LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Frost on Ibrahim's "Africa doesn’t need rescuing just a square deal"
News which highlights recent reversals in governance or bad elections in countries as wide-ranging as Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Niger or Guinea clouds what is a generally positive picture.
The UK government would agree with much of what Mo Ibrahim has written. It is true that conflict dominates the majority of media stories on Africa. Unfortunately this presents a one-dimensional picture of Africa which fails to do justice to an immensely complex and culturally rich continent.
Enormous strides have taken place in Africa over the last twenty years. Advances have been made in the development of democratic governance, in the opening up of civil society and the ability of citizens to hold their governments to account, in human rights and in the ending of the most protracted and debilitating conflicts. Peaceful transition has largely, although not entirely, replaced violent military change. There have been more than 60 multi-party elections in the last six years. News which highlights recent reversals in governance or bad elections in countries as wide-ranging as Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Niger or Guinea clouds what is a generally positive picture. Mo Ibrahim's Index of African Governance provides an invaluable reminder to us all of the overall picture and trajectory of African politics while at the same time holding African leaders up to scrutiny.
Acknowledging the positive developments is not, however, to downplay the daunting problems faced by Africa. Again the UK government would agree that while the sustainable solutions to Africa's problems lie within the continent itself, the international community must also play its part. In 2004, then Prime Minister Tony Blair brought together seventeen independent people, mainly from Africa, to form a Commission for Africa. The aim was to examine development issues and stimulate development in the continent. Their starting point was that Africans must drive their own development with rich nations supporting their efforts.
The Commission's Report, endorsed by the African Union and the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles, identified many of the issues which Mo Ibrahim refers to. These include trade access and infrastructure development, improvements health and education, essential if the Millennium Development Goals are to be met in 2015; the integration of African countries into the world economy; and the accountability of African Countries to their people. The UK is working to support development in these areas and is on target to meet the 0.7% of GDP spending commitment on international development. We encourage others, both within Africa and outside, to respond similarly, and we welcome the work by Mo Ibrahim and other influential opinion-makers to ensure that the commitments, made at Gleneagles and subsequently, are met.