German Chancellor to press G8 on Africa aid promises

Africa has leapt to the top of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s agenda for a Group of Eight (G8) summit in June.

Aid groups hope she can convince other G8 nations to live up to the generous debt and development aid commitments they made to Africa in 2005 — amid signs that some, including Germany, are falling dangerously behind on their promises.

“The time for setting targets in the international community is over,” Merkel said in a May 24 speech to the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. “Now it is about delivering and there is a great deal of political credibility at stake.

In a G8 meeting two years ago in Gleneagles, Scotland, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a commitment from world leaders to double development aid to Africa by 2010,

�We will live up to our promises,� Merkel said. �I say that quite clearly.”

The summit in the Baltic coast resort of Heiligendamm is expected by some to be a shot in the arm for efforts to reduce African poverty after the continent’s problems slipped off the agenda at last year’s G8 meeting in St. Petersburg.

Carbon credit revenue seen as aid tool

Merkel is pushing new ways of tackling African poverty. For instance, she wants to use revenue from the auction of carbon emissions certificates to help fund Germany’s development aid goal of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product by 2015.

She also has encouraged German firms to invest more in Africa, part of an increasing awareness among G8 nations of the rising influence of Chinese companies in Africa.

In Brussels May 24, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and African Union President John Kufuor appealed for European Union countries to keep their aid promises. Barroso said he had written to EU leaders noting some EU countries had not respected commitments and some had done so mainly by writing off outstanding debts of developing countries. (HNN 4/24/07)

“I believe that Germany will not allow the ball to drop,” said Nigerian World Bank executive Obiageli Ezekwesili at one conference in May. “It will re-energize the focus on Africa that we saw in Gleneagles.”


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