News / Africa

Euro Debt Crisis Sidelines G20 Efforts to Focus on Developing World

Development groups push for more progress on development aid, accountability and corruption

Multimedia

Audio
William Eagle

The president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, had planned to use his leadership of the G20 this year to highlight some of the needs of the developing world. Instead, the focus of G20 summit in Cannes has been on the threat of a Greek default and destabilization of the eurozone.

Europe’s financial crisis affects more than the 27 members of the European Union.

“There is a direct relationship between the crisis in Europe and flows of resources to Africa and development efforts around the world,” says Sam Worthington of InterAction, the largest U.S. coalition of non-profit organizations devoted to debt relief and development.

“Europe is one of the biggest centers of remittances around the world,” he explained. “As Europe gets poorer, those remittances begin to dry up. European banks have a large presence in Africa, bank credits will also continue to dry up. And as European countries begin to try to deal with their own fiscal crises, one of the first areas where we fear we will see cuts is in official development assistance.”

Famine and food prices

It’s ironic, Worthington said, that the debt crisis in the eurozone comes at the same time as the first famine of the 21st century in the Horn of Africa, with 13 million people being food insecure and another 750,000 people at risk of starvation. Contributing to the situation is the growing volatility of food prices, an issue that is also to be considered by G20 leaders.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) walks with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, after Obama's arrival at Espace Riviera for the G20 summit in Cannes, France, November 3, 2011.
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) walks with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, after Obama's arrival at Espace Riviera for the G20 summit in Cannes, France, November 3, 2011.

“The solutions being offered here in Cannes,” said Worthington, “are important but not sufficient. One of the big proposals being debated in the communiqué right now are issues of food stocks in West Africa. At this point in time, it looks likely that some form of food reserves will be put in place but only for humanitarian uses in Africa. The broader question of regulation of food prices and the deeper fulfillment of the commitment made by the G8 at L’Aquila for f 22 billion dollars [in development aid] still remains elusive.”

Strengthening the safey net

Another goal of the G20 is to find new ways to improve the social safety nets of developing countries and support for development, education and climate mitigation. One proposal, back by Microsoft entrepreneur Bill Gates, calls for a tax on international financial transactions.
Some countries, including the United States, Britain, Japan and Brazil, oppose the tax.
“The UK will clearly not be on board,” said Worthington, “so it will come down to Germany, France and other euro countries, a process that will need to make it through to [European Union headquarters in] Brussels.

“It is unlikely France will act alone,” he continued. “We are seeing some support from South Africa and other groups. African countries have largely been silent in support for this tax, but if it is put in place it could generate up to 60 billion dollars in revenues.”

He said supporters of tax are using a two-part approach.

“The real question is what will be its uses?” he said. “Some in Germany say it should be used to offset deficits within European countries themselves. The battle for the tax itself is a big one. But the bigger battle is will this tax be used as a tool to finance some of the repayment effort s and financial efforts associated with Greece ?

The concern of NGOs, he said, is that the poor and development projects will not benefit in the long run.

French gendarmes stand near an anti G20 demonstrator who takes part in protest against globalization and tax havens, at the French-Monaco border in Cap d'Ail, November 3, 2011.
French gendarmes stand near an anti G20 demonstrator who takes part in protest against globalization and tax havens, at the French-Monaco border in Cap d'Ail, November 3, 2011.

“Our real cry here in Cannes,” said Worthington, “is that the problems the developed world is currently experiencing should not mean solutions are done on the backs of the world’s poor.”

He adds that with global interconnectedness, the answers to the sluggish world economy require inclusive solutions.

Inclusive growth means support for development efforts.

“The growth in Africa and in other parts of the world are now central to the well-being of people [everywhere],” he said.

“So there is now a direct economic relationship between development efforts in Africa, growth in African countries and the longer term global recovery,” said Worthington

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs