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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Africa demands swift G8 action
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo with G8 leaders
African leaders accepted the G8 response
African leaders have welcomed an action plan promising aid, debt relief, medical help and military intervention from the world's richest nations to the poorest.

They're offering peanuts to Africa - and repackaged peanuts at that

Phil Twyford of Oxfam
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is attending the summit, described the plan as a "very, very good beginning", but said speed was needed to implement the decisions taken.

In sharp contrast, aid agencies denounced the summit as long on advice and short on help.

The leaders of the G8 nations signed an agreement with four African heads of state on Thursday to promote economic and political development which they said would herald a new dawn.

'Genuine partnership'

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair declared the G8 plan - developed in response to an African initiative called the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) - was "not old-fashioned aid... [but] a genuine partnership for the renewal of Africa".

We need, all of us, to move with speed to implement these decisions that have been taken.

Thabo Mbeki

Mr Mbeki told the BBC the level of engagement between the G8 and Africa was unprecedented.

"There's never been an engagement of this kind before," he said. "Not between Africa and G8, where we would sit together with them having agreed to the priorities that we have decided as African countries."

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo who helped to create the Nepad initiative which promises reform in return for aid, trade and help in resolving conflicts, was more sanguine, though he said he was satisfied.

"Of course, there is nothing that is human that can be regarded as perfect," he said.

Phil Twyford, Oxfam's international advocacy director, was blunt: "They're offering peanuts to Africa - and repackaged peanuts at that.

"The thing that is most disappointing is that the leaders have spent the last year talking up this event as the moment they were going to deliver for Africa."

Launch new window : An unequal world
In pictures: Global poverty statistics

The G8 Africa Action Plan promises benefits for African countries "whose performance reflects the Nepad commitments".

The plan's main points are:

  • An agreement to develop a peacekeeping force in Africa.

  • A promise to get rid of polio in Africa by 2005.

  • A commitment to improve global market access for African exports by tackling trade barriers and farm subsidies by 2005.

  • An offer to work towards spending half or more of the G8's annual new development aid - about $6bn - on African nations that govern justly.

    On the first day of the summit, G8 leaders agreed to increase debt relief for poorest countries by $1bn, hoping the money "saved" could be spent on health and education.

    'Hot air'

    However, aid agencies said the relief programme would barely make up for the fall in commodity prices such as coffee and cotton on which many developing nations' economies are reliant.

    Njoki Njoroge Njehu, director of the Washington-based 50 Years is Enough debt-relief organisation said: "There's nothing new here."

    James Orbinski, a former president of the medical relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, was also disappointed that only $580m had been promised towards a $10bn UN fund to treat and prevent Aids, malaria and tuberculosis.

    "The global fund is starting to very much look like a wrinkled party balloon that didn't quite get off the ground," he said.

    "The $580m or 5% [of the plan] is quite disappointing hot air."

    Also at the summit:

  • It was announced that Russia would host the 2006 G8 Summit, by which time it would have become a full member, a move seen as a boost for President Vladimir Putin.

    President Vladimir Putin of Russia
    Russia will host the 2006 G8 summit

  • The leaders agreed to a set of "co-operative" actions to promote greater security of land, sea and air transport" including strengthening cockpit doors, installing automatic identification systems on ships and improving global container shipping security.

  • An agreement was reached for a $20bn package over 10 years to dismantle Russia's stockpiles of military plutonium and protect them from terrorists.

  • Leaders said they were concerned at the prospects for global financial markets in the wake of another accounting scandal hitting a US giant - this time telecom giant WorldCom.

    The BBC's Ian Pannell:
    "The African leaders are leaving Canada with little of the cash they came here for"
    South African President Thabo Mbeki
    "Commitment stays strong"
    Debt relief campaigner Bob Geldof
    "It's all unravelled into this meaningless conference"

    Key stories

    Aid debate

    Africa's future





    See also:

    28 Jun 02 | Business
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