Thursday, April 05, 2007

Africa aid stalls despite G8 pledge

Aid to Africa stalled last year and overall aid spending fell, jeopardising the Group of Eight industrial nations' commitment to double assistance to the continent and add $50bn a year to global aid by 2010.

At the G8 summit in Gleneagles in 2005, Tony Blair, UK prime minister, extracted pledges from heads of government to spend $50bn more each year to 2010 on aid, with half the rise going to sub-­Saharan Africa.

But on Tuesday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that - excluding one-off debt relief to Nigeria – African aid from rich countries was static in 2006.

Richard Manning, chair of the OECD"s development assistance committee, said: "The promises will not be credible unless we begin to see substantial rises in 2007 and 2008."

The OECD said overall aid totalled $103.9bn in 2006, a 5.1 per cent fall in real terms. This was exaggerated by one-off relief to Iraq and Nigeria, which boosted the 2005 total and began to drop out of the calculation in 2006. But even excluding such relief, overall assistance fell by 1.8 per cent.

Max Lawson, policy adviser at the development campaign Ox­fam, said: "The UK’s own aid performance is good but in terms of the prime minister’s legacy, the overall picture looks a lot weaker than it did at Gleneagles."

The OECD’s findings will be keenly felt by Mr Blair and his likely successor Gordon Brown, the chancellor, who made strenuous efforts to secure meaningful commitments at Gleneagles.

The UK became the world’s second largest donor, increasing underlying aid by nearly 22 per cent in 2006. But although the EU countries increased aid spending by 5.7 per cent, it remained short of the huge rises needed to fulfil the Gleneagles commitments. Japanese and US aid fell heavily.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said she was unaware of any specific commitments made at Gleneagles, and did not return requests for further comment.

Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to the UN secretary general and head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said: "By design, to avoid accountability, the G8 refused to put forward clear and predictable year-by-year commitments towards 2010." African countries could not plan investments on the basis of aid they were uncertain would arrive, he said. FT

Link to The Statesman : Business : Africa aid stalls despite G8 pledge