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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Africa: Can the world do more?
Africa
You told us what you think of the challenges Africa faces in our phone-in programme, Talking Point.


The world has the ability to end poverty in Africa, according to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Speaking at a meeting of the Commission for Africa in Ethiopia, Mr Blair said it was "time to turn international attention into international action".

Mr Blair stressed that progress in Africa had to be led by Africa and there was no single path to development.

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The UK government recently pledged to write off debt owed by poor countries.

However, African nations have failed in a bid to win more voting power at the IMF and World Bank.

Can the world do more for Africa? Should Britain urge other countries to write off debt? Should Africa have more say in institutions like the World Bank?

Do you live in Africa? What are, in your view, the continent's problems and how do you think they could be solved? If you would like to participate in our African voices panel please click on the link below to send your views.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by David Watkins, UK:
Is multi-millionaire Bono right in urging the government to cancel third-world debts?

I think to stop poverty in Africa requires honesty. How much is every Western country getting out of Africa's cheap raw materials? When that has been answered then we begin to determine how much each Western country should do to help Africa!
Owen, Trailee, Ireland

Poverty is a global problem and not Africa's alone. Africa's problems are too many, too complex, but still solvable and manageable. The world has the ability no question to end this problems, but not the will and the courage to do it.
Bekuretsion Fesshaye, Halifax, Canada

To help Africa all we need to do is stop harming it. Stop bankrupting local farmers and businesses with our subsidised exports. Stop using the IMF and World Bank to force hugely damaging ultra-conservative undemocratic economic reforms. Stop demanding unpayable debt repayments which are costing people their lives - there are so many reasons why we should do this. Stop propping up dictators. And most importantly stop seeing other countries solely in terms of what material benefit we can gain from them and start treating other people like the human beings that they are.
Hugh Jones, Sevenoaks, UK

Before we consider pouring in yet more aid to Africa is it not about time we asked ourselves what are African countries doing to help themselves? Is it right that the West should pour vast amounts of aid into a continent which spends billions each year on arms? Is it right that we should give aid to countries which engage in wars which are the cause of death and poverty and is it right to give aid to countries riven by corruption where rulers siphon-off millions for their personal use?
Trevor, Cambs, UK

The cause of Africa's problems is the legacy of Imperialism and the neo-colonialism that continues. If we accept our guilt for the past and stop multinationals exploiting the poor in these countries, the world would be a much better place.
E Serf, Istanbul Turkey

Africa must be allowed to grow in its own way and at its own pace
David, Berlin, Germany/ex-UK
I think it's more a case of doing more of the right thing. Africa needs to be able to stand by itself as a continent. No one will give them more power in the IMF and the World Bank when corruption is so widespread. We should write off the debts they have but give no more loans. Africa must be allowed to grow in its own way and at its own pace. It is arrogant for us to assume we have to lead Africa in this or that our form of government and way of doing things is right for them. Its time to step back, give advice when asked but let Africa start to work at its problems.
David, Berlin, Germany/ex-UK

Providing resources to African countries may be needed but it is not a long term solution. They have to have a way to sustain their own needs in the future. So many jobs are being outsourced to other countries by the West. Maybe these companies could get incentives to move jobs to Africa? Or perhaps globally funded plans to prepare African countries to support these jobs?
Eric, Seattle, USA

The world CAN help Africa. We can cancel all debts, we can open our markets to their produce (free trade needs to work both ways) and our corporations who employ millions in Africa can pay them a living wage instead of perpetuating slavery. The question should be: Will the world help Africa?
Lloyd Evans, Brighton, UK

The world needs to be made more aware of the poverty in Africa. The wildlife has so much potential, yet conflict puts people off travelling to see it, and because of this, African countries lose a lot of money, which they could gain in tourism.
Andy Oakes, Northwich, Cheshire

Europe and America have exploited Africa for 500 years. Now they are expected to rise on their feet in 30 years of independence in a state of neo-colonialism. Europe and USA are in debt to Africa, not the other way around. It is not time for live aid, but for repayment.
Samppa Sirno, Tampere, Finland

There is a very simple way to lift Africa and other nations from poverty. It's called "sharing". If the rich nations of the world would simply share a portion of what they have in excess, there would be no poverty and the root causes of terrorism and other world problems would be resolved. This is simpler than most people imagine.
Ann S, Long Island, NY

The world can do more, but should it?
Rob, Weymouth, UK
The world can do more, but should it? Africa will only get better if we stop trying to impose Western Standards and stop handing everything to them on a plate. What they need is education and skill building so that they can get themselves back on their feet. Political instability and tribalism accounts for much of the unrest in Africa. True democracy needs to be instigated and corruption wiped out.
Rob, Weymouth, UK

Best thing the west can do is to stay out of Africa, let the countries build them selves up.
Rukshan Jayaratna, Stockholm, Sweden

It's important to teach African's how to use what they have at hand and be open to learn. Writing off debt can be done till Africa gets on her feet. The whole world must indeed help Africa.
Rama Chakravarthy, Washington, USA

What has happened to all the family planning programmes? All the money goes to HIV/AIDS. Despite this terrible disease the population of African countries is still growing too fast. Family planning should come back in the limelight.
Diny Dooper, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia

Of course we are worried about: tight trade rules hampering our goods in western markets, stringent IMF conditions SAPs carry, high interest rates on loans, incorrect statistics about us by the west etc. However, we have our own problems issuing from the leadership styles we have. Unless we have a new wave of leadership in Africa, any help from the world will be useless.
Sirang, Gaborone, Botswana

The big problem with Africa is its leaders. How is it possible out of 52 or so countries there are only less than 5 democratic countries. Let's stop putting the blame on somebody else and start looking for a solution from within. In case you need an example Eritrea were the liberators turned out to replace another dictator.
David, Canada

Why do most people find it hard to accept that colonialism has a lasting effect on Africa?
T Omotayo, London
Why do most people find it hard to accept that colonialism has a lasting effect on Africa? It is accepted that a rape or mugging victim bear the scars of the experience for life, what makes colonialism different from rape? Africa's problems originated from being colonised by the west.
T Omotayo, London

Africa is one of the richest parts of the planet. With plentiful supplies of natural resources. Why is it so poor? war and corruption. Is this the west's fault? partly I am not denying that but Africa was no worse treated than, India, the middle east, south America or come to think of it north America (if you go back far enough). I think that there is something the "west" can do, impose sanctions on corrupt governments, impose arms embargos and not lend governments any more money. There are already signs of hope, we just need to help them along.
Chris, Portugal and the UK

As an African living in Australia, my heart bleeds for my beloved continent. Can I dare to hope and believe that the time has finally come for all Africans to witness a profound change in the West's attitude towards our continent? To Mr Blair and all those involved in the Commission for Africa, this cry is from our hearts. "Please help Africa to help itself." Now is the time for all the Western nations to come to the aid of this continent with real and concerted development programs that will lift Africa out of the perpetual crushing poverty cycle once and for all.
Humphrey Thornicroft, Perth, Western Australia

What the world can and should do is stop thinking of 'Africa' as some homogenous mass, with no distinction between countries. Whilst it is true that some governments are shockingly corrupt, this is not true for all of them. Likewise, the fact that there are many war torn countries in Africa does not apply to all. The east and west of Africa are just as different from each other as the east and west of Europe, if not more so. We do Africa and its various people a great disservice by forgetting that individual solutions must match individual problems.
Katherine, London, UK

Reduce protectionist farm subsidies in America and Europe
Ralph, London, UK
Simple. Reduce protectionist farm subsidies in America and Europe. Africa would soon have a flourishing agricultural sector based on exports, not of single cash crops, but a whole spectrum of agricultural produce. A revived agricultural sector could then act as a launch-pad for further development.
Ralph, London, UK

Why not just trade with Africa? Europe is double standard, we lend money to countries so they can build up their industry, and yet we don't trade with them, as much as we should.
Ida S, Copenhagen, Denmark

The best way to ensure African nations will develop is for each wealthy nation to 'adopt' a poor African nation. The two nations could then develop a development plan in accordance with the African country's real needs - education, water assistance, health, etc. Each wealthy nation could give grants to students who take a gap year to go and help teach or help in their adopted country. Students from African nations could be awarded special grants to study in the wealthy nation. Businessmen could help develop trade links and investment. Research institutes could develop crops and farming practices for that particular country. Mechanics, dentists, etc - all could be involved - going over to help teach or give help.
Stephen Stacey, Helsinki, Finland

The first thing any country needs is peace and stability. That's as true of Africa as it is of any other area. It's pointless pouring money into a zone of war or chaos. Africa is a prime example of where the UN, in the form of peacekeepers, monitors and aid in the form of goods and expertise could do much to help resolve Africa's problems. Following peace and stability attention can then be turned to debt, banking and influence: until then it should be help, help and help.
John M, LyneMeads,UK

Africa should be allowed to have a bigger voice in order to speak for itself
Deana, Ottawa, Canada
Africa should be allowed to have a bigger voice in order to speak for itself. For too long now the West have imposed their 'values, and 'wisdom' on the region. The West owes a debt bigger than the reciprocating financial debt... the West has created many of the problems Africa faces and should now step up efforts to help Africa help itself- whatever that takes.
Deana, Ottawa, Canada

I think the question is should the world do more? Africa needs to become independent and constantly waiting for the next Western handout perpetuates the dependency problem. If further aid is given it should be strongly conditional, with clear and attainable targets. If targets are not met further aid should be ceased.
Susan Hughes, Cape Town, South Africa

Africa is burdened with debts, meaning its governments are spending colossal amounts trying to pay back these debts. How are they ever going to recover if we expect them to constantly repay debts that are impossible to pay anyway, even without the high interest? If the African countries are ever to develop they need to be spending this money on education and health. This is what will recover their economy.

It is absolutely impossible for any country in that much debt ever to develop; we need to just drop all the debt, completely. Never mind repayment plans, we're not going to get it back anyway. Just drop the debt and let the countries recover. Most of our aid was tied anyway, the cash crops in Africa are all our fault anyway, we're partly to blame for all the deaths and poverty anyway. The West is so selfish. Its sickening.
Sileas Campbell, Glasgow, Scotland

I believe the world has not noticed the effort Africans have made in preparing the groundwork for future peace and prosperity
Garth, Harare, Zimbabwe

The time has come where Africans (southerners in particular) are taking charge of their own destinies. For example, not long ago, Southern Africa had wars in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Mozambique. Now there is peace and democracy in most of these countries. I believe the world has not noticed the effort Africans have made in preparing the groundwork for future peace and prosperity. Whilst grants and loans are useful, it is the collective African will-power that will ultimately lead Africa out of poverty. The most useful thing the rest of the world can do is support Africa with trade and technology transfer. Africa is trying to free itself of dependency on aid.
Garth, Harare, Zimbabwe

I believe the world should do more in the sense of Western nations cancelling more of the debt of deserving countries. If this is done and done quickly, those nations can develop at a healthy rate and poverty will be taken care of before one knows what is going on.
I Chukwudi, Lagos, Nigeria

So much has been debated on how Africa should solve its problems, as for me I believe that it's up to Africans to establish their problems and know how they are going to deal with them. Tony Blair can offer advice on his views of Africa but one thing we should not forget - he is from Britain and it will not be advisable if we accept a man from another house to come and advice us on how we should clean our house.
Mwakera, Malaysia

Unity is what Africa needs so that Africa can move forward
Gifty Nana Quaicoe, Ghana

Africa has a lot to say in the institutions like the World Bank. They give loans which always above the beyond of what Africa can offer, they always looked down upon Africa as poor countries yet we have every resource in the world. I appeal with the IMF to not burden Africa with interest on the loans, every country needs the help of one another just us every nation needs every nation. I thank the UK government for their support but they should know that Africa needs a lot more than what they are doing now. They know why there is no unity in Africa. Unity is what Africa needs so that Africa can move forward.
Gifty Nana Quaicoe, Ghana

The continent of Africa is rich both in human and natural resources. The bane of the continent is centred on the bad foundation laid by the West. The greed and unnecessary avarice for wealth by Africa leaders are part of the legacy bequeathed by the colonial master. Let the West stop aiding and abetting the criminals (the corrupt African leaders) in looting our treasuries and at the same time return all the looted monies by corrupt African leaders. The spirit of patriotism will strive and there will be a way out.
Abi Badmos, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

While former European colonies like India surge ahead, Africa is plunging into more chaos and poverty
Gautam, Bangalore, India

Africa has the lost the race. While former European colonies like India surge ahead, Africa is plunging into more chaos and poverty. Blaming colonialism is a lame excuse. Much of the IT and BPO juggernaut that we now have in India has been built on the very fact that we Indians have high level of English speaking skill, a legacy of the British Raj. Most of the civil and criminal laws are from the British era. We Indians have woken up from being colonialist-critics to the globalization supporter. Africa should learn from India. Or maybe Africa was never ready for their independence that left it in utter chaos.
Gautam, Bangalore, India

The West in particular the USA has supported Africa and provides the lion share of the IMF/World Bank funding. Therefore, it should be the steward of the same. If the corruption in Africa would stop, the people would see an improvement in their position. The West has more to offer Africa than vice-versa. Once Africa starts on the road to economic success then would be the time to ask for more control.
Andrew Bunch, Georgetown, SC, USA

I am a Sudanese living in the UK and looking at Mr Blair's efforts to solve our problem I feel that is a nice thing to do, but I am not a bit convinced when looking at the situation of Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers including those who come from Darfur itself who have been waiting for Blair's mercy to acknowledge they have a case. I would say therefore, "Have a mercy for those who are knocking on your doorstep Mr Blair if you want us to believe that you care about millions who are displaced as a result of the Sudanese government irresponsible actions".

I would also like to ask Mr Blair whether he ever asked himself about how many homeless refugee, detainees, and case-refused Sudanese living here without any help or hope. All we ask for is some genuine mercy from somebody who cares for Sudan. Big thanks for everyone who wanted to help, but charity starts at home Mr Blair.
Aysha Hommaida, London, UK

Africans must educate themselves to acquire knowledge to be free of want, hunger, disease and inferiority complexes
Hamid Alsharief, Khartoum

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds" Bob Marley. That is true and will remain for ever true. Therefore the best thing to be done is to leave Africa alone. The wise men and women of Africa can lead her to greater heights if given the chance. Remember Chief Obasanjo refused to go into war with Cameroon over Bakasi to shame the enemies of Africa. Charles Taylor agreed to be exiled to save himself and country the fate of Saddam and Iraq .Call these two men what you wish but the truth remains that they saved many lives.

Let the West be fair to Africa and buy African products at their real value. Why does the West subsidise its sugar, animal production and agriculture against African products? Africans must educate themselves to acquire knowledge to be free of want, hunger, disease and inferiority complexes. No-one will develop Africa for them. Africans must not allow others to manipulate and cheat them to steal their resources and leave them fighting. Who is funding the rebels of Darfur, Congo and Nigeria's Niger Delta? All what Africa needs is to be left alone.
Hamid Alsharief, Khartoum, Sudan

It is very simple: Give the money (with complete autonomy) to reputable NGOs; they are on the ground and know better than any other way, and the money goes straight into the accounts of the source of the problem - corrupt leaders!
David Boateng, Fleet, Hants, UK

Help Africa, it sounds good, write off their debts, never, as it will not give the proper message. What is required is showing them the path to progress. Let them learn to earn, find a place in world's economy.
Rohini Krishna, Faizabad, India

The world has done a lot and enough. The African leaders must learn and understand that corruption is making this continent much poor. Money may be pumped to Africa but if it is misused, Africa will remain poor.
Faztudo Langisse, Maputo, Mozambique






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