G8’s level of aid for Africa ‘disgraceful’, says Concern


Irish aid agency Concern today dismissed the Group of Eight industrialised nations’ (G8) proposed aid plan for Africa as ‘disgraceful’.

The money is there, but the political will is not
Concern spokesman Mr Macdara Doyle

Last-ditch attempts by Britain and Canada to persuade the US and Japan to designate $6 billion (€5.9 billion) of aid for Africa, as part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), met with only partial success yesterday.

In a joint communiqué, the Group of Eight nations said that they could spend half of the aid package agreed earlier this year on Africa.

"We see it as disgraceful," said Concern spokesman Mr Macdara Doyle. "It is recycled promises. This was a very good opportunity to make a statement of good intention and they chose to ignore it."

However, some African leaders, including South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki and Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria, have welcomed the G8 move.

"They can’t really say any different," said Mr Doyle. "This is Mbeki’s baby...

"One of his themes [when he became South Africa’s President] was an African renaissance. He envisaged some sort of Marshall Plan for Africa.

"This is what Concern said two years ago was needed. It hasn’t materialised. The response has been a disgrace."

Mr Doyle added that the funds being given to Russia showed that "the money is there, but the political will is not".

The $20 billion earmarked for Russia is to help it dismantle weapons of mass destruction and prevent extremist groups getting hold of raw materials to build a nuclear bomb.

Terrorism has long been a topic at the annual summits attended by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US but the events of September 11th created a new sense of urgency.

"The attacks of September 11th demonstrated that terrorists are prepared to use any means to cause terror or inflict appalling casualties on innocent people," the G8 said in its statement.

Unlike recent gatherings of world leaders, protests had little impact on proceedings. Small protest groups, arguing that rich countries' policies hurt the poor, demonstrated in Canada's oil capital Calgary, the nearest city some 90 km from the summit site.

That included a mud-in, with mud-smeared participants who complained the G8 did not serve the planet, a die-in that looked more like a mass sunbathing session, and a naked protest, where demonstrators stripped to the buff to complain about labour policies at international clothing chain The Gap.

The only casualty was a Kananaskis bear, shot by a sharpshooter when it got too close to the proceedings.

Additional reporting