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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
UN: Africa 'can meet MDGs'
Bono in Ghana
Bono has said Africa is "100 years" away from meeting the MDGs
The new man in charge of implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Salil Shetty, has told the BBC that Africa has every chance of meeting the 2015 deadline - if leaders are pressured to do so.

Mr Shetty took charge of the goals - including dramatically cutting poverty and child mortality - on Tuesday.

Last month pro-Africa campaigner Bono told the BBC that Africa was "100 years" away from meeting the MDGs.

But Mr Shetty said that he was greatly encouraged by developments in African countries so far.

"It feels incredibly positive," Mr Shetty told BBC World Service's Africa Live! programme.

"I have met the national Millennium campaign people in Kenya... they are already starting to produce a national report to see how well the Kenyans are able to hold their government to account."

Achievements

Mr Shetty said a number of other African countries were making individual targets - and this proved the MDGs could be achieved.

"We also have real examples from the neighbouring countries. Uganda has been able to reverse the HIV/Aids infection rate," he pointed out.

Kofi Annan
If Africa was to achieve just half of those goals by 2015 it would be a great start
Nicholas Ngugi, Kenyan living in USA

"Botswana has done phenomenally well in terms of education; Ghana has reduced hunger levels. So it's doable."

But Mr Shetty placed great importance on the role of people themselves in dragging the continent out of the various crises the MDGs are targeting.

"The goals are going to be achieved only if the African people want them to be achieved," he said.

"Really, that's what the Millennium campaign is about.

"The people of Africa will have to hold their leaders to account for the promises they've made - sometimes a bit rashly."

He placed emphasis on the need to pressure governments who had committed to the MDGs to ensure Africa did not continue to fall behind the rest of the world.

"The fact of the matter is that the goals can be achieved if we put our energies behind it," he stressed.

"It's not that they can't be achieved - it's affordable, they're realistic and doable. But the governments have to be held to account."

'No magic wand'

However, Mr Shetty added that the MDGs were not an all-embracing solution to Africa's problems.

"I don't think that anything is going to happen by signing a declaration," he said.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair highlighted his commitment to debt relief in a key speech
"I hope what the goals and the declaration are going to do is to bring matters into focus and create enough public debate.

"The goals are not a magic wand.

"What they are going to do is provide a platform for advocacy, for campaigning, and to hold the government to account."

But he also reiterated the importance of seeing the goals implemented.

"In some other places it might be a set of aspirations, but I think in the case of Africa it's the difference between life and death.

"It's as stark as that because millions of Africans die every year. These are women, these are children, these are people living with Aids.

"That's really what the goals are about."

And he called on richer Western nations to increase aid and reduce the demands of debt repayments.

"If you take the so-called War On Terror, $100bn was spent in a matter of weeks in Iraq," he pointed out.

"What Africa needs is just about $50bn extra to make a big difference on all the goals."



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