Report: Rich nations failing Africa

G8 panel says millions face poverty since pledge to double aid not being kept.

    Food shortages are made worse by climate change and ongoing conflicts, the report said [AFP]

    The Africa progress panel is chaired by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general and includes Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, Michel Camdessus, the former International Monetary Fund chief and Bob Geldof, a leading anti-poverty campaigner.
    Limited success
    The report, Africa's Development: Promises and Prospects, said debt relief agreed at the 2005 summit had been significant because poor countries had increased spending on health and education, over and above the amount of relief.

    "It may not be easy to overcome these problems, but the world has a stake in realising the African continent's huge potential to thrive"

    Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general

    But unless rising food prices were halted and reversed, there would be a significant increase in hunger, malnutrition, and infant and child mortality in Africa.
    "The food crisis is a major setback which is creating a major humanitarian emergency," the report said.
    "In the immediate term, the supply of food to the world's most vulnerable citizens must be increased by raising the level of financial assistance."
    The G8 did however deliver successfully in some areas, Tania Page, Al Jazeera's correspondent said.
    "Foreign investment is increasing, the number of people living in poverty has levelled off, and $10bn is in the bank to spend on fighting disease.
    "But while there has been some success, overall the G8 has failed to deliver," she said.
    "The report issues a stark warning... that failure to come up with the cash could actually reverse all the economic progress that has been made, pushing 100 million Africans into abject poverty."
    Innovative funding urged
    The G8 meets next month in Japan and steps to halt the surge in oil and food prices will be high on the agenda, partly because they are contributing to an economic slowdown in rich nations and a backlash from disgruntled voters.


    Annan fights for Africa's global influence

    But the Africa progress panel said it was increasingly clear the pressure on government finances in rich countries meant they would not meet their aid pledges to Africa.
    It said they should come up with innovative funding mechanisms for increased aid, such as taxes on foreign exchange trades, carbon taxes, levies on air travel and freight transport, or a global lottery.
    The report said there was a critical need for a rethink of trade policies to give Africans more access to markets and fair trading rules so they could generate enough income to buy food.
    It said the market for fertilisers should be liberalised as part of multilateral trade talks so that agricultural output could be boosted worldwide.
    Developed nations should review subsidies for biofuels as the growth of crops as an energy source may be hurting food production and contributing to global food price rises.
    Also, with climate change likely to hurt food production in Africa more severely than other parts of the world, rich nations should spend more on renewable energy sources on the continent.
    "It may not be easy to overcome these problems, but the world has a stake in realising the African continent's huge potential to thrive," Annan wrote in a preface to the report.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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