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G8 urged to honour Africa pledges

Latest update : 2008-07-07

African leaders have urged the G8 nations to put their money where their mouth is – and deliver on past promises made to Africa. The leaders also spoke of action against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe – without agreeing on what to do.

Watch our Top Story: 'Can the G8 make a difference?'


African leaders on Monday asked the Group of Eight industrialised nations to honour their past commitments to the continent, and warned that rising food and oil prices are an urgent threat.


"Some African leaders just wanted to emphasise that while appreciating G8 leaders' commitment to help Africa in past G8 summits, they just wanted to point that they would like to see these commitments fully implemented," said Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama outside the closed-door session, being held on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.


At the G8’s 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the group pledged to double their aid to Africa to a total of $25 billion a year by 2010. But UN and African Union figures indicate that less than a quarter of the new funds have been provided. “They’re way behind. Africa is feeling abandoned,” said FRANCE 24’s Japan correspondent Nathalie Tourret.


At a press conference on the sidelines of the summit, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged member nations to "implement what they have committed to in Gleneagles by providing necessary funds."


"The world faces three simultaneous crises,” Ban said, “a food crisis, a climate crisis and a development crisis. The three crises are deeply interconnected and need to be addressed as such."


Leaders of the G8 nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and the United States – plus 15 other nations meet from Monday to Wednesday for a summit in the resort town of Toyako on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s islands.


Also in attendance is European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who announced before the G8 Monday that the European Union will channel 1 billion euros in unused European farm subsidies to African farmers.


Zimbabwe election condemned, but no agreement on sanctions


G8 leaders also pushed for action on Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe secured a sixth term last month in a widely condemned election in which his only rival dropped out, citing the violent repression of his supporters.


"I care deeply about the people of Zimbabwe. I am extremely disappointed in the election, which I labelled a sham election," Bush said after meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the head of the African Union.


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters there is “growing support” for stronger sanctions against Mugabe’s government. But Dan Price, Bush’s assistant for international economic

affairs, said the leaders at the summit had not reached an agreement on sanctions. “Not all leaders are there yet," Price said. “It is fair to say that not all African leaders are in a position to support sanctions at this time."


G8: Do we need it?


The summit has been precipitated by sharp criticism from analysts and activists alike, who question the G8’s effectiveness in tackling global issues.


Even entertainers are trying to raise public awareness of their criticisms aimed at the G8. In an interview with FRANCE 24, rock star and anti-poverty activist Bono said of the G8, “Is this a joke? That you can stand in a photograph, with your arms around other statesmen, and say, ‘Yes, we make a promise to the world’s poor that we will increase aid to Africa…’ and then walk away…?”


This skepticism gives rise to the question as to whether G8 summits are all talk, or whether they lead to the implementation of policy changes.


Yale political science professor Jolyon Holworth says the group’s effectiveness differs for each issue. For example, he does not see the G8 as resolving the problem of escalating petrol prices. “The markets determine the price of oil,” he said on FRANCE 24’s Top Story. “There’s not much the G8 or anyone can do about it.”


Holworth also believes that nations’ individual concerns can overshadow their G8 promises, such as those regarding aid to Africa. He explained, “Because of the world economic crisis, some nations are backpedalling [on their Africa pledges] to solve their own short-term economic crises.”


So what good is the G8 if nations are delinquent? For Holworth, “One of the benefits is that it creates peer pressure for member nations to keep their promises.”


Date created : 2008-07-07