African leaders urged to press G8 to fulfil pledges

African leaders meeting in Banjul, the Gambian capital from Saturday should press the Group of Eight (G8) to make good the promises they made at their summit in Gleneagles, Scotland last year, especially on tackling poverty in Africa, a group of civil society organisations said here Friday.

The group, led by four African and international NGOs said
African leaders should hold their G8 counterparts to account
ahead of the next G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Representatives of the World Vision, African Forum and Network
on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), the Education for all Campaign
Networks of Gambia and Oxfam, at a press conference here, reviewed
progress on the G8 promises.

They said the African Union (AU) leaders should demand « deeper
and wider debt relief » for all African countries, noting that
the implementation of the commitments by African governments
on education for all, and agreement on universal access to
treatment were key to poverty reduction.

The civil society groups also enjoined African Heads of State
to seek agreement on multilateral trade rules that meet the
interests of the people of Africa and scrutinise alll
economic partnership agreements.

« While G8 leaders continue to congratulate themselves on their
own pledges, one mother dies every minute and a child dies
needlessly every three minutes due to lack of serious delivery
of those promises, » declared Irungu Houghton of Oxfam.

He also urged African government must keep their own promises
to tackle corruption head on and increase spending on
education and health.

« Debts continue to tear down schools, clinics and hospitals in
a way that are more devastating than war. Is our generation going
to be more than a series of broken promises? How we live is far
removed from how we ought to live, » noted Charles Mutiso,
executive director of AFRODAD.

Amboka Wameo, the African Advocacy Advisory of World Vision said
funds available since Gleneagles for poor countries to fight
poverty was much less than what was announced by the G8.

The Education For All Campaign Networks in the Gambia urged
AU Member States to take seriously, the commitments made in
Dakar (Senegal) 2000 and Gleneagles 2005 on education for
all.

« Civil organisations have done a lot of advocacy on these
commitments, now is time for action, » said Matarr Baldeh,
the Network’s Coordinator.

He added: « We know education is one of the tools that could
eradicate poverty, and for African integration to move forward,
education must be high on the African Union agenda. »