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2005-07-09

What has the G8 meeting achieved for Africa? 

Well, among the mixup of old and new pledges it seems rather hard to really know. There is the G8 Gleneagles Communique [pdf] of course, the second part of which is on aid for Africa. The most substantive parts are Annex II and this paragraph on page 26:
27. The commitments of the G8 and other donors will lead to an increase in official development assistance to Africa of $25 billion a year by 2010, more than doubling aid to Africa compared to 2004.
In addition to the one-off debt relief package that was announced several weeks ago, this definitely is not only a step forward rather than backward, but, if implemented, it means that financial aid will reach a qualitatively new level, something that many experts consider a necessity for finally seeing significant progress. This would be absolutely wonderful, inspite of the fact that of course more funds would have been even more wonderful.

In its response to the communique, the Make Poverty History Campaign broadly acknowledges that apart from aid increases that were already known previously, there will be significant new money (US$20 billion):
The G8's promise of US$48 billion boost to aid in five years is mostly made up of money already pledged. MPH calculates that only around US$20 billion is new money. Some of this money is also likely to be raised through borrowing from future aid budgets, rather than new contributions.
The breakdown of pledged contributions by country is in Annex II on page 30 of the communique. It's good that the European G8-members are among those who promise the biggest additional funds, in line with the pledge of the whole EU "to reach 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI by 2015 with a new interim collective target of 0.56 per cent ODA/GNI by 2010." [Austria, which is a laggard in aid funding levels, will have to hurry up to get in line.]

It is understandable that aid organisations would prefer to see the higher aid levels reached sooner, but if incremental increases are more digestible for realpolitik, that can maybe be tolerated.

The big questionmark in all this is of course that all these pledges are non-binding. A pledge made by one of the national leaders in 2005 does not mean that whatever government is installed in the respective countries in 2010 or 2014, facing budgetary situations that are unforeseeable from today, will feel a strong commitment to fulfill that old funding commitment from ten years ago. The civil society will need to uphold constant pressure on the governments until then. This is easier said than done!

I take back my harsh criticism of Tony Blair's achievements in this matter from several weeks ago. The decisions to which he has contributed are positive. I pledge that I will continue to try to give him and all other politicians responsible for these matters a hard time :-).


3 comments:

The problem with aid to Africa is that the money makes a u-turn to foreign bank accounts of the elites in the respective countries and only a fraction stays there. And not even that fraction gets used for life improving measures but finances the imports of luxury goods.
Unless there is a way this system of corruption gets weeded out I propose to stop all monetary aid as such a measure would not be noted by the general populace at all but it might move the elites to start working on sustainable projects that will lead to economic development.
Don't get me wrong, I still support (and donate) to humanitarian causes such as direct food donations and internationally supervised education projects. But it makes me sick to see the ruling elites of impoverished countries like Swaziland and Zimbabwe being chauffeured around in new luxury cars.
 

Well of course corruption has been one of, if not the single main reason for the lack of progress made in many countries in Africa, quite independent from foreign aid levels. It is therefore now state-of-the-art to make financial aid contingent on criteria of good governance - also in the G8 initiative. Corruption in a society never disappears from one day to the next. Therefore it seems to me that calls for the suspension of all aid until corruption is eliminated are often either naive or cynical. Many (for example Jeffrey Sachs I think) believe that even without corruption, current aid levels would be just too low to achieve much prgress. On the other hand, offering what might finally be sufficient levels of aid must be a great lever to press countries to get serious about fighting their domestic corruption if this is a condition for access to the funds.
 

Africa and other indebted countries have paid their debt many times over. These countries, colonized and brutalized by the same countries that are lending them money with various conditionalities would like to impose other sets of policies to make these countries' economies tied to them. While debt cancellation may not eradicate the problem, it is a first step so that impoverished countries do not suffocate. Czar < http://starsi.blogdrive.com >
 
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