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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Do the world's richest countries care about Africa?
At the recent meeting in Genoa of the world's wealthiest nations, the G8, the leaders went to great lengths to counter the view that they were arrogant, rich politicians who did not care about poor countries.
The overall theme of the summit was fighting global poverty. Several African presidents were invited to take part in one of the sessions and the G8 agreed on further aid for African development projects.
But what African countries are calling for is not aid but partnerships and fair trade policies. The summit saw the formal launch of a global fund to fight Aids, malaria and tuberculosis and promised contributions so far are a little more than $1bn dollars.
But do the G8 countries really care about Africa or are they simply paying lip-service? What do you think the rich nations should be doing for Africa?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The answer to this important question is yes and no. Yes, because they support us the Africans in terms of finances and aid but no, because they allow most African leaders to keep siphoned-off monies in their banks and when the fortunate happens, and some African heads of state leave office, their countries serve as haven for them - thus preventing the former caretakers from accounting for their stewardship.
Abbas Abdus-salam, Nigeria
Africa is mineral-rich and common sense poor. Almost every single country is wracked by war, famine, genocide, corruption, mismanagement and greed. South Africa has the highest rate of AIDS infection in the world, yet the government spends almost nothing on AIDS, nor on hospitals, education or law and order, but is buying R43 billion worth of weapons of mass destruction. This in a country that has no enemies. THIS is why the world is heartily sick of Africa and the begging bowl.
Honestly, Westerners don't care about Africans. They only care about African gold and diamonds. They would do everything to get these natural resources, even if it means setting up Africans against each other. As Africans wage war against each other, the Westerners are busy looting the natural resources. Either way, the Westerners benefit - they steal our gold and diamond and we buy their arms to kill each other. Just take a look at Sierra Leone, the civil war is because of diamonds. Africa needs to wake up!
The rot starts at the top. If a lot of African governments put as much effort into solving their own problems as they do in promoting tribal conflicts - aiding warring factions in civil wars, stealing resources from their own people and generally creating their own massive mess - then maybe the developed nations would happily help those helping themselves.
Who are the rich and who are the poor? I get sick and distorted when I hear about Africa. Africa has many problems which are not natural but artificially constructed. Where else in the world do we have such a high level of abundant mineral resources except Africa? The African man is not very generous to himself, talk less of being good to his neighbour. The West are not to blame for African problems because they are like every business organisation whose maxim is to maximise profit and reconcile any loss. They are using Africa as a place to gain and maintain their supremacy. Saying the West will help Africa through, is like biting the very hand that feeds you. The problems rest in the mentality of the people themselves, the way an African feels, smells, and sees the world is very different from someone who seeks peace and progress for the human race.
Africa has many troubles but, as an African, I still like to be an African with an Africa heart, African mind, in an African atmosphere. I know things will never be the same, it will either move forward or go backward.
Of course it is lip service only. Can it be any other type of response, if the African countries do not help themselves? If this sounds harsh, consider the $6 to 8 billion US dollar military hardware purchase South Africa is making. This at a time of socio-economic challenges at home. Zimbabwe's problems and future hardships have everything to do with incompetent government. Yet all you hear is criticism of Western governments for not handing out aid. African countries have a responsibility to manage themselves and not just a right to demand aid. The call for more favourable trading policies is misplaced as supply and demand is what it is all about.
Rich countries will never care about Africa because they are living on stealing the wealth of Africa. Now rich countries talk about globalisation(Americanisation) while in Africa we still talk about "villagisation"! What about soft loans which make Africa poorer than before? I think the only solution is a radical break with this strong, ugly capitalist system which has been the main factor of underdevelopment of Africa over the last 400 yrs.
The established system can't be changed for decades to come. The idea of carrying on discussions is just for the sake of it and maybe for window-dressing. African leaders know full well the gravity of their despair and that's why they don't spare their efforts when stealing from their public treasury. In this world, the rich and the poor are bound by destiny to live side by side. There's nothing mankind can do about it. So let's stop pretending to find solutions to problems that are bound to be with us as long as we continue to inhabit this earth. Even leaders of most developed nations know the gravity of the situation, especially with the addition of the AIDS plague which will wipe out any little progress that may be made. The truth is bitter and perhaps better not to be voiced. The problem has been there, is there and will continue to be there. There is little mankind can do to free Africa from its curse.
If the UK and other rich countries really cared about Africa they would increase the aid they give. They keep making grand promises but never provide the cash to back them up. It is thirty years since the UK and other rich countries promised to give 0.7 per cent of GNP in aid, and we are still not even half way there. It's time for them to stump up or shut up.
Andrew Lynch, UK
The G8 reminds me of the story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. They meet behind closed doors to share their loots fairly among themselves with no regards for those outside their circle. What troubles me the most is that it is not their numbers have shrunk, it takes one to lead. But this G8 have big money, big power, and big polity, but they have such a small heart which failed to understand the sufferings of many nations in their manipulative process of the global economy. After the G8 share out the global pie among themselves, they come on TV to declare and brag about to whom they decided to let have the crumble of their pie, and they want us to applaud that? "You can fool some people some times but you can't fool all the people all of the time".
Why don't we start this debate by asking whether leaders of African countries love their people, and committed to rectifying some of their problems? Where there is a will, there is a way. Yes, I know there are some constraints such as global economic and political structures, but if Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand are working their way out of poverty why can't we? Charity begins at home. If Charles Taylor or Robert Mugabe doesn't care about the welfare of their people, because they're just arrogant, greedy and power-drunk, why should they point the accusing finger at richer countries? Africa could do without the bad publicity it keeps getting, if its leaders could bury their greed and work hard to make it a better place.
The first thing for us to realise is that we Africans are our own worst enemies. The rich countries only capitalise on this. What type of help do we want from them? Helping us means committing suicide for themselves, since their economies are booming because of our ignorance, selfishness, stupidity and visionless leaders.
Let us help ourselves first. We need to struggle, kick out our good for nothing leaders, fight unjust structure like globalisation and stop buying arm from them to kill one another. Those dreaming of help from richer nations are dreaming in their dreams. If they give one o dolar as help, grant or whatever, be sure they will take five in place of the one they gave you. Wake up third world and open your eyes, and do not wait for the G8 group. THEY WILL NEVER HELP YOU.
There is no hope for Africa to get out of this trouble only through unification and one strategy to fight the western countries and get their wealth out of their pockets.
One need to realize that, Africa is waking up and AU is under the way.
In Africa as elsewhere, power corrupts, and the only way the Black African has dealt with corruption is to wage civil war against their oppressors. Countries such as Sierra Leone who possess a highly prized commodity such as diamonds will never know peace, and their people will never know harmony because it is the west who control their levers of power. The countries of the West should relinquish their hold over Africa and assist only in the process of reconstruction and development.
Kanmwaa Cosmas, Ghana
If they do care, then they have a very cruel way of showing it. Who runs the world's financial institutions? The very nations that run the World Bank and IMF are the same ones that have very stringent lending policies to developing countries and the same ones that produce the arms and sell them at very favourable buying terms. The meagre funds borrowed from the World Bank are simply transferred to
the accounts of the arms manufacturers. Here we are talking of caring? Until these poor nations start dumping their produce in the
oceans in unison, demanding better marketing terms, I do not foresee an end to their miseries.
I don't expect the G8 nations to bring any economic relief to Africa. Actually it would have been beneficial if they boldly told Africans that they are on their own for the long run. Trying to look nice and being nice are two different things. Those people from the western world who say the rich should help the poor are not saying it because they wanted Africans to have better lives, they are only saying it out of guilt. The rich nations built their empires with the wealth that they looted from Africa.
Shola Olaleye, USA
I think Africa's trouble is glaring and obvious for anybody who reads news and see TV broadcasts. It doesn't take a genius to figure out all those developed world nations giving one billion dollars between them is nothing. The developed world should help to make a genuine difference in Africa rather than to enhance their image in the world.
I think it is very foolish to expect the Western leaders to care about Africa when our very own African leaders do not care about their people. Only last month, these stupid and selfish leaders launched an 'African Union' with minimal participation by the African peoples who are supposed to be its constituents. How much more foolish can you get?
Yes there are major problems that we in Africa need to deal with internally but the West needs to be reminded that much of its wealth came from Africa and it has by no means come anywhere near to paying back what it took from our continent. No we in Africa do not need help from the rich countries, we just want back what should have been ours in the first place.
African leaders should be working harder on getting educated Africans back to Africa instead of begging for money from the west. Let them stop buying arms and fancy things for themselves and their families and friends and there will be enough money to provide for health, education etc. Let's be independent and cooperate on equal footing with the rest of the world. But many African leaders have first to grow up! What they have received from the G8 is lip-service and this is not the first time.
The short answer is NO. Could they care more, YES. As they have the power (money, skills, etc.) to influence others, they should be tough on the African rulers to care more for their own people than expecting the rich countries to care for Africa. Whatever aid and help they provide should be accountable before they give more.
As for the pledges and assurances made at these G8 meetings, nothing but a lot of wind and little else! I only hope all of this will make us Africans come to our senses, take charge of our own future, start asking our leaders hard questions and holding them to all the promises they made to us before we elected them.
Make no mistake about it, our salvation will never come from aid. The only obstacle to progress in Africa are the various criminal gangs who like to call themselves our leaders. They are the sole cause of the African tragedy. If we continue to delude ourselves by believing that aid is the solution, we are going to lose the 21st century, just as we lost the 20th, and indeed, the ones before.
Elizabeth Wyms, USA/Zimbabwe
I do think that rich nations should be doing a lot more than they are doing today, especially when it comes to trade partnership. On the other hand, we are our own problem - we fail to learn and adapt good principles and civilised way of life from other developed countries. Instead, our leaders especially continue to be corrupt, dictators, self-centred, power greedy, war atavist, with no sense of vision for their nations. We continue to live in circles: war, poverty, disease, and a downward trench. We produce educated men and women who are not useful to us in Africa because they always have to run for their lives from our so-called insecure power-conscious leaders.
How can these rich countries even help when there is no accountability and everyone is seeking out for him or herself. We have to change and put Africa and the people of Africa first. Stop making war; we need a home to come to. Use the country's resources for development; we need to move in an upward direction.
But unfortunately, our leaders on the continent have demonstrated their lack of interest in the development of the continent by their indulgence in massive corruption and depositing stolen money in banks in western countries. So how can the West really care for us when our own leaders do not have the interest to take us forward? Africa will not get a sense of sincerity and attention from rich nations until we are serious to take care of our own.
22 Jul 01 | Europe
G8 pledges to help poor
23 Jul 01 | Africa
Poor nations demand fairer world trade
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