/ 22 September 2008

UN chief: Where is Africa’s promised aid?

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking at a summit meeting on Africa’s development in New York on Monday, appealed to rich countries to honour their 2005 pledge to more than double their aid to the continent.

”I appeal to all donors to implement the 2005 Gleneagles summit to more than double aid to Africa,” he told meeting amid concern that Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in efforts to meet key poverty-reduction goals by 2015.

At their 2005 summit in the Scottish town of Gleneagles, G8 countries — the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia — pledged to boost their aid to Africa with an extra $25-billion by 2010.

Since then several revisions have lowered the figure to $21,8-billion, and according to the UN and the African Union, development aid has only increased by about one-quarter of that amount.

The recent meltdown of the global financial industry that led to a proposed $700-billion US government bailout is likely to make donors even less willing to offer more help.

In a report unveiled on September 11, Ban warned that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed by world leaders eight years ago might not be met by the 2015 target date, particularly in Africa.

He also noted that total net aid from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries came to only 0,28% of their combined gross national income, as opposed to the UN target of 0,7%, he noted.

”We now have a good idea of what is needed,” Ban told representatives of more than 160 countries, among them French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, on Monday.

”It will cost about $72-billion per year in external financing to achieve the MDGs [in Africa] by the 2015 deadline,” the UN secretary general added. ”This price tag may look daunting. But it is affordable and falls within existing aid commitments.”

Monday’s Africa meeting comes a day before the 192-member UN General Assembly is to open its annual general debate and three days before world leaders gathered here are to hold another high-level meeting on implementation of the MDGs worldwide.

In 2000, a world summit here agreed on eight development goals to be implemented by all countries by 2015. They included halving the number of people living below the poverty line — now set at $1,25 a day — between 1990 and 2015.

The other goals focused on achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating diseases such as HIV/Aids; ensuring environmental sustainability; and creating global partnerships for development. — Sapa-AFP