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Aid Group Calls For G-8 to Cancel African Debts, Increase Aid, Improve Trade

In Kenya, an international aid agency is recommending ways G8 leaders can reduce poverty in Africa.

A report from ActionAid International outlines the trade, aid, health, and environmental policies of rich nations and how they affect Africans throughout the continent.

The report also lists what rich nations can and should do to tackle poverty, disease, and other problems in Africa.

Njeri Mwangi-Kinyoho is African coordinator of the Global Campaign Against Poverty, a world-wide initiative that presses for poverty eradication.

She said rich countries must cancel the enormous debts of all African countries, some of which spend up to 15 percent of their budgets on debt servicing rather than social spending. "We also want increased volumes of aid. That aid must also improve in terms of its quality and how it is delivered. We want trade justice. We want them to dumping into our markets. We want them to stop pushing trade-distorting policies," she said. "We want them to open up their markets and allow for fair competition with our products from down south."

Ms. Mwangi-Kinyoho also called for African governments to fight corruption and be more accountable to their citizens.

The world's seven-largest industrial countries and Russia are meeting in Glenneagles, Scotland on Wednesday and Thursday. The summit is chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had promised to put Africa on the top of its agenda.

At the launch of ActionAid's report in Nairobi, Ugandan activist Henry Nickson Ogwal, who works with people displaced by rebel attacks in Northern Uganda, called for G8 leaders to put an end to the arms trade.

Mr. Ogwal said Uganda has about 320,000 small arms in private hands. He also called for the leaders to help victims of conflict. "They can stop the arms sales. They can increase aid that can actually ensure that all the people that have been affected by conflict are supported - for example, to receive life supporting anti-retroviral drugs. This is not a charity to those who are positively living with AIDS - it is a right," he said.

The ActionAid report paints a bleak contrast between life in the west and in Africa. It says the average income for someone living in the seven largest industrial countries is 57 times that of someone in Africa.

Every day, says the report, Africa spends $30 million servicing its debt, which would be enough to provide anti-retroviral treatment to every African who needs it.