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UNCTD Calls for Doubling of Africa Aid - 2001-09-12

The United Nations has called for a major infusion of aid money to Africa as part of a global effort to revive the continent's economy.

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) warns that poverty will only get worse in sub-Saharan Africa without a major overhaul of international and domestic policies.

The organization issued a report on Tuesday calling for aid to the continent to double. U.N. officials say Africa will need $100 billion over the next decade.

The U.N. report also calls for massive debt relief and fairer trade rules so that African farm commodities can be sold at higher prices to developed countries.

The U.N.'s special trade coordinator for Africa, Kamran Kousari, told reporters in London that African economies urgently need stimulus. "We are not too optimistic about the future if there is not a major shift in policy with regard to Africa, both at the national level and at the international level," he said.

For Mr. Kousari, a top priority must be to relieve Africa of a continent-wide debt burden of $64 billion. "We propose," he said, "that a sort of independent commission of high-level experts be established to look at the sustainability of African debt and for donors and multilateral financial institutions to agree to write off debt that such a commission would consider as unsustainable."

U.N. officials say Africa faces a steep climb toward economic growth, since per capita incomes are 10 percent lower now than they were in 1980.