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Africa: G8 Reaction, Perspectives

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jul 13, 2005 (050713)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"Outside of British officialdom," writes Sanjay Suri of Inter Press Service from the Gleneagles summit, "celebrations of increased G8 aid for Africa were confined mostly to a population of two - rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono." Non-governmental groups in the Make Poverty History campaign, in contrast, were generally skeptical.

As noted in the Inter Press Service article (available at, Geldof graded the summit as "10 out of 10 on aid; eight out of 10 on debt." The bizarrely extravagant claim contrasted with other commentators who stressed that not only was the aid commitment for 5 years in the future and far short of the total needed, but also that it largely consisted of repackaging of previous announcements with uncertain delivery dates.

More than a third of the 32-page G8 communique itself was devoted to Africa, but almost all consisted of very general statements without specific timetables or commitments (see Meanwhile, Reuters reported on July 12 that the World Food Program was in immediate need of an extra $12 million to feed nearly one million people in Niger, largely because most of an earlier $4.2 million request was received late from donors.

In addition to questions raised about the policy commitments made by the summit, Geldof's remark reinforced many African commentators' dismay at the spectacle of stars from the West presuming to put themselves forward as the principal representatives for Africa, reinforcing a paternalistic stance that is itself part of the problem.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a statement from African civil society organizations at the conclusion of the G8 summit, a summary of financial commitments by individual G8 countries, and two commentaries raising broader issues of the meaning of the summit and the Live8 phenomenon appearing in the weekly Pambazuka News. Additional critical commentaries and editorials are available on the Pambazuka website at

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from a report from the Royal African Society in London, entitled "The Damage We Do to Africa."

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

The 2005 Summit Of The G8: Disappointed But Resolute

ActionAid (London)

July 8, 2005

Joint Statement from African Civil Society Organisations at the Conclusion of the 2005 Summit, Gleneagles, Scotland 6-8th July

As the G8 Summit comes to an end on the 8th July, we representatives of some of the largest continental organisations and national networks headquartered in several African cities, bringing together women's organisations, labour, researchers, development and advocacy NGOs across Africa note the following;

Firstly, we express our total solidarity with the British people and our deep sorrow for the victims of the terrorist attacks on London yesterday.

Simply put, we are disappointed in the outcomes of Gleneagles. The resolutions fall far short of our expectations for a comprehensive and radical strategy to make poverty history in Africa. The Summit has simply reaffirmed existing decisions on debt cancellation and doubling of aid. The debt package only provides only 10% of the relief required and affects only one third of the countries that need it. A large component of the US$50 billion pledged is drawn from existing obligations. Further, both packages are still attached to harmful policy conditionality. "Today, the G8 missed a historic opportunity to write off the debt of over 62 least developing countries," said Hassen Lorgat of South Africa's SANGOCO.

Our work has just begun. Over the next six months, we shall intensify our campaigns for;

  1. Total and unconditional debt write-off for all of Africa failing which debt repudiation becomes the logical conclusion for African Governments.
  2. The G8 to meet the 0.7% GNI target for international development assistance and front load those commitments without donor imposed policy conditionality.
  3. The WTO to recognise the right of African states to redress and protect their fragile economies without losing their right to access industrialized countries markets
  4. Remove OECD market access constraints and end subsidies that lead to dumping of products on Africa markets, crowding out African farmers and producers.

Above all, Africa must look within for change. "The message from Gleneagles is clear to us in Africa. We will intensify our call to our Governments that have not secured debt cancellation to strongly consider repudiating their unjust and odious external debt," said Justice Egware of Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All in Nigeria. The HIPC conditionalities do not suit the needs of most of our countries. Further, we urge them to exercise their right to protect our economies and essential services like health and education.

This year, we have been an integral part of a historic global campaign to end poverty. We will continue to mobilize internationally through the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and other global campaigns. The millions mobilized in Africa and around the world should not be disappointed. We will stay our course and remain vigilant until we secure the conditions for Africa's renaissance.

Signed by the following African and regional civil society organizations and networks:

African Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) - Harare
African Women Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)-Nairobi
Mwelekeo wa NGO (MWENGO) - Harare
Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI)
Pan African Literacy and Adult Education (PALAE)
Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA)
South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) - South Africa
Le Conseil des ONG du STnTgal (CONGAD)
Eco-news Africa - Kenya
Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All - Nigeria

Endorsed by

ActionAid International, Fahamu-UK and Justice Africa - UK
Africa Action, Foreign Policy in Focus, TransAfrica - USA

G8 Communique, July 8, 2005

Annex II

Financing commitments (as submitted by individual G8 members)

The EU has pledged to reach 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI by 2015 with a new interim collective target of 0.56 per cent ODA/GNI by 2010. The EU will nearly double its ODA between 2004 and 2010 from ? 34.5 billion to ? 67 billion. At least 50% of this increase should go to sub-Saharan Africa.

Germany (supported by innovative instruments) has undertaken to reach 0.51 per cent ODA/GNI in 2010 and 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI in 2015.

Italy has undertaken to reach 0.51 per cent ODA/GNI in 2010 and 0.7% ODA/GNI in 2015

France has announced a timetable to reach 0.5 per cent ODA/GNI in 2007, of which 2/3 for Africa, - representing at least a doubling of ODA since 2000 - and 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI in 2012.

The UK has announced a timetable to reach 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI by 2013 and will double its bilateral spending in Africa between 2003/04 and 2007/08.

A group of the countries above firmly believe that innovative financing mechanisms can help deliver and bring forward the financing needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. They will continue to consider the International Financing Facility (IFF), a pilot IFF for Immunisation and a solidarity contribution on plane tickets to finance development projects, in particular in the health sector, and to finance the IFF. A working group will consider the implementation of these mechanisms.

The US proposes to double aid to Sub-Saharan Africa between 2004 and 2010. It has launched the Millennium Challenge Account, with the aim of providing up to $5 billion a year, the $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, an initiative to address Humanitarian Emergencies in Africa of more than $2 billion in 2005, and a new $1.2 billion malaria initiative. The US will continue to work to prevent and mitigate conflict, including through the 5-year, $660 million Global Peace Operations Initiative.

Japan intends to increase its ODA volume by $10 billion in aggregate over the next five years. Japan has committed to double its ODA to Africa over the next three years and launched the $5 billion 'Health and Development Initiative' over the next five years. For the "Enhanced Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) for Africa" facility, Japan will provide more than $1 billion over 5 years in partnership with the AfDB.

Canada will double its international assistance from 2001 to 2010, with assistance to Africa doubling from 2003/4 to 2008/9. As well, the 2005 Budget provided an additional C$342 million to fight diseases that mainly afflict Africa. The C$200 million Canada Investment Fund for Africa, will provide public-private risk capital for private investments and Canada will provide C$190 million to support the AU's efforts in Darfur, as well as C$90 million for humanitarian needs.

Russia has cancelled and committed to cancel $11.3 billion worth of debts owed by African countries, including $2.2 billion of debt relief to the HIPC Initiative. On top of this, Russia is considering writing off the entire stock of HIPC countries' debts on non-ODA loans. This will add $750m to those countries debt relief.

Source: 10 Downing Street

White men in dark suits, ageing rockers and the AU summit

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

July 6, 2005

How I wish I could write this article from beginning to end without mentioning the G8, Tony Blair, Geldof or any of the other busy bodies running around like headless chickens claiming they want to help Africa. I will try and try very hard.

One of the difficulties with becoming flavour of the moment is that you forget what you want for yourself as others divest you of the power to help yourself. Everybody loves Africa now and is going to desperate lengths to show why they are our new best friends!

It is like South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Suddenly we could not find any supporters for the loathed apartheid system anymore both inside and outside of South Africa. Even the Boer Nationalist Party that institutionalised apartheid became anti apartheid. Everywhere Mandela went powerful politicians in powerful countries in Europe and America who had shielded the apartheid regime from international sanctions and prevented censure of the racist regime in multi lateral forums including the UN Security Council, Commonwealth, EU, etc were all queuing up to have their pictures taken with the Great Madiba. They all reinvented their political CVs to show how all along they had been fighting for his release and an end to apartheid. One of the worst of this latter day friend of South African Liberation was Margaret Thatcher, who as British Prime Minister resisted any criticisms of apartheid South Africa, invited Botha on a state visit to London and described the ANC as a 'typical terrorist organisation like the IRA.'

Africa is in a similar situation now. It is difficult to know how to react to this sudden show of concern for a people that have been so marginalized and humiliated for such a long time. It is like being offered a handkerchief by the same person who is beating the hell out of you.

After last Saturday's multi-city parties the whole world is now programmed to look up to eight white men in dark suits meeting in far away Gleneagles, Scotland, to save Africa. None of them is an African.

Yet a much bigger assembly of another powerful group of people, all of them heads of state from across Africa, were meeting in the Libyan city of Shirte deciding on the future of Africa without a similar focus in the global media.

It is these people through their action and inaction who have the power to change things for the better or worse on this continent. Anybody who really cares about helping Africa needs to know what these group of unfortunately, all men, have been saying to themselves.

The fifth ordinary Summit of the Assembly of the African Union has just ended in Shirte. The leaders amongst other pressing issues had to address themselves to the dances for poverty and pledges for action from outsiders about Africa. They welcomed the initial debt relief package for developing countries out of which 15 African countries will benefit. However they called for universal debt cancellation that benefits all African countries, not just a select few.

This is a logical consensus given previous experience of African countries scandalously competing among themselves about who is more connected in Washington, London or Paris. Individually they sold out but collectively we may regain some dignity and credibility. They have to avoid being played against each other. The separate deal for debt relief for Nigeria is potentially one of those divide and rule tactics. It may limit Nigeria's capacity to talk on behalf of Africa and also neutralise it in bloc negotiations, whether in the WTO or in the IMF/World Bank. My own suspicion is that they have agreed to throw this carrot at Nigeria as an advance compensation for her not to get the much-coveted UN Security Council permanent seat, which will more likely go to South Africa.

Significantly, the AU summit did not dwell so much on aid but rather called for the abolition of unfair trading rules that rig international trade against Africa and asked for a clear timetable for the abolition of these subsidies. One can see that the African leaders are not taken in by various pledges on aid and rather want us to trade our way to prosperity instead of being aided to remain dependent. This contrasts with Prophet Blair's breakthrough in getting a calendar on aid targets. The AU is saying we need some fair-trade not some aid.

These are the messages that the African leaders invited to the G8 as side salads will be taking to Gleneagles. I really wish that these leaders would stop ridiculing themselves by appearing like an NGO lobby group at the Summit of Rich White Men. From next year they should have a face-to-face summit to review any progress on mutually agreed targets. After all that is what the mutual accountability principle in the African Peer Review Mechanism is all about. It is about us judging ourselves and also mutually judging each other with our so-called international partners.

Apart from the response to the G8, the AU summit made numerous decisions on a variety of issues that have direct impact on Africa and Africans in more of a way than anything a group of ageing rockers and an exclusive club of white men will do for Africa.

One of those defining issues is the call by the Brother Leader, Muammar Gadaffi, which President Museveni immediately supported, for an all-African Union government and a dismantling of all barriers to freedom of movement for Africans across Africa. While many dismiss this as hasty and too ambitious I would like to remind them to rewind to the reaction to Gadaffi's call for an acceleration of the integration process through a review of the OAU charter at an Extra ordinary summit in the same city of Shirte in September 1999. Then as now the idea was initially dismissed as far-fetched but within three years we had the African Union. Its institutions are now taking shape and at this summit the Libyan leader was upping the stakes for the AU to rise up to the next phase of the struggle for unity without which we will remain beggars and vulnerable to extra African powers. There is no point in asking the rich countries to open up their markets to us when we close ours against each other. We cannot sustainably globalise without Africanising.

* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa. ( or

Bob Geldof and the Livingstone connection: Africa not yet saved?

Patricia Daley

July 6, 2005

Bob Geldof is only the latest in a long line of Europeans who have appointed themselves as spokespersons for Africans, writes Patricia Daley. With a distinct brand of humanitarianism they have acted to serve the demands of global capitalism, suppressing African voices and aiding the exploitation of the continent.

Bob Geldof's rally against poverty in Africa seems to have incurred admiration from well-meaning whites and indifference or resentment from Africans. The questions the critics pose are: who gave this pop star the authority to speak for us; why does he represent Africa in such a one dimensional way? Can't he and his supporters see the realities on the ground? Can't he see that Africans want to speak for themselves? Geldof seems to believe that his mission is noble. To him and his supporters, the moral argument is clear: the West is rich, Africa is poor; the West has the means to help Africa out of poverty. The argument is so simple that only the easily cynical would seek to dispute it. Through his celebrity status Geldof hopes to mobilise western public opinion to put pressure on the leaders of the capitalist world to be more benevolent to Africa.

To understand the Geldof phenomenon, we need to look historically at the role that Africa has played in the European imagination and in global capitalism. Geldof's crusade and attitude is not new. He is only the latest in a long line of European men whose personal mission has been to transform Africa and Africans. David Livingstone, the celebrity of his day, embarked on a similar crusade in the late 19th century, painting Africa as a land of 'evil', of hopelessness and of child-like humans. His mission was to raise money to pursue his personal ambitions.

'Darkest Africa' occupies a special place in the white man's psyche; it remains a place where he [and she] can achieve heroic status. Therefore, does it not make sense that African voices are silenced? Michel Foucault's treatise on the relationship between power and knowledge may be old hat in academia, but still relevant in the real world. Sir Bob would lose his authenticity and thus his power if he was to give space to the multiplicity of African voices; many of which would certainly challenge his stance.

It may seem amazing that in the twenty-first century, with increased mobility, greater communication and an African heading the United Nations that many westerners are more comfortable with European interlopers translating Africa for them. Perhaps, only then could some be persuaded, as one famous Irish comedian was, 'to give money to those bloody niggers'. Africa remains the object of western desires not the subject of its own destiny.

Livingstone's and Geldof's humanitarianism fits well with the demands of global capitalism, serving to obscure distinct phases in the exploitation of Africa. Livingstone's redemption of the African savage was very much tied to colonial conquest and exploitation of the continent's resources; a mission that Livingstone supported in the marriage of commerce and Christian morality. The consequence for most of Africa was dispossession, forced labour, de-humanization, oppression and genocide, as in the Congo Free State.

Geldof's Live Aid also occurred at a time when neo-liberal policies were being forced on recalcitrant African countries. The results are fully documented: collapse of health and education services, increased unemployment and privatization, leading to greater impoverishment of the masses. All this occurring while westerners bathe in the glory of their collective benevolence to the 'lost continent'. Geldof was even rewarded for his chivalry with a knighthood.

How convenient for Live 8 - an upsurge of western popular goodwill - to occur at the same time as a new scramble for African resources? With the threat from China, Africa's oil and other strategic minerals are even more critical to the continuance of western economic dominance. One just has to consider the significance of Africa's resources in the west's push for peace settlements in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is beneficial to western capital for Africans to be seen as the architects of their own misery. Mugabe, thug as he is, is no worse, and certainly less so, than many other leaders in Africa's post-colonial history, yet his vilification fits into the discourse of corruption and self-inflicted harm and justifies the prevailing view that Africans cannot be trusted with their own destiny. Racism is not often used in explanations of the west's attitude towards Africa, yet it remains a fundamental component of the west's interaction with Africans nowhere is it more visible than in the diaspora. How can one claim to want to save a people, when one is complicit in the marginalization of their relatives? The irony has not been lost on Africans.

Geldof, like Livingstone before him, represents the cultural arm of global capitalism. The inequalities he rallies against are reproduced by the very capitalist system he supports. How many artists, fading or otherwise, would turn down the promotional opportunity of playing to an audience of the magnitude predicted for Live 8? In the cultural as well as in the development industry, African poverty serves as a vehicle for wealth creation.

Those people, whether on the right or the left, who are conversant with the realities of Africa, know that aid will not 'save' the continent and deliver the promised land; that the problem in Africa is not poverty but impoverishment and that Africa needs freedom not redemption. Africa's creativity has to be released through true democracy and not the compromise of 'good governance' and western tutelage.

Livingstone's and Geldof's suppression of African voices, whether deliberately or inadvertently, aids the continued exploitation of the continent. Geldof has the capacity to transcend Livingstone's shortcomings, if only he would listen to Africans and engage with issues of reparations and the politics of truth. He would certainly get more diaspora Africans among his London audience, despite their lack of appreciation for rock music.

After Live 8, when African resources are delivering wealth to western trans-nationals and African people suffer further degradation, be it wars, hunger or political oppression, they are likely to find little external support. After all, a whole generation of western civil society will say, "did they not receive debt relief?" "Are they so incompetent or corrupt that they could not make good use of our bountifulness?" In Africa, people will continue to live and die and a luta continua

* Dr Patricia Daley holds the posts of University lecturer in Human Geography, and Fellow and Tutor in Geography at Jesus College, Oxford. She is an African from Jamaica.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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