Africa wants G8 to keep promise

2008-07-03 08:40

Dakar - With the G8 summit in Japan set for next week Africa wants the Group of Eight industrialised countries to step up the pace and deliver the aid they promised three years ago in Gleneagles.

African leaders, together for the African Union summit in Sharm el-Sheikh this week, called for the G8 "to make good on its existing promises to support African development". The statement was co-signed by the United Nations and other development agencies.

"African leaders are looking to the G8 to turn their existing promises into action - the credibility of international commitments is at stake," AU Commission Chief Jean Ping said.

At their 2005 summit in the Scottish town of Gleneagles the G8 countries - the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia - pledged to increase their aid to Africa with more than $25bn by 2010.

8 countries invited for talks

Since then several revisions had lowered the figure to $21.8bn, and according to the UN and the AU development, aid had only increased by about a quarter of that amount.

There were calls for the G8 to give new guarantees to step up African aid ahead of the Japan summit. Eight African counties - Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania - had been invited to participate in the talks.

"The first thing we expect from the upcoming G8 summit is that they honour the promises they made," el-Hadj Amadou Sall, the spokesperson for Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, said.

"There were a lot of commitments and pledges which named amounts. If they had been vague promises, we could understand but these were clear figures," he said.

In April the development aid ministers of the G8 countries said at a meeting in Tokyo that they wanted to increase their aid to poor countries.

Ban appeals for commitment

But several organisations like One, the advocacy group launched by U2 singer Bono and the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by former UN chief Kofi Annan, had insisted that the G8 should move faster in getting aid to Africa.

In a report the panel warned that "the G8's commitment to double assistance to Africa by 2010 is not likely to be fulfilled".

It called on the countries to "urgently fund shortfalls against their targets" stressing the impact of the international food crisis and rising oil prices on the African continent.

"Despite commitments being pledged to Africa since the Gleneagles Summit in 2005, there has been a decrease in direct aid to Africa from G8 countries," Auriel Niemack, from the SA Institute of International Affairs said.

"When juxtaposed with the oil price and global food crises, it can be surmised that there will be more seemingly urgent items on the agenda," he added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also appealed to the rich nations to "implement their commitment, which was made in Gleneagles" while African nations increasingly fear that the G8 could announce a reduction in aid.