Can Mandela woo the West to help Africa?
Some of the world's poorest countries, particularly those in Africa, could have their debt burden cancelled under proposals agreed at a meeting in London over the weekend.
Finance ministers from the wealthiest nations, the G7, say they have agreed to work towards total debt relief of the money owed to international institutions such as the IMF, on a case-by-case basis.
The London meeting was convened to discuss what is being called the Marshall plan for Africa, similar to the US initiative to reconstruct western Europe after the devastation of World War II.
Besides debt relief, the plan seeks to redouble aid to Africa, improve terms of trade for African goods and launch programmes to help the continent meet its Millennium Development goals to reduce poverty.
Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela has come out of his retirement from public life to join the Make Poverty History campaign, a coalition of NGOs lobbying rich nations to keep their promises to help Africa overcome her plight.
The BBC's Africa Live asks: What are the implications of the proposed debt cancellation for Africa? Whose responsibility is it to lift the continent out of its grinding poverty?
Does the West owe it to the continent to help solve its development problems?
Is increasing foreign aid and writing off debt the solution?
This debate, broadcast on Wednesday 9 February at 1630 and 1830GMT, is now closed. You can read a section of your emails below.
Of course poverty in Africa can be beaten... by Africans that is! If all the African experts who fuel western economies go back home, how things would change for the better!
Ngum Ngafor, Manchester, UK
I feel efforts to tackle poverty have failed in the past and will definitely do so in the future. Africa will not be saved by rhetoric and little substance. It is about time we tackle corruption head on and also rewrite trade rules that were created to enhance neocolonialism. Gordon Brown's new approach will just be another miserable attempt to encourage Africans to look to the outside for help that will never come!
M. Wuoi, Sudanese in US
I think what Africa really needs is peace. Without peace it is impossible for infrastructure to develop. The people I have met in the Congo have been hard working and caring people, the country is rich in resources. All they need really is peace, time and support.
Greg Jensen, Otterburne, Canada
Of course poverty in Africa can be beaten: if leaders of Africa stop begging and come to the realisation that nothing good comes easy but through hard work.
William Twumasi, Maryland, USA
All international aid should be tied to a country's transparency and ability to limit the growth in its population numbers. Otherwise any aid given will be funnelled by the politicians and the people will be left with nothing.
Chandru Narayan, USA
Education for all is the best step to achieving poverty reduction. The general citizenry is ignorant of how public funds are spent. If people are well informed they can challenge the government of the day and leaders can show some responsibility towards the poverty reduction programmes.
Matongo Maumbi, Chikuni, Monze, Zambia
You can never defeat poverty if you do not focus on security and justice. In most African nations, rulers and their families are above the law, and this creates frustrations that can lead to wars. We need stability, because stability brings trust and trust brings investment. Investment creates jobs which in turn boost the economy. A healthy economy gives hope to people and poverty becomes history.
Kambale, Goma, Congo (DRC)
The solution to poverty is compulsory and universal education. Education is wealth!
Badmus Abdulwaheed, Leuven, Belgium
As an African, I find it very kind of the developed world to make poverty in Africa a priority. But the West has to take the issue of corruption in Africa more seriously. Let's say the West stops the flight of stolen money to western banks - it probably would make billions available for poverty reduction.
The cancellation of African debts is perfect for growth and economic development. In addition, there should be fair trade terms for African goods to avoid Africa being a donor to the West not another way around.
Nyikole James, Brisbane, Australia, (Sudan)
There is a common saying: "Give a fisherman the net and teach him how to catch fish. Don't give him the fish." It is wishful thinking that Africa can be bailed out through aid. We need to change our mentality.
Geza Mhanya, Lilongwe
Until Africans change their own social and economic culture into one that is far more responsible, family focused, educationally driven and respectful of honest democratic government nothing will change. Africans have the same abilities and intelligence of any race but unless they make the effort to make better cultural choices they will be left behind. Mandela is an exception as black leaders are more interested in seizing power and stealing from their countries to support their extravagant life styles and flee to Europe if any difficulties arise. Africa is a wealthy continent and should be a contributor not an endless drain.
Dave Hand, Toronto, Canada
The cancellation of debt is a great move to help Africa and it's time to close that chapter in Africa's life. What Africa owes is nothing in comparison to what the world owes Africa.
Milton Williams, Virginia, USA.
Foreign aid is a short-term assistance but Africa should not rely on it for the rest of its lifetime. We need the technology to help us develop our own natural resources. Help Africans help themselves.
Dominic Woja Maku, Saskatoon, Canada
For there to be any chance of long term peace and prosperity, rich countries have to approach international relations with more focus on co-operation as opposed to the spirit of ruthless competition encouraged by the market system.
Mr. Drifter, Ottawa, Canada
If the debt relief comes with questions asked and strings attached, then African nations should say 'no'.
Deng A. G. Dekuek, Perth Western Australia/Sudan
Africa has the human and mineral resources needed to propel us from our abysmal statue. What the politicians, professionals and grassroots need is a change of attitude for the better.
Aroun Rashid Deen, New York, USA
What Africa needs is democracy. Key goals like strengthening the rule of law, creating a free press and ending corruption can only be reached if there is no interference from western powers. Everything is down to peace of mind, so one can determine how one should improve one's own life.
Luc Zagbo, London, England
The poor bear the brunt of the effects of the old colonial master and the new independent leadership whose thirst for money can never be quenched. In the interests of the down trodden, Western aid remains critical in Africa but only as long as it is without conditions.
Shame Makoshori, Harare, Zimbabwe
Poverty in Africa can never be fully beaten, but a sincere commitment to the cause from every individual wherever they live would be a good first step. Perhaps the real question to everyone reading this is: what have you done to beat poverty in Africa?
Ultimately it is African countries themselves, through their governments, who should take the pole position in eliminating poverty. To do this they will need to democratise their institutions and initiate sound economic policies. Above all, African countries must emphasise transparency in the conduct of their economic programmes. Corruption is the bane of developmental efforts in Africa, and unless it is eliminated I cannot see how the Mandela initiative or others by Western countries can help.
Abdulai Musa, Lagos, Nigeria
Increasing foreign aid and writing off debt will go a long way in alleviating poverty, but the overall burden rests on African leaders. At least some of the money that would have been used in servicing the debt should be spent on health care, education and infrastructural development. African leaders have to come up with a viable economic plan that will help to uplift their citizens from poverty.
Omorodion Osula, Benin City, Nigeria.
Of course the West owes it to the continent to help solve its developmental problems. If we looked at each other as fellow human beings then there would not be any problem with helping thy neighbour. Let's be rid of discrimination of colour, creed, religion and culture, and be compassionate to those who equally deserve to live a life as it was meant for all.
Yogini Patel, Dallas, TX USA
Africa needs to turns to itself to solve its problems. I am an African living in the USA and I have noticed here that people are proud to be Americans and therefore are willing to give back to society. Africa needs to develop a sense of patriotism amongst its people wherever they are. We need those with economic expertise to give something back in helping shape the destiny of Africa. We need voices of hope in Africa who will encourage others to rebuild the broken walls. The beggar mentality must be curbed - after all you can only reap a harvest out of what you sow. If you keep on asking others for help, then you are not sowing anything and there is nothing for you to reap but poverty. More aid only helps to encourage dependency and creates a vicious circle.
Rosemary Mwenja, US
Our region needs more than just aid. We need to work on the root causes of poverty, e.g. corrupt governments and organisations like the IMF and World bank dictating how we should run our countries. We need the aid but please let's explore the root of the problem.
The westerners are chairing this issue of poverty alleviation because they are looking for something more valuable in exchange - crude oil. Africans can help themselves if they want to. African governments bear the prime responsibility and have all that it take to improve the lives of their own citizens.
Bright Nnanna, Abuja-Nigeria.
Poverty in Africa helps our economies in the West. Because of low wages in various countries in Africa, we are able to enjoy the lifestyles that we do. If Africa actually wanted to rise above the poverty level, it should do something about it. However, I feel that they have no real desire to make a change in their lives.
Chris, Cupertino, USA
African leaders should be held accountable for developing the lot of their people. The massive corruption that permeates most African governments is the prime reason for under-development in most African countries. Although the West should give some debt relief to African nations, stipulations should be put in place that the resulting financial outcome should be used to provide social services, schools, roads, hospitals, etc. Otherwise, greedy leaders will continue to live in luxury while the masses continue to suffer.
George Freeman, Liberian in Baltimore, USA
The world can give aid to Africa, but it will be in vain if trade barriers remain in place. If trade terms are improved, then aid will be used to facilitate economic activity in Africa. Money saved from cancelled debts will also be used to stimulate economic growth. Aid alone will be meaningless as it won't help in the long run.
I do commend the British prime minister and chancellor for their hard work on debt relief. I hope the G8 group countries will set up a way to over see and control how the money is invested. It is now up to Africans to work hard for their own people's safety and prosperity!
Haile Mengistu, Kalamazoo, MI, USA
Without any form of equivocation, poverty can be beaten. African countries are poverty-stricken neither by default nor by design, but by ignoble acts of our leaders. The West, indirectly, owes it to the continent to help solve its development problems because it has gone beyond the ability of the system we have in place to handle.
Ekundayo Shittu, Massachusetts, USA
I do not think increasing foreign aid and writing off debt will have the magic to eliminate poverty. To me, that is tantamount to treating the symptom of a disease and not the cause. We all know what causes poverty: corruption and bad governance. Aid has only served to perpetuate dependence and fiscal irresponsibility!
Benjamin, Minnesota, USA
Should the West watch with folded arms as Africa wrestles with poverty? I resoundingly answer 'no' to this, because the western world has dipped her hands in the 'honeycomb' of African resources for so long. With the intensified pace of globalisation, poverty in any part of the world affects the entire human race.
Kiarie Simon, Guildford, UK
Poverty is solved by creating jobs not giving aid. If the developed world doesn't open its markets and end unfair subsidies, then I can't see how we can reduce poverty. Africa only needs aid or loans to industrialise.
We Africans have to change our mentality. We all should come together as one people with one voice and stop the tribalism that is causing the problems. Our leaders should stop being selfish and listen to the people who they are serving.
A. Benjamin, New Zealand
Aid to Africa is indeed necessary to secure responsible and accountable government, but above all we need the skills to enable African farmers to feed themselves. We have to start with the basics and that is a greater awareness of the need for skills training and rural infrastructure. Populist talk does not put porridge on the table.
Reg Weiss, PAARL, South Africa
What poverty? There's probably enough corruption money lying in banks to solve Africa's problems.
John Gill, CapeTown - South Africa
Poverty can be beaten, but it will take more than aid and writing off debts. It will take fighting corruption and there is also the AIDS crisis to be solved.
Chris, Bucharest, Romania
Community participation should be encouraged when aid is given. It gives a sense of belonging and people are unlikely to embezzle funds for projects that is for the good of their communities. Transparency and the rule of law will create an enabling environment for foreign investment. When taxes are used for the purpose they are meant, the people will be motivated to pay them. The citizens for their part need to eschew ethnic violence and other disruptive tendencies that keep investors away from their shores.
Abdu Opaluwa, Plymouth, UK
African leaders ask for debt relief for their own interests and not for the interests of their citizens. That's why donors are reluctant to cut off the debt because they are not sure whether the saved monies will go to the intended projects.
Mazuba Mwiinga, Chikuni, Zambia
It is the responsibility of African governments to improve the lives of their citizens by using the taxes paid as is done in the western world
Joan Kakonge, Leeds, UK
I was at the rally and I am a pupil at Lourdes secondary school in Glasgow. I got to meet Mr Mandela and I spoke on stage at the campaign in front of all the people. The reason that I am sending this is to let you know that we are all willing to help even in the smallest way. I will be at the G8 summit in July.
Lauren Mccann , Glasgow Scotland
If everyone donated to African poverty like they donated to the Tsunami relief then we could definitely put a dent in the massive problem.
Alice Petty, Palo Alto, California, USA
Who is getting all this aid or who is accountable for it apart from the legislators? Mr Mandela seems to be serious with this debt relief concept, but if you borrow or get free aid and the money is not put to good use, how can writing off debts overcome poverty? Of course a temporal relief may be there for the receivers, but how about the common man or woman in the remotest part of the country who does not even know that there is such a thing like live aid and debt relief? If Mr Mandela is ready to knock on the door of each government house or office to find out how monies have been utilised, then probably we can be assured of development, otherwise it is a mare sing song or a wild goose chase. As for the West owing it to the African continent to solve some of its problems caused by herself and the West, well, it is just a matter of morality and principle that both parties clear their names by doing that which is required of them.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Kitwe Zambia/Central Africa