Commission for Africa delivers stern test to G8

 CAFOD says the report of the Commission for Africa 'Our Common Interest' throws down a challenge to the G8 to either put up the necessary money or shut up with the empty rhetoric on development in Africa. The report calls for a doubling of aid by 2010 to $50 billion a year and an increase to $75 billion a year by 2015, it calls for 100 percent cancellation of debt, and it challenges the trade policies of the G8 rich countries. CAFOD's Head of Policy George Gelber said: "Taken together, the findings of the Commission for Africa would offer real hope if they were acted on by the world's richest countries. The report increases the pressure on the G8 countries to commit more money and introduce greater reform on trade if they are to live up to their promises on tackling poverty in Africa. "If the suggested increases in aid were delivered then it would have a massive impact on poverty in Africa. The lives of 70,000 children in Tanzania would be saved by 2015 if we doubled funding to public health programmes there. The report repeats the fact that aid works. Donors who still refuse to double their aid are morally isolated. "CAFOD welcomes the Commission's call for the wiping out of the unpayable debt of some of the world's poorest people. The report goes beyond the current thinking of the UK Chancellor Gordon Brown by calling for the cancellation of all the debt of Africa's poorest countries not just the interest they pay on their debts. CAFOD has witnessed the impact of partial debt relief with the building of schools and hospitals across the continent. A 100 percent debt cancellation will free African countries to spend even more on health, education and poverty reduction. "The report recognises that it is justice and not charity that Africa needs. To secure development gains, you need to act on the unfair international trade rules that keep Africa poor. Although the report does not offer radical thinking on trade, it underlines the harm done by the EU and US' current trade policies. It recognises the need for greater access to northern markets, a need to cut the subsidies that rich countries pay their farmers to overproduce, and that liberalisation should not be forced on African countries. "The approach to corruption in the report is welcome. The recognition that corruption is often symptomatic of capacity and resource deficits is new. CAFOD believes that tackling corruption forcefully is not an excuse to withhold aid. The promise to take on corrupters as well as the corrupted must now lead to prosecutions, punishments and the recapture of stolen assets. "The major challenge will now be one of implementation. The Commission for Africa shows the task ahead and what is needed from both the G8 and African governments. CAFOD campaigners and their Make Poverty History partners will be in Edinburgh on July 2nd in the run up to the G8 Gleneagles Summit to urge the world's richest countries to end the scandal of poverty in Africa."

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