Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Africa says give us the money!

Africa: Time to sink more money into Africa with yet another "Marshall Plan" I feel secure that this time everything will go well.

African finance ministers invited Brown and Bono to a conference in Abuja where they followed up on last year's meeting of the Group of Eight rich nations which promised to double aid to Africa by 2010. Development campaigners say the rich world is already falling behind on promises to fund a development plan on the scale of the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after the Second World War. The plan for Africa is to get on track to meet globally agreed targets for wealth, health and education, known as Millennium Development Goals, by 2015. Some donors have complained Africa lacks detailed, costed strategies that would encourage them to hand over the money more quickly. At least 15 African countries responded on Monday by agreeing to draw up fully costed, 10-year education recovery plans by September. Brown said Russian President Vladimir Putin had already agreed to put education on the agenda at the next Group of Eight meeting in Russia in July. NO MORE SPENDING CONTROLS United Nations economist Jeffrey Sachs told ministers to forget IMF-imposed spending controls and work on more ambitious plans that would deliver the targets, which include halving poverty and cutting child mortality by two-thirds. "The days when the IMF said 'Freeze public sector spending' are over," Sachs told the conference. "It cannot be business as usual, because business as usual will not bring us to the Millennium Development Goals. Business as usual will take us even farther than we are today."
No spending controls means in 2016, the UN, Bono, and other guilt ridden souls will hold another begathon to "save Africa." Maybe another Live 8 concert. This is just going to be an orgy of money stealing if the countries actually follow thru on their pledges.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, estimates that it needs $5 billion (2.65 billion pounds) to $7 billion extra every year to meet the goals. It has obtained $1 billion in the form of funds released by a historic debt write-off by rich creditor nations last year. Spending hikes in education, health and infrastructure are needed all at the same time because the goals are interlinked, Sachs said. If a child has to walk several miles to fetch water for her family every day, she cannot attend school. A water borehole in her village might also protect her from water-borne diseases. Brown said he was optimistic about African development, but the scale of the task was huge. "Over the last two decades, the number of men and women living in poverty in Africa has tragically doubled. Africa's share in global trade has halved," he told the conference.
I would like to point out that Nigeria is one of the most resource filled countries in Africa and one of the most corrupt.
The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion. That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has spoken of a new Marshall Plan for Africa. But Nigeria's rulers have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. After that mass theft, two thirds of the country's 130 million people - one in seven of the total African population - live in abject poverty, a third is illiterate and 40 per cent have no safe water supply. With more people and more natural resources than any other African country, Nigeria is the key to the continent's success. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, set up three years ago, said that £220 billion was "squandered" between independence from Britain in 1960 and the return of civilian rule in 1999. "We cannot be accurate down to the last figure but that is our projection," Osita Nwajah, a commission spokesman, said in the capital, Abuja. The stolen fortune tallies almost exactly with the £220 billion of western aid given to Africa between 1960 and 1997. That amounted to six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall Plan. British aid for Africa totalled £720 million last year. If that sum was spent annually for the next three centuries, it would cover the cost of Nigeria's looting. Corruption on such a scale was made possible by the country's possession of 35 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. That allowed a succession of military rulers to line their pockets and deposit their gains mainly in western banks.
Good luck there Gordon Brown and Bono. When you start to rip into the rulers of Africa and work from the inside out instead of pouring aid money down the bottomless pit, then you are doing something worth a damn.

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