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Africa Economic Summit Ends in Cape Town

A three-day summit to help promote growth in Africa ended today in Cape Town, South Africa. The meeting of the World Economic Forum brought together more than 600 businessmen and government officials from more than 40 countries. One of their goals was to discuss ways of increasing support from the world’s leading industrial nations, or G-8, for a British plan to increase aid to Africa. That plan, called the Africa Commission Report, calls for each industrialized country to double its aid to the continent. G-8 leaders will discuss the report when they meet in Scotland next month.

This week, in comments carried by the US and African press, President Bush seemed to downplay US support for the plan. He said the call for the new increase in aid to Africa did not, in his words, “fit into our budgetary process.” Mr. Bush made his remarks shortly after meeting with South African president Thabo Mbeki in Washington.

But President Mbeki had a different interpretation of Mr. Bush’s remarks – and explained it when speaking today at the end of the summit.

Haiko Alfeld is the World Economic Forum’s director for Africa. He told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that Mr. Mbeki said the American president agrees with the need to help with Africa’s economic recovery but disagrees with the lending “facility,” or mechanism, now being suggested by the Commission report. Part of the plan would raise funds by borrowing against future pledges.

President Mbeki says the British plan responds to a commitment by the G-8 to support Africa’s own development plan – the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It seeks funding for countries that have received high marks for democratization and economic management.