There is a "powerful consensus" among the majority of the world's "heavyweight donors" to double the amount of development aid being directed to Africa, but the fact that the United States is reluctant to double its aid to the region likely will be highlighted Tuesday when British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President Bush in Washington, D.C., the New York Times reports. Blair is expected to ask Bush to agree to a proposed "Marshall Plan" for Africa already endorsed by the leaders of other wealthy nations, including members of the European Union and Japan. These donors favor a "quick and bold surge" in aid that officials say will help Africa join the global economy, a view supported by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Blair's Commission for Africa and a panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. However, the United States advocates a more gradual increase in spending because it says poorer nations with "weak institutions" will not be able to use the funding "wisely," the Times reports (Dugger, New York Times, 6/5).
G8 Parliamentarians To Develop African Development Plan
Leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations, Africa and other European countries this week at the G8 Parliamentarians Conference in Scotland are expected to develop a development plan for Africa to be presented at the G8 summit next month, BBC News reports. The plan -- which is intended to accompany proposals from British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and the Make Poverty History campaign -- will include recommendations on diseases, debt, trade and gender equity on the continent. Director of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS program Dr. Jim Kim said that curbing the spread of HIV should be a priority for G8 leaders. "This conference gives world parliamentarians and policy-makers, some of the real experts on Africa for that matter, the chance to put on paper what they think needs to be done and when," he said. Gambian Vice President Isatour Njie-Saidy said, "For years we seem to have talked about the same Africa issues over and over again but the G8 summit at Gleneagles provides a chance for world leaders to take action on important issues such as sustainable development and trade barriers" (BBC News, 6/6).
Brown Outlines Plans for Debt Relief, Immunization Research Funding
Brown on Friday outlined what he called a "modern Marshall plan" for Africa, which proposes 100% debt relief and an International Finance Facility for immunization to encourage the development of malaria and HIV/AIDS vaccines, London's Guardian reports (Tran, Guardian, 6/3). Brown said the launch of an international finance facility for immunization, to be followed by the launch of a larger international finance facility, could raise $4 billion by 2015 and prevent five million deaths before 2015 and an additional five million after that year. Britain, France and Sweden already have agreed to contribute to the program, Brown said (Gardiner, AP/Macleans, 6/3). He also said plans would be announced "in the next few days" to encourage countries to make advance purchase agreements with pharmaceutical companies as incentives for companies to develop malaria and HIV/AIDS vaccines (Daily Mail, 6/3). Under the proposal, wealthy countries would agree to purchase large quantities of the vaccines from manufacturers if they are developed. In addition, Brown called for international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to relieve all debt owed by developing nations, followed by the cancellation of some debts the poorest nations owe directly to wealthy countries (AP/Macleans, 6/3). The money saved by debt relief would be used for education and health care in developing nations, Brown said (Daily Mail, 6/3). "This is not a time for timidity nor a time to fear reaching too high," Brown said, adding, "This is our chance to reverse the fortunes of a continent and to help transform the lives of millions" (Fraser, Herald, 6/4).
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