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Senagalese President Urges G8 to Pledge More than Money - 2002-06-21

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade says he hopes when the leaders of the industrialized countries gather in Canada next week for the G8 summit, they will make a strong commitment to Africa's development - a commitment that is more than financial.

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal does not want the G8 leaders to earmark a specific amount of development aid to Africa, but rather pledge what he terms a "common commitment" to help the continent. "I expect a great commitment from the G8 - not to announce any number of dollars because I think it's awkward to announce any number of dollars," he said. "Because I think there will be two reactions: First of all, on our side, many people will not be satisfied, because they will say that they have not repaired [made reparations for] slavery and colonialism."

Aid to Africa is expected to be a major topic during the G8 summit in Alberta, Canada. On Thursday, U.S. President Bush pledged to increase financial assistance to Africa, and said he would visit the continent next year.

President Wade met with President Bush during a visit to the United States earlier this week. He also spoke at the United Nations, where he called for more private sector partnerships in Africa.

During his stay in Paris, Mr. Wade suggested industrialized countries should make commitments to specific areas of African development, such as improving infrastructure. He says he would also try to persuade African countries to create the conditions that would make them more attractive to private investors. "Europe, the United States and Japan have been developed by the private sector, not by aid and public finance," President Wade said. "So for me, this is the most important thing."

Mr. Wade says development in eight sectors, including infrastructure, education, health and telecommunications, is critical for Africa's progress. He adds that, while eradicating AIDS and malaria are important, it is infrastructure that will help develop the continent.