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Rich nations falter on Africa promises: Bono

June 29, 2006

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The world’s richest countries are
falling short on pledges made to Africa a year ago on providing
life-saving AIDS drugs, expanding trade and boosting aid, said
activist rock star Bono.

Bono and fellow Irish rocker Bob Geldof have used their
fame to fuel a global campaign for more aid to Africa,
organizing Live 8 concerts around the world last year to press
Group of Eight industrial leaders meeting in Gleneagles,
Scotland, to wipe out poverty.

“They started to climb an Everest but over the past year
they got lost at base camp,” Bono told Reuters in an interview
after the release of a progress report by his lobby group Debt,
AIDS, Trade, Africa group, or DATA.

“I’d like to think that the DATA report is a kind of a GPS
system for how to get back on track and back up the mountain,”
said Bono, who formed DATA with Geldof.

The report said wealthy countries had delivered on their
promise to cancel the debts of 19 poor countries, most of them
in Africa, with a total of 44 countries eligible under programs
of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

“Overall, there is one cheer on debt, half a cheer on AIDS
and boos and wolf-whistles for what is happening on trade,”
Bono said.

The report said relief from burdensome debt payments in
Cameroon, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia has already
swelled spending on education, health and the battle against

HIV/AIDS.

MORE NEEDED TO FIGHT AIDS

Still, the report said much more was needed to provide
access to drug therapy to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in
Africa.

Globally, funding to fight HIV/AIDS has grown to $8.3
billion in 2005 from $300 million in the late 19902. In Africa,
the number of people with access to treatment rose to 800,000
last year from 100,000 in 2003.

DATA said, however, that donors were spending half of what
was needed to meet the goal of getting AIDS treatment to at
least four million Africans by 2010.

The report commended the United States as the largest donor
on funding HIV/AIDS programs in Africa, and Britain and France
for their contributions to a Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Canada, Italy, Japan and Germany were laggards, it said.

The report castigated the G8 for the lack of promised
progress to reach a world trade deal that would open markets
for African products and increase aid for trade.

As trade negotiators haggled over farm products, which
Africa wants to export, in talks in Geneva on Thursday, DATA
said wealthy countries lacked ambition, a sense of urgency and
focus on assisting Africa through a trade deal.

It said the G8 was collectively off target in 2005 on their
promises to double aid to Africa by 2010. Only France was on
track for its 2010 goal, the report said.

To keep to its aid promises, the report said the wealthy
countries should have increased aid by $3.6 billion last year,
but only reached $1.6 billion in 2005.

Reaching the 2010 goal of doubling aid to Africa would
require G8 countries to increase funding by $4 billion in 2006,
the report said.


Source: reuters



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