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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 14:15 GMT
Blair bid to boost Africa's image
Nigerian boys
The G8 Summit resulted in 30bn in aid for Africa
The UK is to donate 17m ($30m) to encourage business links with Africa and help improve the continent's image, Tony Blair has said.

The aim is to prevent potential investors from being put off by Africa's image of having complex laws and weak or corrupt governments.

The money, given over a three-year period, will also help reform taxation and streamline customs operations.

Mr Blair said he hoped other rich nations would follow the UK's example.

Positive media

The project, which will not finance commercial ventures or infrastructure, also aims to raise $120m from companies and other nations over the next three years.

At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Blair said: "It is Africa itself that will lift Africa out of poverty.

"It is Africans themselves who will do the work. They want to do it. What they need is our help, but they are more than willing with that help to help themselves, and to achieve what they can achieve.

"That will happen when the conditions are right, when African business and enterprise can grow and when Africa gets the opportunity to trade with successful businesses in the way that it wants to."

Mr Blair also said he hoped for a "good outcome" from World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong next month.

At the summer's G8 summit of the richest nations, a new fund was agreed to attempt to change things, and provide a better climate for investment.

Mr Blair said failure to achieve this would do "damage not just to our own economies...but we will also do damage to the very development agenda that we highlighted so successfully at the G8 meeting in Gleneagles."

In his Africa Commission report Mr Blair said outsiders tended to see the continent as "one large risky country".

The UK government's pledge is supported by leading industrialists who have agreed to help pay for the initiative, which it is hoped will raise more than 500m by 2012.

Shell and Anglo-American have also announced $2.5m (1.5m) each, over five years.

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