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G8 Summit to Focus More on Africa

Africa is expected to take center stage as leaders of the world’s most industrialized nations meet at the G8 summit today Monday in Japan. Some observers believe the group of eight rich nations will seek to convince skeptics in Africa by living up to previous promises made and possibly double aid packages to the continent. The summit has invited seven African heads of state to be present at today’s opening ceremony of the annual summit. United State President George Bush has said he would hold fellow leaders of the G8 to account for various pledges of aid made to Africa. Usman Mohammed is a senior political science professor at Nigeria’s University of Abuja. From the capital, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that today’s G8 summit might not be significantly different on Africa-related issues from previous ones.

“There have been some disappointments, but let me start with the hopes. Africans would hope for more aid in agriculture. You know we have the global food crisis and we would be looking up to the G8 to give a lot of subvention on the aid on agricultural inputs and research, and also to find lasting solutions to crisis-ridden areas such as the Zimbabwe crisis, and then of course the Darfur issue would come on the agenda as well,” Mohammed pointed out.

He said although previous pledges made to Africa have not been fulfilled, there is still hope things could turn around this time.

“Today’s (G8) meeting for the Africans is hope and though there have been disappointments with these G8 meetings, but that is quite a different analysis altogether, when you look at the events that have happened even at the last summit they had last year,” he said.

Mohammed said although U.S. President Bush could keep his word by holding fellow leaders accountable to their pledge to Africa, there could also be possible changes when he leaves office and another president takes over in his country.

“Well, a lame duck president cannot go far to hold anybody accountable, especially towards the twilight of the end of his administration. And let me tell you that there could be changes if the Democrats come to the center of leadership in the United States. But as well even if the Republicans continue, we might not witness what Bush has actually put in policy and then the implementation of the G8 in favor of the African countries,” Mohammed said.

He said some of the pledges made during past G8 Summits have not been fulfilled.

“So, we believe that is just a statement to put them in check about the pledges of the G8 towards the African countries have been abysmally very, very disappointing all along since last year. When you look at the commitments of those G8 countries, it is something to be really ashamed off,” he said.

Mohammed said the presence of seven African heads of state at today’s G8 summit would have little or no influence on possible decision made towards the African continent.

“Well, they (African heads of state) have been invited all along as observers, and if there is anything they will interact with these G8 guys over there and then that is it. They are just benchwarmers, and if there is anything they interact with those presidents on the level of their own capacities as African leaders or regional hegemons here in Africa. Besides that I don’t think they could make any difference or impact on the G8 decisions and policies on trade and investments in Africa and the world,” Mohammed pointed out.

He said any decision taken at the G8 summit might not have a spectacular impact on African issues.

“Especially, in Africa we might not witness any dramatic change on international economy relations between African countries and the G8,” he said.