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Summit Lauds Africa's Investment Potential

Media reports say President Bush seemed to distance himself from a plan supported by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to double aid to Africa. That plan – part of a report by the Commission for Africa – is under discussion at this week’s World Economic Forum, in Cape Town, South Africa. Government officials and business leaders at the summit are expected to lobby leaders of the leading industrialized, or G-8, countries when they meet in Scotland in July.

According to the press, President Bush said the plan does not, in his words, “fit our budgetary process.”

Among those covering the summit is Jonathon Katzenellenbogen, the international affairs editor of South African newspaper, Business Day. He told VOA reporter William Eagle that while President Bush’s remarks made the papers, it was not the main topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum’s15th African Economic Summit in Cape Town.

He says that’s probably because the United States has said before that it can not make long-term budgetary commitments, which is called for as part of the Commission for Africa’s international financing project for Africa. He says a more relevant question for many of those in attendance is how many countries will try to double their aid to Africa.

Mr. Katzenellenbogen says Zimbabwe has come up as part of the discussions at the summit. The UK high commissioner-designate to South Africa, Paul Boateng, said the industrial countries should look at the positive examples of democracy and privatization going on in Africa rather than focusing on Harare’s human rights and democratization record. And, Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa defended Zimbabwe’s crackdown on traders, saying it was attempt to reform the economy.

Also discussed at the conference was a 550 million dollar plan proposed by the Commission for Africa that would finance the study of property rights, regulations and other issues that affect Africa’s ability to attract foreign investment.

President Mbeki is expected to appear tomorrow on the last day of the summit.