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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Is debt relief the answer for Africa?
US President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

We discussed plans to eradicate poverty in Africa in our global phone-in programme, Talking Point.

Gordon Brown has announced that a deal has been reached by the G8 nations to help the world's poorest countries.

Under the deal, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Fund will write off 100% of the money owed to them by selected nations.

The plan, which was devised by the UK, was announced at a meeting of G8 finance ministers in London on Saturday.

Eighteen nations, mostly in Africa, will now have more revenue to spend on health, education and development.

Is debt relief the solution to Africa's problems? Or should we be sending more aid?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

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

This topic was suggested by Craig Mold, Folkestone, UK:
Given the UK's backing to the Iraq war, should GW Bush be doing more for the G8 process of ending African debt?

Political will is conditioned by economic realities; Western countries do have their problems too. Therefore, African leaders must first help themselves by taming the greed that prompts looting of treasury and massive corruption. Western leaders should help prevent their countries from being storehouses for stolen African money and monitor the use of western aid to improve basic economic infrastructure that will improve production in Africa, else, we'll be going in circles.
Erasmus, Warri, Nigeria

One of the main problems facing Africa is overpopulation. I am very surprised to see that no one has spoken out on it yet. In 50 years the population of the African continent will be astronomical. We need to do something soon, or we will be buried in troubles from which we cannot escape.
Desmond Nyasulu, Nigerian living in Seattle, USA

As a friend of mine said, aid from developed countries is to also help themselves by improving conditions there to stop the thousands of illegal immigrants from Africa into Europe, and make developing countries prosperous enough to buy products from developed countries.
Huayna Capac, Lima, Peru

Aid in the form of education to all levels of people (including governments) is the only answer for long term improvements. Without knowledge, saving people from their daily trials and Aids will still only be short term.
Angela, Langley, Canada

As of writing this, the USA has $7,792,896,477,352 in national debt. Do you think Africa is going to come and bail us out? Next to terrorism, this is the biggest threat to the USA yet we are still expected to pay for everyone else's dilemmas. News flash: they are going to resent us regardless of whatever we do. Most of the people asking for money on Africa's behalf would just love it if we were to go broke. Unless we make our own debt a real priority they will be laughing at our stupidity as they call in our mortgage.
Bill Grant, NYC, USA

In this context, half-measures are as bad as doing nothing, the way positions are forming; a compromise of some form may crystallize but not be bold enough to be effective. We would then be in the half-measure quagmire, it is important that before we talk of implementation instruments, that goals are set, timelines defined and the need for action stems from the goals and milestones. Things may not be exactly that simple, but such a roadmap would definitely reflect political will.
Jasabanta Choudhuri, India

Most people in the West are oblivious to the systemic injustices that are part of our current world order. But on an even higher level, than redress is simple human compassion. If I were the one being crushed by an oppressive debt burden, I know what I would want. I would want that debt (which I would have had no real part in creating) to be lifted so that I could rise up and contribute my energy and vitality to making the world a better place.
Tim Jacobson, Stouffville Canada

What Africa needs is a cure, not a band-aid to mask the reluctance of the world politicians to do what is right, yet unpopular. Instead of throwing money to Africa, help the continent to fend for itself by removing tariffs and subsidies to agricultural and primary products in the West and stop subsidizing and supplying arms to many of the dictators in Africa. When that happens all the continent's children scattered around the globe will be flocking back to better Africa. This also alleviates the immigration problem that many Western countries face today.
Haimanot, Washington, DC

Some forms of aid will always be required in any continent, the tsunami events highlight this fact. Perhaps locking in recipients, of other aid projects, to social and/or political improvements would help those who need the aid the most? I am appalled by the self-righteous attitude of some who responded to this question, perhaps they should remember the old saying "there, but for the grace of god, go I".
Thomas Davidson, Kungala, Australia

It's strange that some people seem to think that Western markets are closed to Africans. My local supermarket stocks fruit and vegetables from Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and various other African countries. Our markets are not closed. However, they ought to be because environmentally it makes no sense at all to import apples or courgettes all the way from Africa when we can and do grow them here in the UK.
Laurie Ellman, UK

Aid is a Temporary relief to serious problems of Africa. What Africa needs is direct investments in manufacturing industries, building hospitals and schools. Money spent is money gone, money invested in real business that will cause industrial revolutions, employment and revenue from taxes from business establishments. The west needs to look at its trade policies and review them so that they benefit business growth in Africa. Africa does not need hand outs but real investment and massive education.
Ronald Tuso, London

Aid can only be efficient if it is channelled appropriately
Jonathan Damsgaard, Sweden
Aid can only be efficient if it is channelled appropriately. Tied aid must be stopped, countries need to stop dictating terms for the funds of aid. 76 % of US aid is tied, meaning that recipient countries are forced to buy over-priced western goods. Countries need to step up to their responsibility and meet the millennium development goals.
Jonathan Damsgaard, Malmo, Sweden

I can just imagine those corrupt African leaders and their cronies in government rubbing their hands in absolute glee to hear more money is coming their way from those foolish rich countries willing to hand out money freely. Same mistakes again - When will we ever learn?
Evert Versteeg, Holland

Bush and Blair are only interested in managing capitalism and promoting big business. I believe that even with all this rhetoric, nothing will come of this meeting. In all the years the leaders of the west have supposedly been 'tackling' poverty, the gap between rich and poor has got infinitely wider.
Steven Craig, Edinburgh

Aid is important but it shouldn't be taken for granted. In my opinion, the best way to fight poverty in Africa is to start by fighting ignorance. Defeating ignorance will help our people to have a developmental attitude.
Langham Mwanza, Kitwe, Zambia

What we need is good governance and honesty. Africa is endowed with rich resources. Help us to exploit these to our maximum benefit but don't exploit us. Aid comes with conditions which are not beneficial to us.
Tilly, Ghana

Thank you Mr Blair and Bush for such great initiative. You are heroes in Africa. But there is one problem you have to resolve politically. Please ask the presidents of these countries to step down: Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, Togo, Angola, Burkina Faso, Central Africa Republic, Rwanda, Chad, Niger, Tunisia etc. Then ask your ally France to stop supporting some of these dictatorial regimes.
Franck, Brazzaville, Congo-Brazzaville

Only our attitude towards development will put this great continent forward
Kawsu Sanyang, Gambia

Yes but only if our leaders change their attitude. I commend most of the African leaders for the positive role they are playing in promoting democracy and the fight against corruption. We need leaders who are willing to put things right. Elimination of the debt will only help Africa if we help ourselves. Let us always remember that Africa is for the Africans and only our attitude towards development will put this great continent forward.
Kawsu Sanyang, Tallinding, Gambia

Financial aid to Africa will help resolve the problems in some parts of Africa.
John, Benin

It's better to teach a child to fish as then he will never be hungry. What we need are employment opportunities and not cash which ends up in the pockets of the leaders. We don't have jobs here and it's better being dead than alive.
Chuleba Eric, Bamenda, Cameroon

The USA needs to focus on the people within its own borders first. 35 million Americans are living below the poverty line. Shall we ignore those people to aid strangers in a foreign land? Any nation who neglects its own people, cannot hope to survive a long period of time.
Alex, USA

Giving equal trade rights to African agriculture products and more technical assistance to the African countries is far more urgent rather than giving financial aid and writing off debts.
Firdaus, Singapore

I don't think cancelling the debt will change anything. The money not paid in interest or debt repayment won't go towards improving the lives of Africa's citizens.
Mark Pearson, Bicester, Oxon

A big NO - aid is not the answer for Africa. We should be helping to put in place sound governments who are working for their people. Africa appears to be full of corruption. People like Mugabe should be held to account and we need to support the people who want this to happen.
C Tomlin, East Molesey, Surrey

If overcoming poverty in Africa is simply a matter of money why is it that all the efforts of fund raising in the past, including Live Aid have not put an end to it? I subscribe to the view that much of the problem is due to corrupt, incompetent governments and endless wars.
Graham, Swindon, England


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