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Vol 40 No 9

Published 30th April 1999


Whitehall's Africa team

After an eventful two years for politics and personalities, Africa is getting more space

Along with Washington and Paris, London is a key city for Africa specialists in diplomacy, academia and business but they break cover less often than their American and French counterparts. The sort of fanfare seen in Paris for the Francophone summit last November (AC Vol 39 No 24, Congo contradictions) or the 16-18 March Africa Ministerial Conference (AC Vol 40 No 7, Battle lines in Washington and Africa & Washington Who's Who) in Washington wouldn't work in Britain. 'I don't think the average Brit would want taxpayers' money used for 40 African governments to visit London - development projects in Mozambique yes, but Anglophone summits no,' a Whitehall official told Africa Confidential. The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat differs markedly from la Francophonie: with 54 members drawn from five continents (most of whom energetically bashed Whitehall's South Africa policy in the 1980s), the Commonwealth has shed much of its colonial baggage and its summits are usually held outside Britain.

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