The promise of Africa
- 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:
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]
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
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.
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.
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]
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