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Tony Blair’s ‘Commission For Africa’ Issues New Report: Africa Experiences Economic Growth, Donors Need To Honor Commitments

The Commission for Africa, a panel set up by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, issued a report (.pdf) Monday which says international donors must follow up on aid commitments to Africa and help the continent address new challenges, Agence France-Presse reports (9/12).

“There is much to celebrate. African governments have done more than ever before to promote business and investment. … But there remains much to be done. Progress on reforming international trade rules has been dismal; donors are still providing less in aid than their commitments; and African governments are still not investing as much as they promised in key areas,” a statement from the commissioners said, according to a blog post highlighting some of the report’s major recommendations on the Commission for Africa’s website (9/12).

“While many African countries are attracting much more foreign investment with new business-friendly policies, they are still failing to spend enough on health and education, and they are encumbered by wealthy nations that have failed to reduce their farm subsidies or negotiate trade deals with Africa, the commission says,” according to the Globe and Mail. The report is the group’s follow up on an “influential” 2005 document “that became the blueprint for the G8 summit at Gleneagles, where the Group of Eight industrialized nations pledged a massive increase in aid to Africa,” the newspaper notes. “Five years later … 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” (York, 9/12).

Although the continent has experienced average annual growth rates of six percent for a good portion of the past decade, the report said most Africans had yet to feel the benefits of economic growth, Reuters reports (Croft, 9/13). Despite the progress, the commission finds that Africa is not on course to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), allAfrica.com writes: “Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole will not achieve any of the MDGs on time … Economic growth and trade have been damaged by the global economic crisis. Climate change and rising food prices will make poverty reduction more challenging in many parts of the continent.”

Noting its 2005 call for African governments to increase arable land under irrigation by 50 percent by 2010, the commission’s report said: “Only six percent of land in Africa is irrigated and between 2004 and 2007 the amount of land equipped for irrigation increased by just 0.9%.” African governments “have not done enough to speed up their own investment in rural infrastructure and have failed to fulfill their commitment to spend at least 10 percent of their budgets on agriculture,” the report states (9/13).

The report also recommended the G20 assume responsibility for providing long-term aid to Africa, AFP reports. “This was something previously carried out by the Group of Eight rich nations. ‘The G20 should take on the G8’s previous role in making and monitoring commitments to supporting growth and development in Africa,’ concluded the report” (9/12).

Reuters notes that the new report was released just ahead of a summit where world leaders will discuss progress on the MDGs (9/13).

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