Among those reacting to the Blair Africa commission report is the international aid organization, Oxfam. Irungu Houghton is the Pan African policy advisor for OXFAM-UK. From Nairobi, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the report’s recommendations.
He says, “Generally OXFAM has welcomed the Commission for Africa report…It does have some extremely bold recommendations and definitely will mark the heightening of expectations across Africa and from non-governmental organizations that we will see some progress on the key issues for 2005.”
Asked how other G8 nations might react, Mr. Houghton replies, “Well, I think for all G8 nations that are committed to the statement we saw coming out of the G7 finance ministers meeting a month ago on debt cancellation – there was a clear, explicit call for debt cancellation, 100 percent across Africa. This is an important step forward because it provides the evidence base for why such a policy decision would be important for Africa at this point.”
The commission said that liberalization should not be forced on African countries, saying they should be allowed to decide when to open their markets. The OXFAM spokesman says, “I think the Commission for Africa has really thrown down the gauntlet for rich countries and in particular, the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO….The liberalization processes have been largely detrimental to economic growth in Africa and it has weakened Africa in terms of its ability to not only produce for its own citizens but to be able to trade in a competitive way with the rest of the world.”