Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Germany puts African poverty on front burner

BERLIN, GERMANY (Reuters) -- African poverty has climbed to the top of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's agenda for a Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Heiligendamm next month amid concern pledges to help the continent remain unfulfilled.

The summit meeting will be held June 6-8 in the Baltic coast city.

The G-8 is composed of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Merkel's agenda harks back to the partnership forged in Kananaskis, Canada, in 2002. At that time, the Africa Action Plan was adopted, which set out specific commitments in support of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Five founder members of the NEPAD Group -- Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa -- will attend the June summit as will African Union president Ghana.

At their meeting in Gleneagles, Britain, in 2005, the G-8 agreed to a Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) that envisioned totally canceling debts.

The heads of state also agreed on a doubling of development aid by 2010. This pledge will be reiterated amid claims from aid organizations that some G-8 nations are lagging far behind on their commitments.

In addition to existing programs designed to cut indebtedness and boost financial aid, Merkel's agenda includes strengthening dialogue with African nations.

Her government wants to focus on four main focal points: good governance, sustainable investment, peace and security and a strengthening of the health system. The latter includes measures to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Germany spent $10.35 billion in 2006 on developmental cooperation compared with $10.08 billion the year earlier. The United States reduced its payments in the same period by more than 20 percent to $22.74 billion.

Link to Germany puts African poverty on front burner - CNN.com