World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2007 Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Davos Forum Focuses on Aid to Africa
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World leaders and pop icons united on Friday in their call for rich countries to do more in helping Africa stand on its own.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the international community should not fail Africa, and should try to relaunch the Doha round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks.

"If we made all these commitments, but we can't get the world trade round going, I think ... it will have a demoralizing effect on the Africa agenda," British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a prominent panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos .

Trade ministers from the world major trading partners will meet in Davos Saturday to discuss how to revive the Doha round.

The Dora round, launched in 2001 with an aim of lowering trade barriers to help poor countries' economic development, has been stalled due to sharp differences among key WTO members on agricultural issues and market access.

"I think there is every chance they (talks) will get underway again. If it succeeds, it'll be great. If it fails, it'll be catastrophic," Blair said.

Irish rock star Bono, one of the few celebrity delegates invited this year, said there was still an unwillingness among developed nations in implementation of their commitments to Africa.

"I fear for the promises we made being kept," he said. "If we fail, it's corruption of the highest order."

South African President Thabo Mbeki called for the entire aid effort to be streamlined in order to increase efficiency.

"Let's not add new programs and new projects, we've identified enough of those and agreed on enough of those," he said. "Let's remove the things that block implementation."

Mbeki noted that what Africa really needs is improvement of capacity, rather than simple aid.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were also present at the panel discussion.

Two years after promises pledged during the Year of Africa and continued top billing on the G-8 agenda, the delivery in full is still lacking. As Africa drew attention every year at the Forum in recent years, the situation was hardly improved.

According to an projection released at the end of the panel discussion, the number of those who live under one dollar a day would be 400 million by 2015, and 18 million children would lose their parents to HIV and AIDS by 2010.

In 1980, Africa had 6 percent of the world trade, but in 2002 it had 2 percent of the world trade. If it would regain just 1 percent, that would generate 70 billion U.S. dollars, three times of the amount of the aid.

"So Africa is perfectly capable of helping itself, provided we, the western world, don't put barriers in its way," said Niall FitzGerald, chairman of Reuters who moderated the discussion.

(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2007)

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