I went to my first press conference ever, with the Minister for International Development, Douglas Alexander. Figures were flying around like bees on honey with millions being allocated to protecting emerging markets such as Brazil and India. More billions to be given to the poorest countries through the usual international finance institutions to stimulate trade. A Rapid Response Social Fund with the aim of accessing very poor, the old and destitute at short notice. The UK is of course on target with it’s millennium goals (unlike other Western countries who are falling back on their commitments.)
Presented as glossy and sparkling but in reality all of these proposals are dull, staid more of the same old regurgitated polices. Daudi and I were just interviewed together with Bob Geldof on why Africa despite the conversation on development and aid to the continent is so under represented at the G20 and similar forums. Bob was quite frank in saying it was the usual dominance and failure to take a more inclusive approach to the global discussion. I believe it goes further than this. It is ironic when you think of the lack of African representation considering the West’s dependency on Africa and not the other way around. This has been from slavery through colonialism to the present. Resources such as oil, copper, gold, silver, chromium, coffee, cocoa and more recently cash crops for feeding the West. Unfair trade policies, low commodity prices, failure to adequately tax companies operating in Africa and the complicity of Western governments and banking institutions in providing tax havens for money stolen by African politicians. If aid is not in itself a business would it not be preferable for example to pay fair prices for Africa’s resources?
Asked if anything positive will come out of this Summit – Not if one is thinking in terms of a major shift in policy towards Africa and Africans taking the initiative to come up with new strategies for development as I mentioned in my previous post. But I do agree with Bob one possible positive outcome may come from changes in Tax Haven laws whereby monies stolen by corrupt politicians is returned to the countries and access to tax havens is shut down. would be one positive outcome.