Davos Notebook

Stingy Italians

berluscoiA black mark for Italy in the doing-good stakes.

Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, took a swipe at the Italian government in Davos for being “uniquely stingy” when it comes to foreign aid.

The good guys are Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Luxembourg — all of which give 0.72 to 1.0 percent of GDP as foreign aid.

But Italy gives a paltry 0.21 percent, following a decision by Silvio Berlusconi’s government to cut its help to poor countries by more than half.

So, who is Gates to talk?

Well, he and wife Melinda have arguably earned the right to a certain amount of finger-wagging after pledging $10 billion over the next decade to fund vaccine development and delivery in developing countries.

Africa needs to bargain more

africaAfrica is one area we at Reuters is focusing at this year’s Davos (click for our special report)

Kola Karim, chif executive of Lagos/London-based Shoreline Energy International, says moves by Korea, Saudi Arabia and other emerging countries to buy up thousands of hectares of land in Africa to grow food “is sending fears to Africans.”

“Africa needs to ask, are these deals for us? Or for them. There’s a mismatch. We’re talking about countries that lack food. There’s no food for us,” he tells Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.