US Treasury chief joins Bono on aid mission

 

The US Treasury Secretary Mr Paul O'Neill, an aid skeptic joined U2 singer Bono on a trip to Africa today to find ways to help the world's poorest continent.

Bono has set out to show Mr O'Neill that aid works and Africa needs a lot more of it.

The first stop of the four-country tour is Ghana, whose reputation as a darling of the West was reinforced by a peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box in 2000. He will also visit South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia.

In Ghana, Mr O'Neill will meet President Mr John Kufuor, who since taking office has embarked on a programme of economic reforms for his West African nation.

But the bulk of his four-day visit will focus on aid projects, small local ventures and meetings with non-governmental organisation and civic groups.

Mr O'Neill will travel to Tamale, in northern Ghana, to look at living conditions away from the capital Accra and visit a hospital treating people suffering from AIDS and other viruses.

The financial czar, known for his view that aid to developing nations is often a waste of money, has vowed to listen rather than preach.

He is not expected to make any specific pledge about spending during the trip but there is little doubt that what he sees will influence the way in which a proposed new $5 billion-a-year US foreign aid package is spent.

"It's very important that the world have a deeper understanding...of the need for results-accomplishing economic assistance," Mr O'Neill told reporters in Washington ahead of thetrip.