Monday, September 13, 2010

Blair Commission on Africa releases new report

In 2005, the Commission on Africa was formed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to guide the G8 on African development. Today, the same commission will give a new report that shows the progress the made on the initial recommendations.

the Blair commission asked for a doubling of aid to the the African continent, but that aid has only increased by 60 percent. The commission also says that very little progress has been made on increasing African trade and health and education spending.

From the Global and Mail, writer Geoffrey York previews the commission report.

Five years later, in a report to be released on Monday, the commission says it is disappointed by the lack of progress on many fronts, even though Africa has quadrupled its level of foreign investment and trade in recent years.

The commission’s most famous recommendation in 2005 was a call for the doubling of foreign aid to Africa. It persuaded the G8 and other donors to commit themselves to debt relief for Africa and a doubling of their aid flows by 2010. Under their pledge, Africa would receive an additional $25-billion (U.S.) in aid annually by 2010 in a concerted push to reduce poverty.

But in reality, the wealthy nations fell far short of their promise. Their aid for Africa increased by just 60 per cent of the promised amount, and much of this went to high-income and middle-income countries, rather than the poorest African countries, the commission says.

But on other issues, much less has been achieved, the commission said. There has been no improvement in higher-education funding, so Africa continues to face a shortage of doctors, teachers and other professionals. The commission had called for a 50 per cent increase in irrigated farmland by 2010, but instead it increased by just 0.9 per cent.

On trade issues, the results have been “dismal,” the commission said. “Trade is perhaps the area in which the least progress has been made in the past five years,” it said.

Despite an increase in African exports in recent years, Africa still accounts for only 3.3 per cent of global trade – “a very modest share and the smallest of any region in the world,” the commission said.

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