Enough promises -- where is Africa's aid?

International donors and African government institutions have to make good on their promises of aid for Africa, the African Monitor said on Tuesday.

“Promises to Africa have been made. The time to act is now,” African Monitor president Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

An African Monitor study has found that aid to Africa has been static since 2005, despite donors’ promises to redouble their efforts on the continent. Aid is expected to drop in 2007 and 2008.

“Donor support to agriculture and rural development has decreased in the last couple of years,” said Ndungane.
“While African governments have prioritised agricultural expenditure, they have also not met their target of increasing expenditure on agriculture to 10% of the budget.”

Ndungane said the collapse of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha talks has stalled negotiations on international trade, which is largely biased against developing countries and restricts market access by African countries.

While Africa’s growth rate has been impressive in the past couple of years, it has not led to improvements in the socio-economic conditions of the poor, as poverty is on the increase, he said.

“We call on the donors such as the G8 [Group of Eight], European Union and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, including African government institutions such as the African Union and Nepad [the New Partnership for Africa’s Development], to adhere to their promise of delivering effective and accelerated aid to the continent.”

G8 promises

The G8, which has been at the forefront of pledging aid to Africa, has once again promised to put Africa on its agenda when it meets for its yearly summit in Germany next week.

Ndungane said the G8 has already had failed to meet its 2005 Gleneagles, Scotland, target of providing all African countries with 0,7% of its gross domestic product in development. Instead, it is sending 55% of the aid to only Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana and Zambia.

“These are the 10 donor darlings of Africa; as to why, your guess is only as good as mine. If aid efforts are to be successful in Africa, the G8 should stop favouring certain countries and push for development in all African countries,” the archbishop said.

He said another reason for aid stagnating in Africa is because donors want to impose certain conditions or force Africa countries to adopt their policies before granting aid.

“Conditions which are imposed on African countries hamper the continent’s development. If organisations such as the G8 were serious about eradicating poverty in Africa, they should rather do away with tariffs and increase market access to Africa, so we can enter into trade.

“At the end of the day, trade is the only way that Africa will get out of its quagmire of poverty,” said Ndungane. “We will be watching the summit and hope that the G8 will this year start delivering well on their promises.”

It was reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he wanted to use his farewell trip to Africa this week to build momentum for a rich-nation summit that would focus on Africa and push for a world trade deal.

Blair hoped the G8 would reaffirm generous debt and aid commitments it made at the Gleneagles summit, as well as make new pledges on education and Aids.—Sapa

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