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G8 Summit to Begin this Weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia

The G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia gets underway this weekend. Russian President Putin has decided the even should focus on such things as energy and infectious diseases. The summit follows last year’s G8 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, during which many promises were made regarding Africa. But how well has the g-8 done in fulfilling those promises?

Dapo Oyewole is executive director of the Center for African Policy and Peace Strategy. From London, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the legacy of Gleneagles.

“I think it’s a bit too early for us to rate the G8. But what we can do is look at the kind of commitments and the outcomes of the whole 2005 process, which is otherwise known as the Africa agenda. And of course this consisted of both the Commission for Africa initiative of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair, which more or less fed into the G8 presidency and the EU presidency of the UK. But more significantly was the event in Gleneagles in July 2005. And the central focus, which the UK had put at the top of the agenda, was Africa. And the outcomes were, I can say, half and half…some progress was made in terms of the commitment. We found that in the area of debt cancellation…we found that in the area of aid…but there was no progress whatsoever, no significant progress in the area of trade,” he says.

Oyewole says it is difficult for G8 leaders to carryout some of their pledges because it could result in making life more difficult for their people at home. One such example is the lifting of agricultural subsidies, which could place an extra burden on farmers in G8 countries.

As for the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, the issues of energy and infectious diseases are at the top of the agenda. Does this mean Africa is forgotten at the summit?

Oyewole says, “It’s quite apt a question because I only came back from Russia last week and where I met with President Putin, himself. And these questions were put to him. And his perspective is that the fact that Africa is not squarely put in as a line in germs of the agenda, as opposed to energy, security, infectious diseases or weapons of mass destruction, his position is that all those issues are still pertinent to Africa…his perspective is that all the issues put together are development issues. And what we can expect to see is a recommitment or reaffirmation of the decisions that were made in Gleneagles.”

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