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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 March, 2005, 00:27 GMT
Africa report findings welcomed

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Democratic elections are becoming more common in Africa
African leaders have offered a cautious welcome to the findings of the UK-led Commission for Africa, which urges a huge increase in aid donations.

It also says African leaders must end corruption and improve governance.

Wealthy nations are asked to double aid to the continent, adding 30bn ($50bn) a year over 10 years.

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

And in an impassioned plea, rock star and aid campaigner 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 Mr Geldof, in February 2004 and promised to change UK policy to follow the report's recommendations.

Adrian Lovett, of anti-poverty group Oxfam, said the report could be a "rallying call for a generation" but could easily end up gathering dust.

"It's now up to world leaders to make that choice," he said.

"In the long term, history will judge this report not just by its content but by its capacity to deliver genuine change."

'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

But South African President Thabo Mbeki warned: "It must translate not into a lot of paper, but into a firm, serious programme of action."

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.

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

  • Cancellation of debt

  • Increased spending on health, particularly Aids

  • Provision of free primary schools

  • Western funding for African peacekeeping

  • Western drive to return money stolen by corrupt officials

  • An end to Western arms sales to conflict zones

The developed world has a moral duty to assist Africa
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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.

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.




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