Global recession threatens African development, Ban says

10 July 2009

Africa’s relative isolation from capital markets has not shielded it from the effects of the global economic turmoil, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, cautioning that development progress on the continent is in jeopardy.

Addressing the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations at a gathering on the impact of the global recession on Africa, Mr. Ban said that its chances of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, is in peril.

“The economic and financial crisis has set us back several years,” he said at the breakfast meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, laying out five areas in which action is critical.

Firstly, the Secretary-General said, aid to Africa must be increased, with assistance already having made a huge impact in combating AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Donors’ help has also boosted agricultural production, while support for education has led to gender parity in school in some African countries, he added.

Second, “we need to sound an alarm that aid flows must not be cut in the midst of the current crisis,” he told G8 leaders. Previous financial crises have led annual aid to Africa plummet by as much as 30 per cent, and “we cannot allow this to happen,” he stressed.

A re-affirmation of commitments to previous pledges is also essential, Mr. Ban said, with leaders at each of the last three G8 summits expressing their commitment to the targets of increasing development aid by $50 billion by 2010 – with half earmarked for Africa – set at Gleneagles in 2005.

Fourth, “Africa, perhaps more than any other region, needs us to ‘seal the deal’ on climate change in Copenhagen this year,” he said, referring to this December’s conference where countries are expected to wrap up negotiations on an ambitious new pact to slash emissions.

Lastly, African goods must have full access to global markets under the Doha round of trade negotiations, the Secretary-General said.

“We have a small window of opportunity to help poor countries access what they need to get ready for the virus,” he said. “If we do not take advantage of this window, the cost in human lives, economic development and stability could be too great to bear.”

 

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