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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 01:09 GMT 02:09 UK
Africa stages development forum
By Alex Last
BBC News, Abuja

A woman with her child at a feeding station in Niger. File photo
The G8 group has pledged to double aid to Africa by 2010
An international conference on financing development in Africa has opened in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

It is looking at ways of implementing the Millennium Development Goals without damaging local economies.

Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said international commitments to development had not been matched by actions on the ground.

Chancellor Gordon Brown will represent the UK and Irish rock star and campaigner Bono is also attending.

African initiative

The two-day meeting is chiefly a gathering of African finance ministers and international partners to discuss how to put development into practise.

For years governments, aid agencies and activists have reiterated the need for more development in Africa.

Targets to reduce poverty, improve health care and education have been enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals.

The G8 group of industrialised nations have said they will double aid to Africa by 2010.

But putting these pledges into practise has proved more difficult.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, said commitments to development now need to be turned into action.

For all this to happen, projects need to be planned, co-ordinated and, most importantly, financed.

So this conference is aimed at coming up with ways of doing just that.

With the prospect of more aid, one of the key issues here is how governments should handle the money to make sure it does not distort local economies.

There have been conferences like this before.

The hosts say this is different because it is an African initiative.

The real question is how long it will be before all the fine words are actually put into practice.

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