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Former British PM Blair Says New Players Changing Face of Aid in Africa

Victor Beattie

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says there are real questions regarding how wealthy nations can cooperate better with China in developing countries.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks with VOA's Victor Beattie.

Attending the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, Blair told VOA by phone he thinks, "China is now ... investing in infrastructure in Africa today more than the World Bank, so that just gives you a sign of how deep and big the Chinese influence in Africa is."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, second from right, during the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, November 29, 2011.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, second from right, during the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, November 29, 2011.

He said the way China is using aid to "develop those countries politically and socially" is an debate worth having. But he added that "what is important is that the traditional donor community is working with both of them."

The former British leader also said major U.S. philanthropic groups such as the Gates Foundation are also having a dramatic effect on helping the poor in Africa.

He said he is optimistc about the future of Africa because of a new generation of leaders on the continent and an increase in democratic elections over the past decade.

He said the conference in South Korea is coming at a good time given the budget difficulties in the West, particularly European nations. He said with possible aid budgets being cut, it is important to ask "how do we make sure that for every dollar we’re spending, we’re getting something out of it?"

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