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What can Africa expect from the G8?

July 8, 2009











Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi agreed to sit down with Reuters on Wednesday only hours before leaving for the G8 summit in Italy. He told us he planned to remind the rich leaders he met there that the economic slowdown and global warming are having a disproportionate effect on Africa. And that the world’s poorest continent did nothing to cause them.

The former rebel represented Africa at this year’s G20 summit of rich nations and is arguing the case on behalf of the continent again today and tomorrow. Continental spokesman seems a roll Meles — who has a passionate interest in economics — is comfortable with. But he told us it was only related to his job as Ethiopian Prime Minister and that he has no desire to take on a pan-African job if and when he retires as leader — something he has recently said he has plans to do.

“The key message for us is to ask the G8 to live up to their commitments,” Meles said, looking relaxed in his Addis Ababa office as he prepared to fly off to Rome. “The promise (from the G20 summit) was that something like $50 billion dollars would be made available to poorer countries. Slightly more than $20 billion of that is on hand. The rest needs to be fulfilled.”

The Ethiopian leader also said Africa’s myriad problems were being compounded by global
warming and it was essential that the continent be compensated by the rich world at
environment talks due for Denmark in December.

“Many institutions have tried to quantify (the amount of compensation) and they have come up with different figures,” Meles said. “The sort of median figure would be in the range of $40 billion a year.”

But some analysts think that figure is very ambitious, especially bearing in mind that only $20 billion of the $50 billion promised at G20 has so far made it into the hands of those to whom it’s been promised.

Meles certainly sounded like he was heading off to the G8 with a full plate of issues and ideas for the world’s richest nations.

The problem is that fewer big initiatives are expected to be agreed in Rome as there were at the G20.

So what’s the best he, and Africa, can really hope for?

Is the developed world to blame for the economic difficulties the world’s poorest are facing? If so, what should it do? And should Africa be compensated for climate change?


Why don’t you put a cork in it Barry. Africa would not need aid if its resources are managed properly and the lords of poverty and lords of war that purvey corruption and arms were to be kicked out. Alas, when there are reporters of your calibre portraying Meles as inspiring leader, they help for things to stay the same.
If you keep telling us that Ethiopia has been growing by 10% for a decade, and it gets the highest aid in Africa of $3billion/yr, while it has 14 million people persistently at the edge of starvation for the past 20 years, either there is something wrong with your reporting or we are in some sort of twilight zone.

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

Meles is correct in saying that Africa suffers from the industrial countries’ carbon footprint. This cannot be denied. He does, however, not make much sense in saying that the West and the North are causing Ethiopia and other African nations’ suffering. He is causing it as are many of his fellow East African leaders…Bashir, Mugabe, Kagame, Museveni and vitually all the so-called leaders in Somalia. What Africa needs is a frank admission of the utter uselessness and corruption of such leaders and the political will to simply get rid of them. Global warming is killing far less Africans than these leaders and causing far less suffering. Meles has to get his priorties straight, resign and try to get a real job. When these terrible leaders leave, then the West and North should seriously consider compensation to the people of Africa for the suffering caused by global warming. Until that time, these guys will “eat” the money and the people will continue to suffer. Hold the money till they wave good bye.

Posted by Paul Kortenhoven | Report as abusive

For years I had watched western journalists being interested only in our adversity and writing very exaggerated accounts of some of the problems we as Africans and Ethiopians encounter. With Barry, it is a whole different approach. He reports the news as it happens and he doesn’t seem to agree to with the western definition of news “bad news is good news”. So I would like to thank Barry for being a good journalist. It is against this background that I see him writing several articles about Meles’ Africa role which, nobody doubts, is a very positive and constructive role. The man amazes me every time he comes up with feasible new ideas and Africa and the world have accepted him for what he is… and that should be a source of pride for Ethiopians. Thanks Barry

Posted by Ermias | Report as abusive

I dont see anything for Africa from the G8 summit. The flaws were obvious right from the G20 Summit in April where leaders engaged in empty promises but failed to say how the pledged funds would reach the needy cases in time. Alot of water has passed under the bridge and nothing(funds) has landed for Africa months later.The Africans through the AfDB have instead opted to scramble for homegrown solutions through a specially crafted Global Trade Liquidity Programme(GTLP).
The G8 summit has come even under more complex times because much of the promised stimulus package has only landed in the developed economies.
This scenario triggers worries for Africa because we shall see some smart type of protectionist strategies and policies being employed by rich nations. No one would be mad enough to pump huge investment to protect his or her own economy then fail to shield the same.
Africa will be in for a rude shock; clever subsidies,economic nationalism by rich nations,protectionism through cliches like “national security”.
It would take a miracle to get something out of G8.

Posted by Allan Odhiambo | Report as abusive

As an Ethiopian I would have taken a pride in Melese representing Africa in G8. It is a shame that Africa is represented by a huge liar. I fully agree with what Dan is saying. We Ethiopians are really tired of hearing fictitious figures about the GDP growth against the frustrating ground realities. It does not take a genius to see the economic and social transformation had said 10+ GDP growth been true. Where is this growth hiding? Any body can play with statistics it collects, manages and disseminates. The proof should be on the ground. No independent body has proven what Melese’s government preaches. World Bank and IMF-with their own flaws-have a different picture. In fact both WB and IMF are using the same dataset that government provides. We here in Ethiopia know that Melese never steps down by his own will. He is just playing a political game. He will tell in 2010 that he was forced to reconsider his decision by his party and will take the post again.

Posted by Awassa | Report as abusive

What Africa? The first mistake we make is thinking that Africa is one nation like the US as it actually is a continent consisting of thousands of different tribes and cultures. If we pretend that one cure can solve the whole of Africas problems, then we’re bound to fail miserably.


Three key answers I have for this question.But first, Are African Leaders beggers or developers?
Let me answer the question by saying that developed countries are not African countries’ problem in all ways. However, western countries are contributing to Africa’s problem in so sense. Let elaborate further.
Africans need to come toghether as one in orer to solve their own problem in thier own ways and life-styles. They need to stop depending on the rich nation, like the U.S, Britain, and the like. They must plan strategically and logistically so as come up with a viable projects that could enable in developing their countries. Let them take a common lesson from China and other Asian countries like Japan. Wake Up Africa! Wake up leaders of Africa! And stop begging for billions to enrich yourself and your family, look out for the common man in your countries. Stopping corruption would not make you leaders poor, neither will it maintain your affluence status in your community forever. Remember the Law of Karma – Law of Retribution; “what ges up, must comes down”. Lead for the sake of tomorrow generation, be industrious while staying patriotic to your country, and be emparthic like you are leading your immediate family.
On the other hand, industrialized nations are in somehow contributing to the problems in African countries, as well. I strongly believe that they do so by sponsoring and finacing wars for the sake of natural resources like diamond, uranium, iron ore, petroleum, amd the likes. Until these greed are stop, Africa will never ever over-come its back sliding motion. Because of these vices, African countries have been “moon walking” since independence.With all these said, it is hard time we opened our eyes in Africa and watch our thieves-leaders, beggers across the continents who want to only cater for themselves in the name of their people. STOP! Stop blaming all our problem on the West! And developed countries STOP stealing from poor countries that need your help, be merciful and know the God is watching over all of us.

Posted by Morris | Report as abusive

Africa when are you going to wake up ? I am tired of reading about such comments that Africa that G8 this to Africa . Aluta continua people we are not free , we are not free .


I am really saddened by the African leaders to send NAZI Zenawi to represent Africa where we have Ghana a symbol of democracy. Pleas do not insult Ethiopian people by portraying Zenawi as a democratic leader while he is killing its own people. I am also ashamed to see our free world leaders seating next to him such as Obama and Gordon.

Posted by Begatafekad | Report as abusive

firstly, i would like to say that i am an african, yes i am. and look, imnot ashamed for that, im ashamed for having such false leaders that we have, who keep spoiling their own countries, yes they do. And they dont care, their ignorance disturbes me day and night. oh God, they eat our money, kill our and their people, they are selfishes, liars, corrupts. and more, they play side by side with the devil,what a shame. and when meet the west leaders, they disguised of harmless sheep, carnivorous wolves.
I speak this like confession, but believe me, this does not constitute 1 % of what I have to say about these projects of inhuman persons.
But, one day they are going to pay, oh they are going… to be continued.


Western action will always fall short of its commitments to Africa. They are to busy trying to keep there own big heads above water. Even if they did keep to agreed amounts of Aid, compensations or whatever you like to call it, the African leaderships milk these cash cows for all it there worth and whats left is not enough to do what is needed.

Posted by Geoff | Report as abusive

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