The Africa Progress Panel welcomes the prominence given to Africa at the G8 Summit and commends the Government of Japan for working so comprehensively to engage African leaders both before and during the Summit.
The Panel also welcomes the commitments made at the Summit in areas fundamental to the continent’s development, including food security, trade, aid, climate change, energy, water, health and education. We believe that success in supporting Africa to address these urgent issues will not only result in tangible benefits for her people but ensure a more secure and prosperous future for the world.
For G8 leaders, helping Africa to help itself is not a question of altruism; it is a matter of selfinterest. We urge G8 leaders swiftly to follow through the commitments made by defining clear outcomes and timelines and by making practical arrangements for monitoring them. If progress cannot be measured, it is unlikely to be managed.
The G8’s renewed commitment to deliver the pledges made at Gleneagles is a welcome but minimal response to the reality that the G8 is currently lagging behind schedule on its commitments. Although announcements have been made by individual countries ahead of the Summit, G8 countries have done little to show how they will fund the shortfall of US$ 40 billion in programmable aid and debt relief identified by the Panel last month.
The G8 has yet to present clear timetables outlining future aid provision or to provide increased transparency required to improve the quality of aid. The Panel calls for G8 countries to specify both how and when they will deliver on the undertakings they have given to their own electorates, the peoples of Africa and the broader international community.
Global food crisis
In its annual report assessing the new opportunities and threats to Africa’s development, launched ahead of the G8 Summit, the Panel demanded immediate international action to deal with the global food crisis. The Panel therefore welcomes the commitment of US$ 10 billion to support food aid and measures to increase agricultural input as a necessary first step to tackling the crisis. More needs to be done, however, to increase the supply of food to the world’s most vulnerable citizens, and immediate measures must be taken to relax export restrictions on commodities such as rice.
In particular, the Panel commends the full and effective implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme, and the production goals it has set. We agree that a concerted and sustained effort is now required to support African countries to increase investments in seed and fertiliser, new crop varieties, water management, and in linking farmers to information, credit, extension support and markets. The Panel also fully supports the G8 leaders’ commitment to a partnership approach, such as through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to promote agricultural research and development as a critical driver of the transformation now required.
The Panel calls for the Experts Group established at Hokkaido to keep the G8 closely accountable to its commitments and urges G8 countries both to honour these pledges and identify other ways to support the work of the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis.
The Panel believes that trade policy must work to enable millions of Africans to get jobs and grow their incomes. Global food security cannot be achieved in the absence of robust regional as well as global markets that increase access for the least developed countries. This requires the reduction or removal of intra- as well as inter-continental trade barriers and greater investment in infrastructure. In this context, the Panel welcomes the G8 leaders’ commitment to the conclusion of an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive Doha agreement, not least to address the iniquities of the status quo and rebalance the global trading system in favour of African and other developing countries.
As WTO negotiations enter this crucial period, all parties need to understand that the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals rest in large part on the ability of the continent to trade its way out of poverty. Agreements for the purchase and stockpiling of food must be urgently reviewed in light of the ongoing shortage of food in Africa and elsewhere, and measures taken to release stockpiles onto the world market.
Climate change is affecting Africa more severely than other regions of the world, and will have an increasingly devastating impact on food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of the rural poor.
While being among the worst affected, Africans are least responsible for the problem, and least able to afford the cost of adapting their economies, food production and health systems to cope.
Having called for the G8 to invest in infrastructure and technology in Africa as a means of adapting to climate change, the Panel commends the G8’s pledge to provide urgent support for adaptation strategies. The Panel joins the G8 in welcoming the activities of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Adaption Fund and calls for stronger and more effective support from the multilateral development banks and other development agencies in this critical area. The Panel welcomes the G8’s vision of achieving a reduction in global emissions of at least 50 per cent by 2050, but regrets that the G8 did not provide a baseline for the reductions and also stopped short of urging numerical targets.
The Panel urges the G8 and major developing countries to now act on the discussions that have been undertaken at Hokkaido and ensure at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 results in a deal that is fair, sustainable and enforceable.
The crisis in Zimbabwe is having profound economic and humanitarian consequences both for her citizens and for the entire southern Africa region. The Panel welcomes the clear position the G8 has taken on Zimbabwe, and agrees that the legitimacy of the Government depends upon it reflecting the freely expressed will of the Zimbabwean people.
The Panel joins the G8 in supporting the African Union’s call to encourage Zimbabwean leaders to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace and stability. The Panel also encourages regional bodies, including SADC and the AU, to provide strong leadership towards a quick and democratic resolution of the crisis.
Further pledges and commitments
At the mid point of the Millennium Development Goals, the Panel warmly welcomes renewed commitments by G8 leaders to development in Africa, based on the principles of mutual accountability and good governance, transparency and rule of law. In particular we welcome the commitments to reinvigorate the promotion of gender equity and women’s empowerment, and to support African countries’ commitment to comprehensive education. We recognise and wish to support the role of civil society in ensuring that governments remain honest and accountable.
We also welcome the health package agreed at Hokkaido that will help train and recruit 1.5 million health workers in Africa and aims to ensure 80% of mothers are accompanied in childbirth by a trained health worker. In addition to this, the spending commitments of US$60 billion to fight killer diseases over five years will have a significant impact on the global effort to improve health, as will the provision of 100 million bednets by 2010.
In conclusion, the Africa Progress Panel applauds G8 leaders for putting development issues, climate change and Africa at the heart of their deliberations in Hokkaido at a time of global economic turbulence. The task now must be to follow these up with a clear, time-bound action plan for the implementation of the commitments that have been reached.