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Last Updated: Friday February 18 2005 17:39 GMT

Why could 2005 be good for Africa?

Women in Ghana
Many countries in Africa have been suffering wars, diseases, poverty and famine for years.

Some people say 2005 could finally see some real progress being made for the continent.

So why is this year different? Experts say there are three things we need to do to make a change:

  • Drop the debt: The UK has already cancelled the debts it's owed by the world's poorest countries, letting them spend the money on rebuilding rather than repaying.

    The government says other countries and big organisations like international banks could do more to drop the debt.

  • Give more, better, aid: Giving money works, and to solve more problems, more aid is needed.

    Instead of just giving food and medicines, aid should help countries rebuild themselves for the future. That means training and educating people to help themselves.

    Coldplay's Chris Martin
    Coldplay's Chris Martin campaigns for fair trade

  • Make trade fairer: International trade rules make it hard for poor countries to compete with farmers in richer countries.

    Rich countries give money to their own farmers, which means their produce is often cheaper than food grown in poor countries.

    That means poor farmers can't sell their produce, trapping them in poverty.

    Making trade fairer could be worth three times as much as all the aid given by rich countries.

But why should 2005 be any different from any other year? Here are four reasons it could be time for change:

  • The G8: The UK is head of this powerful group of eight countries in 2005.

    That means Britain decides what they discuss, and Prime Minister Tony Blair says he'll make Africa the main topic.

    Tony Blair
    Tony Blair is pushing Africa into the spotlight

  • The European Union: Britain has the Presidency of the EU in 2005 as well.

    Another opportunity to push Africa's problems into the spotlight.

  • International Commission for Africa: This group of experts has been investigating Africa's problems for a year.

    Their final report is out in 2005, which could suggest new ways to deal with African issues.

  • Timing: As well as all this, Band Aid 20 and the Make Poverty History campaign have brought Africa into the spotlight using the power of celebrities.

    This could encourage normal people to put pressure on the government to really do something to help.

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