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West must change approach to Africa

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SUDAN/Tom Cargill, Assistant Head of the Africa Programme at Chatham House, writes on the West’s relationship with Africa:

French President Nicholas Sarkozy put it best this week, when he spoke of the increasing important of Africa in Global Affairs: “Africa’s formidable demographics and its considerable resources make it the main reservoir for world economic growth in the decades to come.”

This is indeed the principal finding of our new Chatham House Report ‘Our Common Strategic Interests: Africa’s role in the post G8 World’. Yet so far there is very little evidence that Western policy makers, publics, or most importantly, businesses, are waking up to the opportunities that are slowly draining away from them with each passing day.

For the past ten years, fundamental change has been taking place across large parts of Africa. Growth rates and stability have increased. Political, regulatory and security reform have deepened. Increasing investment from China, but also Brazil, India, Turkey, South Korea, Argentina and other ambitious emerging powers has acted for the most part as an accelerant.

Is Obama Africa’s saviour?

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Africa is rich in natural resources like oil, gold, diamonds, platinum and yet millions of African people live in abject poverty. The global economic and climate crisis have made life even harder.

At the recent G8 meeting in Italy, African leaders and members of civil society voiced concerns over the promises made in previous G8 meetings of aid and assistance that have yet to materialise.

How has the G8 delivered on its Africa Action Plan?

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g8_bush_kikwete.jpgThis 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.

Does Africa need aid?

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Worker carries mud bricks in Chad 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.

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