Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
This week’s G8 summit in Japan marks 6 years since the group of the world’s top industrial nations adopted a comprehensive action plan to support initiatives to spur the development of Africa. The G8 Africa Action Plan adopted at a summit in Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002 was seen as the biggest boost to Africa’s own home-grown development initiative, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD. The G8 Plan pledges to help Africa tackle the main obstacles to its development — from promoting peace and security, to boosting trade and implementing debt relief to expanding education, health facilities and fighting HIV/AIDS.
As a followup to the Action Plan, the G8 at its 2005 summit in Scotland agreed to double aid by 2010 to $50 billion, half of which would go to Africa. But as G8 leaders prepared for this year’s summit in Japan, the Africa Progress Panel set up to monitor implementation of the 2005 commitments issued a gloomy report last month. It said under current spending the G8 would fall $40 billion short of its target. Other aid agency officials accused the G8 of backtracking on its pledges to Africa.
But some analysts argue that agreements reached at the 2005 summit were just a part of the G8 Africa Action Plan which offers a far more comprehensive framework for dealing with the continent’s problems. Britain under Prime Minister Tony Blair played a leading role in placing Africa’s problems at the top of the G8 agenda. The UK progress report details London’s implementation of the G8 Action Plan including its role as lead international partner in Sierra Leone after helping to end civil war in the former colony in 2002. US President George W. Bush has won praise in Africa for commiting more of the administrations’s resources to Africa’s war against HIV/AIDS.
But overall, has the G8 kept faith with Africa in the implementation of the Africa Action Plan? How have the decisions of the G8 helped your country or your personal life? Has NEPAD shown enough capacity to keep the G8 focused on its pledges? Is the G8 likely to switch its focus from Africa to more pressing global issues like soaring oil prices and the threat of inflation and recession in its own member countries? Have your say.
Although Zimbabwe got all the headlines, the official theme of the African Union summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was water.
That made it all the more surprising for thirsty delegates that there was none for them to drink.
Journalists covering the summit had other complaints.
Usually, these meetings are a glorious chance for reporters to grab quotes from normally elusive heads of state as they glide through the plush halls, flanked by aides and bodyguards.
But the Egyptians had other ideas at this summit. Maybe it was a sign of the sensitivity of the discussions, with Zimbabwe’s election crisis overshadowing all other topics. Or perhaps it was an indication of the immensely tight security around Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — who escaped an assassination attempt at an African summit in Ethiopia in 1995.
Local security officials banned reporters from entering areas even two halls away from where the leaders were meeting.
A few news crews still got through, but some scuffled with President Robert Mugabe’s security men late on Sunday — the 84-year-old leader was himself knocked about. After that, security became even tighter, with journalists confined only to a smoky, overcrowded press centre.
Reporters like me and Reuters colleagues Opheera McDoom and Cynthia Johnston were banned from going to interview leaders even after their aides came to escort us to see them.
At least one official was advised not to enter the press room — to avoid provoking a crush. Egyptian security said they couldn’t guarantee the safety of officials.
Meanwhile, journalists were barricaded in one end of the building, with no food provided apart from two coffee breaks during the 12-hour days. Those offerings were devoured in seconds by a ravenous pack, depriving those who weren’t quick enough for even a dry piece of cake.
AU officials griped about the lack of hospitality too.
“This is the worst summit ever,” said one experienced AU official.
Mugabe’s victory in Friday’s one-candidate poll was condemned in the West and by all three African monitoring groups who said the vote was deeply flawed.
The decision has been met by a storm of international condemnation of the violence, with increasingly powerful voices speaking out from Africa. On Tuesday President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and ANC leader Jacob Zuma joined the condemnation and called for the vote to be postponed.
Rich countries look set to fall roughly $40 billion short of the amount they had pledged to give to Africa by 2010. So says a report released on Monday by the panel set up to monitor commitments made amid much fanfare at the Group of Eight summit in 2005.
The panel said G8 countries were not keeping their promises at the very moment rising food prices threaten to increase hunger and child mortality. The report also calls for a rethink of trade policies to help African countries and urges rich nations to spend more on renewable energy sources there.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai detained twice in a week, U.S. and British diplomats forced from their cars by police, rallies banned, aid workers stopped from working, reports of violence from across the countryside. The campaign for Zimbabwe’s presidential election run-off on June 27 is being hard fought, literally.
The opposition accuses President Robert Mugabe of responsibility for violence and says 65 people have been killed. The ruling party blames Tsvangirai’s followers and says Mugabe’s Western foes and some aid agencies have been campaigning for the opposition.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua took office a year ago promising to pursue free-market reforms launched by his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, vowing zero tolerance for corruption and listing seven national priorities including improving power supply and reducing food insecurity.
A year on, his critics say economic reforms are grinding to a halt, his anti-corruption efforts are just window-dressing and his cabinet is largely a collection of ineffective bureaucrats who are but a shadow of an all-star cast in the former administration.