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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 16:16 GMT
Financiers make Africa aid appeal
World Bank President James Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler
World Bank's James Wolfensohn and IMF chief Horst Koehler
Leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have launched an impassioned appeal for more aid to Africa.


It is simply unacceptable that while the developed world enjoys unprecedented prosperity, one in seven children will die before his or her fifth birthday

James Wolfensohn and Horst Koehler
James Wolfensohn of the World Bank and IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler said a new generation of African leaders committed to change should have international support.

They wrote in a joint article in the International Herald Tribune that without further debt relief and external finance, African leaders would not be able to bring about the reforms they are now committed to.

The appeal follows a recent tour of the African continent by Mr Wolfensohn and Mr Koehler.

'New emphasis'

The two financiers said they had been "deeply impressed" by new leaders in the continent.


We were deeply impressed by a new spirit of leadership and detemination, a recognition that Africa's future lies in its own hands

But they said that "exceptional efforts" would be required to restore peace and tackle the spread of diseases like Aids, malaria and tuberculosis.

Development aid to Africa had decreased from $32 per head in 1990 to $19 in 1998, and almost half of all Africans were living on less than $1 a day, the article said.

Africa's leaders will not be able to make progress fast enough to make a real difference unless further debt relief and external financing is announced, it added.

"The international community must rise to the challenge of helping Africa," the article said.

"It is simply unacceptable that while the developed world enjoys unprecedented prosperity, one in seven children will die before his or her fifth birthday."

Aid request

Mr Wolfensohn and Mr Koehler called for an extension of free market access to industrial countries' markets and a reduction of their agricultural subsidies.


And they said current levels of foreign aid by rich countries should increase from the current 0.24% of GDP to the UN target of 0.7%. This would increase aid by $100bn a year.

The article cited last year's initiative that brought $34m in debt relief to 22 countries and announced more action, including the extension of debt relief to countries emerging from civil conflict.

The two organisations would continue to pledge funds to fight Aids, cut assistance to aggressor countries and respond to requests for technical assistance and training.

Listeners

During their tour of Africa, Mr Wolfensohn and Mr Koehler faced criticism that economic conditions imposed by them would undermine African domestic economies.

But the two organisations have been keen to demonstrate that they are changing their approach and aim to listen rather than dictate.

Leading aid organisations have welcomed the change, but argue that the IMF and World Bank's basic framework policy of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation remains unchanged.

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Business
IMF policy comes under fire
19 Sep 00 | Europe
Prague braces for IMF protests
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