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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 11:57 GMT
Africa report demands aid boost

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Democratic elections are becoming more common in Africa
The UK-led Commission for Africa has urged wealthy nations to double their aid to the continent, raising it by 30bn ($50bn) a year over 10 years.

African leaders need to root out corruption and promote good governance, the commission's final report says.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said reducing poverty in Africa was "the fundamental challenge of our generation".

In an impassioned plea, rock star Bob Geldof urged rich countries to "get real" or be shamed forever.

Hopefully, the wish list can be translated into genuine action

"Africa can change for the better and the report shows how," Mr Blair said at a news conference in London to launch the report.

"There can be no excuse, no defence, no justification for the plight of millions of our fellow beings in Africa today," he said.

He set up the commission, which includes several African leaders and singer Bob Geldof, in February 2004 and promised to change UK policy to follow the report's recommendations.

'Dysfunctional relationship'

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who launched the report in Ethiopia, said it represented "a moment of awakening for Africa."

He said it was now up to the people of Africa, along with those in the developed world, to make sure the conclusions were implemented.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bob Geldof

Geldof told the BBC that the difference between this and previous reports on how to end poverty was the level of political commitment from those in power in the world's richest countries.

"It redefines the dysfunctional relationship between the developed world and Africa," he said.

He said putting the report's recommendations into practice would cost the citizen of every rich country half a stick of chewing gum each day.

But he said the key was ending misrule in Africa.

He congratulated Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika, whose fight against corruption led to him leaving the ruling party, but urged Uganda's Yoweri Museveni to stop his attempts to stay in power for life.

Apart from increasing aid and fighting corruption, the other key recommendations of the 400-page report are:

  • Cancel debts
  • Spend more on health, especially Aids
  • Provide free primary schools
  • West should fund African peacekeeping
  • West should return money stolen by corrupt officials
  • West should stop arms sales to conflict zones

It also calls for more urgent action on trade-distorting export subsidies paid to farmers in the developed world, to allow a level playing field.

Not radical

The BBC's developing world correspondent David Loyn says that like so much in the report, action on subsidies will demand a substantial change in US policy.

The developed world has a moral duty to assist Africa
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US spending on development is the lowest, considering the size of its economy, with no plans to fulfil a 30-year-old promise to commit 0.7% of GDP to development funding.

Mr Blair is hoping to use the impetus of the report to secure real change when the leaders of the most industrialised nations, the G7, meet at Gleneagles in Scotland in July.

Since the report was leaked last week, some aid agencies have broadly welcomed the thrust of the changes demanded, while others have criticised it for not being radical enough.

ActionAid said the Gleneagles meeting will be a test of whether the West really is committed to reducing poverty in Africa.


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