The G8 on Africa and development

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The G8 continues its meetings in Tokayo, Japan, and there has been a flurry of press releases and statements. Just a week ago, the Financial Times was speculating that the G8 leaders might backtrack on the commitment made at Gleneagles to increase aid to Africa to $25 billion by 2010. However, it looks like the G8 leaders have reaffirmed this commitment in a press release on Development and Africa:

At the mid-point to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), although progress has been made, significant challenges remain. We renew our commitment to these goals by reinvigorating our efforts, and by strengthening our partnerships with, as well as encouraging the efforts of, the developing countries based on mutual accountability...We are firmly committed to working to fulfill our commitments on ODA made at Gleneagles, and reaffirmed at Heiligendamm, including increasing, compared to 2004, with other donors, ODA to Africa by US$ 25 billion a year by 2010.

Deeper into the press release, after addressing health, water, and education, the G8 leaders also give a shout out to the private sector:

We encourage African countries to improve their investment climate and to continue their efforts for economic and governance reform to stimulate the increased flows of private capital...We are committed to working with Africans to create conditions that can lead to an increase of private investment through various measures.

And just a little further down, the G8 agrees to:

...encourage companies to consider how, in pursuing their business objectives, they can contribute to poverty reduction.

The odd thing, it seems to me, is that nowhere in this press release is there any mention made of connections between private sector-led growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in health, water, or education.

To take but one example, the press release stresses the need to train large numbers of health workers to achieve a threshold of 2.3 health workers per 1000 people. Training all these new health workers will be expensive, and the private sector will undoubtedly have to be a part of it, as private education providers have grown dramatically all over the world. Yet no connection is made between improving the climate for the private sector and increasing the healthcare workforce. Connecting the dots could make both of the G8's goals—private sector-led growth and the Millennium Development Goals—more achievable.   


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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