Sunday, 11 March 2007

Commission for Africa: Broken Promises?

Today is the two year anniversary of the Commission for Africa Report and Bob Geldof, the man who inspired it, is angry. Speaking to the BBC’s Radio 4 Programme, he has criticised European leaders for losing interest in Africa since the 2005 G8 agreement that drew on the Commission's work. Broken promises over Africa would "kill the poor" on that continent, he says.

The good news is that there are at least some reasons to be optimistic. Germany has placed Africa on the agenda for its 2007 G8 Presidency with a clear opportunity to encourage governments to deliver on previous promises. The Africa Progress Panel – the follow-up mechanism recommended by the Commission for Africa and long-argued for by the UK Government – is finally up and running, under the leadership of Kofi Annan, and is due to publish its first progress report imminently.

And perhaps most importantly, there has actually been some tangible progress in implementing the Commission’s key recommendations – including on those measures, such as infrastructure and investment climates, needed to stimulate growth and enterprise, the only long-term option for poverty reduction in Africa (see, for example, the latest update from the UK’s Department for International Development, and the reports from the Africa Partnership Forum).

Ultimately, it is up to each of us, individually and collectively, to ensure that the bold promises made two years ago are translated into lasting change for Africa and its people. If promises are broken, we’ll all be partly to blame.

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