Friday, June 12, 2009

Analysis of the G-8 aid commitments to Africa

The big story yesterday was the new report from the ONE Campaign on the G-8 fulfillment of aid promises. ONE had really attacked Italy and France for dragging the whole G-8 aid average down. ONE says that the two countries had fallen way short of it's promises to double aid to the African continent.

Despite the broken promises, China gives more aid for African infrastructure than the whole G-8 combined. This is one of the reasons that Sir Bob Geldof wants more international voices to contribute to solve the problems of poverty, instead of just eight nations.

We found a great analysis of all this in TIME Magazine, writer Vivienne Walt analyzes the difficulty that rich nations have in keeping commitments while trying to prevent collapses at home due to the global recession.

It may be no surprise, in light of the global economic recession, that the world's richest nations have failed to deliver much of the aid they promised Africa four years ago. But campaigners are not letting the Group of 8 (G-8) industrialized countries off the hook. According to ONE, an advocacy group founded by U2 singer Bono, most of the blame for the shortfall in pledges made at the high-profile Gleneagles summit in 2005 rests on just two countries — Italy and France. Italy, which next month hosts a summit of G-8 leaders, has delivered a miniscule 3% of the amount it pledged at Gleneagles, according to ONE's annual DATA report tracking aid delivery. France has given just 7% of its pledged amount.

At Gleneagles, the leaders of the U.S., Japan and the wealthiest European countries vowed to supply $21.5 billion in aid to Africa by 2010, to help the continent work its way out of poverty by tackling dire problems in health and education. But with just a year to go to 2010, only $7 billion of the additional $21.5 billion has come through — with France and Italy accounting for the bulk of the shortfall, although that could rise to about $11 billion by the end of this year. The star of the donors is Britain, which is on track to become the first G-8 country to meet the target of spending 0.7% of its national income on aid. Still, the G-8 as a whole looks unlikely to achieve its targets. (See pictures of the global financial crisis.)

The leaders who pledged the $21.5 billion in 2005 obviously hadn't anticipated the global downturn that would force them to spend hundreds of billions on bailing out their own floundering economies. And the squeeze on the finances of G-8 countries is likely to worsen, next year, as governments scramble to lower their deficits, rather than risk inflation in the midst of rising unemployment. Overseas aid could then suffer even further cuts. "As governments look to cut deficits, they will look to cut all parts of their budgets and these parts that are to help the poorest may or may not be cut as part of that process," Bill Gates told reporters in London on Thursday at the launch of the DATA report. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation operates in numerous African countries, and its $27.5 billion endowment makes it a far more significant donor than foreign governments are in some countries.

Cuts in aid budgets by the industrialized nations could prove disastrous for some African countries, according to the Africa Progress Panel, a group led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. "The financial meltdown that evolved into an economic recession has now become a development crisis," warns the Panel's report released on Wednesday. "Combined with the food crisis, the volatility in fuel costs and climate change, it threatens to reverse Africa's recent progress."

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