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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July 2005, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
African press looks to G8
African press graphic

Saturday's worldwide series of Live 8 concerts are greeted enthusiastically by Sunday papers in South Africa, while throughout the continent, commentators look ahead to this week's G8 meeting.

Johannesburg's Sunday Times was impressed by the worldwide extravaganza, labelling the concerts "The Gr8est Show on Earth".

"They were old songs, but they were good ones," says the paper, noting in particular how Sir Paul McCartney and U2 joined forces to sing The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Nelson Mandela outshone them all
Mail and Guardian

"It was a canny choice. Its opening line, 'It was 20 years ago today', harked back to Live Aid, the historic concert in July 1985 when Geldof and fellow musician Midge Ure turned Wembley Stadium into the world's largest begging bowl."

Another South African paper, the Mail and Guardian, hails a certain local hero's performance at the Johannesburg concert.

"Bono effortlessly worked the crowd. Half a globe away, Bjork strutted the stage. Bill Gates was cheered like a rock star. And on the continent that inspired the unprecedented Live 8 extravaganza, Nelson Mandela outshone them all," the paper says.

Trade not aid?

The focus of Live 8, the G8 summit in Gleneagles, has begun to generate press comment from further afield on the continent, revealing mixed feelings.

Kenya's Daily Nation criticises what it sees as the summit's focus on increased aid and debt relief.

Africa needs to begin to seriously look for its own home-grown solutions to poverty
Daily Nation

"Why should more aid suddenly work miracles, when Africa has received more aid per head in the past than any other region, and still has little to show for it?" the paper says.

In fact, it adds, the world's entire approach to Africa's poverty needs rethinking.

"The poor would certainly benefit from the removal of tariff barriers, in particular the EU's unfair system of farm subsidies. However, Africa needs to begin to seriously look for its own home-grown solutions to poverty and the debt problem."

A commentary in the Mail and Guardian is also sceptical, and criticises the conditions attached to debt relief.

"The G8's plan for saving Africa is a little better than an extortion racket," it complains.

But South Africa's Business Day says aid "always will be a tool of foreign policy" and admonishes African states for what it calls a "lack of gratitude".

The G8 leaders, it says, "are genuinely trying to do the right thing" for African poverty. "Being critical... is just so much nit-picking."

'Window of opportunity'

Writing in Nigeria's This Day, Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, believes the summit comes at an "historic moment of opportunity for Africa".

"Africa is showing signs of hope that need to be grasped. There are more elected governments and fewer civil wars. A number of countries have enviable growth rates," he says.

The world has had enough of lip service to Africa's plight
The Standard

Mr Tutu also praises the 100% debt cancellation for the world's poorest countries already decided, but warns that more still needs to be done, in particular on fair trade and tackling corruption.

"We must... ensure that this window of opportunity does not become one more vanishing mirage," he says.

Kenya's The Standard agrees, arguing that fine words at the G8 summit will not be enough.

"The message that needs to reach them is that the world has had enough of lip service to Africa's plight and that it is now time for action," the paper says.

Spectre of corruption

In Angola, Angolense says the country has many obstacles to overcome before it is likely to attract aid, listing "corruption, poor management, and lack of transparency".

Sierra Leone's The Exclusive also acknowledges the role of corruption in keeping Sierra Leone from qualifying for debt relief, but praises UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for fighting "hard".

"Try hard as Tony Blair did, the G8 countries did not include Sierra Leone... Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown fought very hard to sell the case of this country... because Sierra Leone is just coming out of a devastating decade-long civil war.

"Certainly we did not qualify because of the prevailing corruption in governmental circles."

However, The Exclusive says "Sierra Leone is blessed" to be a British "overseas territory" at a time when Britain chairs the G8 and holds the EU presidency.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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