[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 9 July, 2005, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
African head defends G8 agreement
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
Mr Obasanjo has launched an anti-corruption drive in Nigeria
A key African leader has praised the decision by G8 nations to boost aid to poorer countries by $50bn (28.8bn).

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the African Union, said the summit was a success and African issues were being tackled "realistically".

Africa must respond by promoting good governance, democracy, human rights and tackle corruption, he told the BBC.

Aid agencies have criticised the deal, which also pledges debt relief for Africa's 18 poorest nations.

As well as increasing aid, G8 leaders made a commitment to work towards cutting subsidies and trade tariffs.

On climate change, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said an agreement had always been unlikely, but that the US now accepted global warming was an issue.

'Right path'

Speaking to the BBC after the conclusion of the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, Mr Obasanjo described the aid deal as a "breakthrough".

World leaders gather as the G8 summit in Gleneagles ends

"The G8 leaders are now saying to African leaders, 'yes', if you do your side of the deal we will do our side of the deal.

"We are on the right path, but we still have a long way to go," he added.

Mr Obasanjo highlighted his own recent anti-corruption drive in Nigeria as an example of the improved governance he insists Africa needs to show to earn the respect of the international community.

The Nigerian president's views were not universally echoed.

"The people have roared but the G8 has whispered," said Kumi Naidoo, chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty.


Felix Mutati, Zambia's deputy finance minister, lamented the lack of a fuller deal on trade reform.

"What we need most is fair trade because our farmers cannot compete with farmers in the West.

"The whole issue of trade hinges on farm subsidies and the quicker this is resolved the better."

Campaigners praise

Campaigners Bob Geldof and U2 singer Bono both praised the deal, saying the Gleneagles summit would help save millions of lives.

Stalemate on climate change as US position barely budges
Britain is to host a 1 November meeting on climate change, to assess progress
G8 nations agree to full debt cancellation for 18 countries, while African countries call for debt relief for all Africa
EU members pledge to reach a collective aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015
The G8 agrees a $50bn (28.8bn) boost to aid
A 'signal' for a new deal on trade
Universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010
G8 commits to training 20,000 peacekeepers for Africa
African leaders to commit to democracy and good governance

"Never before have so many people forced a change of policy onto a global agenda. If anyone had said eight weeks ago will we get a doubling of aid, will we get a deal on debt, people would have said 'no'," Mr Geldof said.

"600,000 Africans, mostly children, will remember this G8 summit at Gleneagles because they will be around to remember this summit, and they wouldn't have otherwise," said Bono.

There was agreement on training African peacekeepers and the wider distribution of anti-Aids drugs.

Most trade issues were deferred until discussion in Hong Kong later this year, when an end to agricultural subsidies will be discussed again.

In addition, an investment package of $3bn was agreed for the Palestinian Authority.

'Making a difference'

Summing up the G8 meeting, Mr Blair acknowledged the limitations of the agreements, especially on climate change: "It isn't all everyone wanted, but it is progress."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the G8 deal represented a "good day", but that it was only "a beginning".

Group of eight major industrialised states, inc Russia
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, US
Hilary Benn, the UK's international development secretary, said the summit showed "politics demonstrating its capacity to make a difference".

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) remained critical of the G8 deal.

Make Poverty History, which organised protests in Edinburgh and backed the Live8 concerts, said important steps have been taken, but more action is urgently needed.

"To secure a deserved place in history, the G8 must go a lot further and secure real change," the group said.

Other commentators were more optimistic.

John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Project at the University of Toronto in Canada, said even the moderate agreements at Gleneagles made it "a summit of historic significance".

Hear Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific