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Vol 43 No 4

Published 22nd February 2002

Saying yes, saying no

Rich countries aren't offering much aid or freer markets in response to Africa's development plan

Africa is enjoying, or perhaps suffering, a spring offensive by Western leaders. France's President Jacques Chirac hosted 13 African leaders in Paris on 8 February; British Prime Minister Tony Blair met Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, John Kufuor, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Abdoulaye Wade on his 6-10 February whirl through Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Senegal; United States President George W. Bush is hosting Presidents José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Festus Mogae of Botswana on 26 February at the White House; and the Group of 8's next summit host ,Canada's Jean Chrétien, is also planning a trip to six or seven African states in April. This Western wooing is part of the run-up to the G8 summit in June, in Kananskis,Canada, when the world's richest countries are to announce an action plan in response to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NePAD), launched at last year's Organisation of African Unity summit in Lusaka, Zambia (AC Vol 42 No 14). The new thing about NePAD is reciprocity. Africa commits itself to political and economic reforms, monitored by its own institutions; the G8 states agree to open their markets, boost aid and encourage private investment in Africa. The NePAD implementation committee, headed by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo and Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, are designing an African contract on codes and standards of both economic and political governance ­ legal guarantees on property, free and fair elections.

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