Panel of world leaders mandated to evaluate progress on Africa warns the G8 that it is failing to deliver
The Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan, is today demanding international action to deal with the urgent threat of world food prices, while also calling for G8 leaders to take immediate steps to get their commitments to Africa back on target.
The Africa Progress Panel’s report, being launched today by Kofi Annan, Michel Camdessus and Tidjane Thiam in London, states that the world food crisis ”threatens to destroy years, if not decades, of economic progress” as “100 million people are being pushed back into absolute poverty”. “Unless some way can be found to halt and reverse the current trend in food prices there will be a significant increase in hunger, malnutrition, and in infant and child mortality”.
The Africa Progress Panel’s report also warns that, despite progress on debt relief and significant increases in assistance by individual countries, “the G8’s commitment to double assistance to Africa by 2010 is not likely to be fulfilled”. The report identifies a shortfall of US$ 40 billion in aid that needs to be filled if the G8 is to meet the targets set at Gleneagles. A key recommendation of the Commission for Africa Report, the eleven-member Africa Progress Panel was launched in 2007 as a unique and independent authority on Africa to focus world leaders’ attention on delivering their commitments to the continent.
In the report, which assesses the state of the continent in 2008, the Panel members highlight six policy areas requiring immediate attention at the forthcoming G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan:
- The food crisis – a range of measures must be undertaken to increase the quantity of food on international markets and to provide greater financial assistance to international agencies such as the World Food Programme and to the governments of affected countries.
- Aid levels and aid quality – G8 countries must urgently fund shortfalls against their targets to double assistance to Africa by 2010; these increases must be accompanied by clear timetables and increased transparency in order to improve the quality of aid
- Trade - countries must immediately review arrangements for stockpiling food, while a comprehensive rethinking of trade policy is needed to boost agricultural production around the world
- Climate change – the G8 must increase funding for renewable energy and invest in adaptation and the prevention of deforestation
- Infrastructure – cited by the private sector as its most serious constraint, strategies to connect farmers to markets must be developed in conjunction with efforts to increase access to water and improve sanitation
- Good governance – while there has been significant success in improving governance, the resolution of current crises requires greater and more consistent efforts by the African Union, individual African governments and the international community as a whole
Focusing on the emergence of new trading partners with Africa, the report states that China and other new entrants have brought the continent “new dynamism and significant new resoFocusing on the emergence of new trading partners with Africa, the report states that China and other new entrants have brought the continent “new dynamism and significant new resources”, creating “greater opportunities for Africa’s development”.
However, it counsels that “if Africa’s development is to stay on track, it is crucial for both old and new actors to comply with agreed-upon principles of co-operation in the areas of aid, trade, development finance, and debt sustainability”.
Kofi Annan, the Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, says: “Africa has made substantial progress in recent years. However, the current food crisis threatens to reverse many of the hard-fought gains that have been made. With 100 million people on the brink of abject poverty, the cost of food will not be measured in the price of wheat and rice, but in the rising number of infant and child deaths across Africa.”
“The G8 is also off-track. European leaders at the forthcoming European Council Summit must move decisively to fund shortfalls in aid, while Japan must demonstrate clear leadership during its Presidency of the G8, not least by addressing the stockpiling of food. Every G8 country has a critical role to play, by working together to deal with immediate threats and by honouring the longer-term commitments they have already made.
“The whole international community has a stake in seeing Africa become a secure, stable and prosperous continent. I firmly believe that what is achieved in the months ahead will be more than a test of leadership; it will also determine the very future of the continent.”