting out Africas problems.We need help but all should not be left to foreigners.African leaders should deliver to the African people.There are so many countries that are rich in minerals and other resources.The income from these should go to programmes that benefit the people and not just a select few.Africa is often made to look like a terrible place.Are there no good places in Africa? Africa has its problems but its a beautiful place and Africans must be proud.I have met so many Africans who are in the habit of complaining about everything about Africa but they dont do anything about it.They just complain to their friends and whoever they talk to but ask them if they vote or if they try to write to a paper or news network or suggest a solution.No.Who is going to change things for us?Our leaders should be taken to task and even we should take ourselves to task for the things that need to be done.The world might offer assistance but it is in our own interests to have a part in making Africa a better place.Even small deeds will make a difference.

  • 29.
  • At 11:19 AM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Gareth Thomas wrote:

According to the World Economic Forum website, Pat Davies from the South African Oil and Gas Company SASOL was also on the panel. I would be interested to read the comments he made.

Good lord! what a lot of opinions! It is probably good to listen more than we talk.

Check out the evidence put forward by Jeffrey Sachs in 'The End of Poverty' -- it gives a comprehensive and nuanced assessment of the complex and intersecting causes for African poverty.

It is also worth taking a look at the Millenium Villages Project -- it has raised $100million and is running grass-roots programs in 78 villages in 10 African countries aimed at addressing the mix of factors contributing to extreme poverty in these communities. The programs are carefully researched, fit the individual communities, and try to stay within a budget of $110 per person per year.

Also, I love the comment made by Bill Gates: 70% of companies in Silicon Valey fail, but we don't say that Silicon Valley is a failure.

How do we measure the success of aid to end extreme poverty? Perhaps not by the 'failure' rate of individual projects.

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