Accessibility links

Relief Agencies View G-8 Aid Plan with Skepticism - 2002-06-28


African leaders are hailing the G-8's decision to boost aid to the continent, but economists and relief agencies in Africa are viewing the plan with skepticism.

Critics say the plan does not go far enough to battle what they say are the root causes of poverty and economic mismanagement in Africa.

African leaders attending the G-8 summit in Canada on Thursday praised the decision to boost aid as a new beginning in what they said is a developing partnership between the richest nations and the world's poorest continent.

In their plan, the G-8 nations agreed to increase investment and aid to African nations that carry out economic reforms and work to end corruption. The plan came in response to the initiative known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development, or NEPAD, which was presented at the summit by the leaders of Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, and Algeria.

Economist Barry Mody at the Ivory Coast Center for Economic and Social Research, a private think tank in Abidjan, says the plan is a good start. But he says he has doubts about whether it can be implemented in countries with long histories of corruption and instability.

"The willingness of the heads of state and the government to implement this good governance is probably a good starting point, but how do we implement it in reality? On this continent, if you are in power, you do whatever you want to do," he said. "There is no accountability to your people, to your parliament. Do you think that investors will accept that? To put their money in a country where there is no accountability? I don't think so."

The NEPAD initiative seeks to guarantee good governance by setting up a system of peer review, in which African governments would monitor each other, rather than relying on outside observers. Mr. Mody doubts this system will work. The leaders themselves, he believes, did not demonstrate any commitment to accountability when they devised the initiative without consulting their people.

"I'm not sure this was [done] in the democratic way," he said. "So, as a result, the implementation will be done in the same way. Some people will grab the money. They'll work with some investors and we will never see, we will never be aware of who benefits from it."

Among the toughest critics of the G-8's aid plan are relief agencies that work in Africa. They say the plan is disappointing because it falls far short of addressing the continent's needs in its battle against AIDS, malaria, and hunger.

Despite their differences in opinion regarding the new plan to help Africa, the leaders who pushed it and the critics who find flaws in it agree one thing: It is a good beginning in the effort to improve conditions on the continent.

XS
SM
MD
LG