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Report Card: 1 Year Later, Geldof Gives Rich Countries Failing Grade On Promises To Africa

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After last summer's self-congratulatory hoopla, the depressing truth finally comes out.
Looks like it's time to turn up the heat, again...


Published on Friday, June 30, 2006 by the Independent / UK

Geldof Says Richest Countries' Pledge to End Poverty in Africa Still Not Honoured
by Philip Thornton

The world's richest countries have failed to live up to promises they gave at the Gleneagles summit a year ago to end extreme poverty in Africa, Bob Geldof said yesterday.

The rock star turned Africa campaigner called on the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations to do more to meet the commitments they made in July 2005 in Scotland in the wake of the worldwide "Make Poverty History" campaign and the Live8 concert in London. He said that while G8 countries had honoured pledges to cancel poor countries' debts, commitments on aid were falling behind. A fair deal on world trade was also as distant a prospect as it was a year ago, he said.

Geldof said the performance on debt relief was good, aid "OK", but trade "ugly". He told a news conference: "Summing it up, there's the good, the OK and there is the seemingly ugly.

"A parent makes a promise to a child and if that promise is broken cynicism and a lack of trust set in. The promise from the economically powerful to the economically weak is more important because if we break that promise, we kill them."

Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, addressed the London meeting via a videolink. He said: "We can be the great generation that makes poverty history but to make poverty history we must now make promises happen one by one. Don't give up now, let your politicians know you are watching every step they take."

Mr Mandela and Geldof were speaking at the launch of a report by the campaign group DATA, headed by the U2 frontman and Africa campaigner Bono, to mark the first anniversary of the summit. DATA - which stands for Debt, Aid, Trade, Africa - said progress so far had been "painfully slow, proceeding at best at half-pace".

Last year, the G8 promised $50bn (£27bn) with more aid every year by 2010, half of that going to Africa; comprehensive Aids treatment by 2010; debt cancellation for 38 of the world's poorest countries; primary education for all children by 2010 and a trade deal benefiting Africa.

Jamie Drummond, the executive director of DATA, said: "The G8 strode forward down the promised path of debt, but have shuffled with a halting half-pace on aid, while falling backwards on trade. The campaigners around the world who got the G8 closer to the right path in the first place must now encourage them to accelerate down it."

Campaign groups are building up for protests around the world in the run-up the summit of the heads of state of the G8 in St Petersburg next month.

Out of the G8 countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and US - DATA gave top marks to France as the only country on track for the 2010 aid target. It singled out Britain for praise for Gordon Brown's campaign to launch a multibillion-pound initiative to front-load cash to fund vaccinations against killer diseases, and for its "leadership" on debt and the fight against Aids. It reserved its main criticism for Germany, whose aid budget fell last year, and Italy, which it said was "way off track" on the 2010 commitments.

The UK Government said its official aid budget would continue to rise, hitting the global benchmark of 0.7 per cent of national income by 2013, two years ahead of the EU's target of 2015.

Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, said the DATA report showed the real progress made since the "memorable" Gleneagles summit. "Much progress has already been achieved in a short time," he said. "On debt, 20 of the world's poorest countries have seen their debts written off, meaning countries like Zambia ... can spend the money they would have done on debt repayments to provide free health care instead."

DATA did not assess Russia as it still grappling with development issues of its own.

Meanwhile hopes of a deal to open up agricultural markets to Africa by cutting tariffs and subsidies in the US and Europe were fading. Ministers from 60 countries were meeting yesterday at the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva in a last-ditch attempt to get a deal. Celso Amorim, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, said: "I have the impression that the gaps have actually widened or at least have become more rigid."

* The Tories may pledge to spend more than Labour on aid to the Third World. In a speech to Oxfam, in Oxford, yesterday, Mr Cameron promised to match Labour's pledge to boost Britain's aid spending to 0.7 per cent of national income by 2013 but said the Tories might go "further and faster" and would review the position every year. He also said a Tory government might bring in "aid vouchers" so that corrupt governments could not siphon off money and prevent it reaching the people who needed it.

How the G7 nations compare on aid

United Kingdom

Aid:The $115m (£63.5m) increase in aid to Africa must rise to $427m this year.

Trade: The UK has been the most vocal of the G8 and EU countries in calling for steeper subsidy cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Debt/other issues: Praised for debt cancellation and for Tony Blair's plan for an Africa progress panel to hold the G8 accountable.


Aid: Aid budget fell by £5.5m last year putting it "clearly off track". It needs an £80m cash injection.

Trade: Like all G8 countries, DATA finds Canada guilty of failing to use the Hong Kong meeting of the WTO to broker a deal.

Debt: The new Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, campaigned on a ticket of hitting the 2010 targets. He must set out a "clear timeline".


Aid: Deserves praise for increased aid to Africa and is the only nation on track for the 2010 goal.

Trade: France is the "biggest block" to reform to EU farm subsidies, which go to agribusiness not farmers, and the main obstacle to brokering a new global trade deal.

Debt: Gets credit for leadership on an air ticket levy to raise money to buy Aids drugs.


Aid: Its budget fell by £540,000 last year and needs to find £362m this year. Praises commitment to raise aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2015.

Trade: Germany must support reform of the CAP which currently sucks £1.8bn out of Germany each year that could diverted to aid.

Debt: Deal to cancel debt was signed under the German presidency of G8. But Germany ought to return its share of £6bn debt repayment by Nigeria.


Aid: Last year's increase of £14.2m was "way off track" to meet Gleneagles commitments although DATA acknowledged it has an "economy in difficulty".

Trade: Found to be "major block", with France, of CAP reform.

Debt: Another beneficiary of the £6bn Nigerian debt repayment. It has agreed to raise its aid budget to 0.7 per cent by 2015.


Aid: Only G8 country for which development assistance figures for 2005 were not available.

Trade: As a food exporter, Japan has taken a defensive stance on cutting trade-distorting support.

Debt: The Japanese government, which will have new prime minister by September, must start thinking about an Africa agenda for its 2008 G8 summit.

United States

Aid: Despite increasing aid for Africa by $480m last year it still needs to raise it by $720m this year to meet its commitment.

Trade: Has been "reluctant" to commit to deeper cuts in subsidies and has a specific problem on its payments to cotton farmers that angers African countries.

Debt: Credit for part in multilateral agreement on debt cancellation.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited