London Indymedia

Get the G8 off Africa’s back

Saleh Achhala & Steve Daley | 31.05.2007 17:25 | G8 Germany 2007 | Globalisation | Repression | Social Struggles | London | World

Article by the education charity WORLDwrite examining prevailing attitudes on the ability of Africans to self govern and develop their economic and social potential. Explores poverty eradication & poverty reduction along with what debt relief really means in Ghana.

Includes comments by Ghanian Academics Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr and Dr. Yao Graham of Third World Network Africa.

Get the G8 off Africa’s back

When Bob Geldof interviewed Tony Blair earlier this month he said “We’re able to say to Africans, you know, here is the bargain. If you introduce accountability and transparency we will help fund infrastructure and grow your economies.”

However, Africans are keen and fully capable of governing themselves, Geldof’s and the G8s concern reflects their contempt and treats Africans like children. Yet the incapacity of G8 leaders and self appointed anti-poverty campaigners, to have faith in African states to act freely without strings severely constrains African economic and social possibilities.

As Dr. Yao Graham of Third World Network Africa concludes in the WORLDwrite documentary Damned by Debt Relief: “… Everything rotates around what donors want”. And what the donors want is short-term poverty reduction measures to make poverty tolerable rather then facilitate economic growth to eradicate it.

These donor inspired strategies “are looking at poverty as if it was a thing unto itself,” says Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr in Damned by Debt Relief. He remarks: “Poverty is a consequence – an important factor, but a consequence. If you don’t solve the problem of growth and development, you will not solve the poverty problem.”

Matt Phillips from Save the Children claims: " … as a result of debt relief measures agreed, 4 million people in rural Zambia now have access to free healthcare." However, in stark contrast the reality is that Zambians are unlikely to receive qualified medical treatment in a country that has only 600 doctors and 24 pharmacists for a population of over 11 million in 2006.

NGOs and donors make flattering claims for minimal improvements in basic needs as this fits what they see as a pro-poor agenda. As Dr. Yao Graham pointedly remarked after Gleneagles that 'a toilet, a school, emblazoned with the 'HIPC fund' gives the impression that we're getting something ... [but] if you cannot even develop agriculture, then even your capacity to create jobs, which generates incomes, is lost.

The real contest at Heiligendamm is not over the agenda but between African aspirations for the freedom to borrow and develop and G8 concern to call the shots.

Two years on, anti-poverty campaigners are again demanding that Africa be the subject of G8 deliberations. Under their umbrella coalition The World Can't Wait (the new name for the defunct Make Poverty History campaign), they have highlighted the double-counting of debt relief as aid and broken promises

The headline figure of $40 billion debt write-off seriously over egged the benefits for African Heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs). Their hypothetical savings in debt repayments to the World Bank and African development bank are deducted dollar for dollar from their allocations from their respective International Development Assistance (IDA) and Africa development fund (AfDF).

The campaign to portray Ghana or other poor countries as crushed by the weight of excessive debt repayments omits the full picture. Many African countries struggled to repay debts, but this was a symptom of economic atrophy through a lack of investment in infrastructure and industry.

African economies are in dire need of finance to create the conditions for economic growth. New borrowing to finance roads, railways, dams and power plants has the potential to generate real growth in agriculture and industry and it is clear that African governments are in the best place to know what's responsible or sustainable.

The incapacity of G8 leaders and self-appointed anti-poverty campaigners to have faith in African states to act freely without the strings of poverty reduction, good governance, or debt sustainability severely constrains African economic and social possibilities.

Demanding freedom and autonomy from G8 regulations rather then looking to the G8 as saviours would be doing our peers in Africa a favour.


Researched by Steve Daley’s & edited by Saleh Achhala for the charity WORLDwrite and Chew on It productions.

Join WORLDwrite on Thursday 7th June @ 7:30pm for a screening of ‘Damned by Debt Relief’ followed by an interrogation of prevailing myths by a panel of experts. For details visit

The WORLDwrite Centre
Millfields Lodge
201 Millfields Road
London, E5 0AL
Tel: 020 8985 5435

WORLDwrite and Chew on It have re-cut and released their documentary short Damned by Debt Relief part of their Pricking the Missionary Position series to coincide with the G8 summit.

Saleh Achhala & Steve Daley
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Hide the following 4 comments

worldrightwing freemarket capitalist agenda?

01.06.2007 09:41

WorldWrite's views are hardly compatible with your typical indymedia reader or anti-g8 protester.

Their views are also at odds with many other charitable NGOs that might be lobbying or campaigning around the G8 summit. WorldWrite wants 'ferraris for everyone' - they are a front for those seeking a freemarket capitalist free for all in africa.

They criticise attempts to provide the world's poorest with the rude necessities of survival, instead they want to see developing countries reach the same levels of industrialisation and consumption as the USA and it's suppliers. They campaign against sustainability and promote agribusiness and genetically modified crops. They point at large-scale developments in China as vastly preferable to "the currently accepted blueprint of sustainability".

They insist that ecological damage is an acceptable price to pay for development, making environmental 'concessions', such as allowing countries like Brazil and Ghana to clear cut their forests.

Much like the 'WiseUse' organisations set up in the USA, WorldWrite has all the hallmarks of a vehicle set up by rich corporate interests to undermine more progressive voices and push forward their own agenda of unfettered capitalist exploitation of what's left of the world.


rascist liberal claptrap

01.06.2007 11:12

When Bob Geldof interviewed Tony Blair earlier this month he said “We’re able to say to Africans, you know, here is the bargain. If you introduce accountability and transparency we will help fund infrastructure and grow your economies.”

What hippocritical shite. I am sick of people saying how corrupt Africa is and then ignoring how corrupt the UK,US and Europe are. Liberal middle class 'academic' (sic) overfed consumerist racist shite again on Indymedia. Overpaid academic ( sic) poverty pimps and charity behemoths are part of the problem. Sick of your trade solutions- fuck capitalism - you bourgois bastards. Make Poverty History was disgusting as is the new umbrella. You minerals and oil fdorconflict - they want there cake and to eat it mate.


Trade justice solutions

01.06.2007 21:50

Nestor, you have a problem with Make Poverty History trade solutions. Well, here are the demands below. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to which is/are the 'disgusting' one/s that should not happen?

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty (3) is a coalition of thousands of civil society organisations from around the world including Third World Network.

1. Make Poverty History trade demands (from 2005 manifesto)

- Action to ensure that governments, particularly in poor countries, can choose the best solutions to end poverty and protect the environment.
- An end to the export and other subsidies that damage the livelihoods of poor rural communities around the world.
- Laws that stop big business profiting at the expense of people and the environment.

2. World Can't Wait/Your Voice Against Poverty (June 2007) demands on trade justice
- no forcing poor countries to open their markets to unfair competition
- trade deals that help to fight poverty by promoting decent work – not exploitation
- fully support the elimination of trade barriers to the production of generic drugs for treating HIV/AIDS and other diseases on healthcare, education, water and sanitation

3. Global Call to Action Against Poverty - Trade Justice demands.

Developing countries must have the right to determine their own trade and investmentpolicies, putting their peoples’ interests first.
International trade rules and national trade policies should support sustainable livelihoods, promote the rights of women, children andindigenous people, and lead to poverty eradication. However trade rulesand policies and the imposition of harmful economic policy conditionalitieshave become the vehicle for the indiscriminate liberalization of developingcountry economies undermining sustainable development, increasingpoverty and inequality.

Therefore, we remind national governments of their international humanrights obligations, and call upon them to use their influence at the WorldTrade Organization, the International Financial Institutions and in regionaland bilateral trade agreements to:
•Ensure developing countries are not forced to open their markets andhave the flexibility to use tariffs for sustainable economic development.
•Protect public services from enforced liberalization and privatisation.
•Ensure a fair price for commodities, particularly for poor producers.
•Support the right to food and equitable access to land and naturalresources.
•Secure affordable access to essential drugs.
•Reject harmful regional and bilateral free trade agreements.
•Immediately end subsidies that lead to the dumping of cheap produce oninternational markets.
•Increase transparency and accountability to grassroots constituencies inthe formulation of international trade rules and national trade policies,while ensuring consistency with respect for workers’ rights and humanrights more broadly.
•Ensure developing countries have the flexibility to regulate foreigninvestment in the interests of their own development priorities.
•Regulate corporations to make them accountable to people andgovernments for their social, environmental and development impacts

Demand the solutions

WORLDwrite are muddled entryists with hidden agenda

02.06.2007 09:26

WORLDwrite may wish to associate themselves with the good work of Third World Network Africa. That organisation is part of the Global Call to Action on Poverty. The World Can't Wait event is aligned with the Global Call and in keeping with agreements made by the Southern-led global anti-poverty movement about mobilising in relation to this G8.

WORLDwrite spend too much time trying to split the global justice movement (just as some of their people attacked enviromental activists - given the background of WORLDwrite people you just have to have a healthy suspicion of what they are up to they have such a track record of entryism).

Why have a problem with anyone who appoints themselves to be an anti-poverty campaigners? How fantastic there is so many more global justice campaigners than before Make Poverty History? Of course, if it is a leading politician you have to look at what they do and not what they say. There is misrepresentation in this article (lines taken out of context) and conflation between what the G8 leaders do and say and what the campaigns that target them say and do.

WORLDwrite does itself an injustice by accusing campaigners in the UK of not being aware of the strings too often attached to poverty reduction measures and debt reduction as well as governance demands.

The G8 is an illegitimate body, but if it is going to meet, the opportunity to pressure those governments on global injustice and environmental destruction must take place. Infecting the G8 internal agenda with global justice issues is a good tactic if combined with vigilance on their policies, and it can work well across the spectrum including 'outside' tactrics and street action.

That African economies are in dire need of finance to create the conditions for economic growth is not exactly a ground-breaking revelation. Tony Blair said the same as WORLDwrite does here in South Africa this week. WORLDwrite calls for new borrowing and investment to finance infrastructure and investment but is silent here in how this will might be done, particularly without incurring more of the very same problems as debt and restructuring has done to date.

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