Etim Imisim, This Day (Lagos)
June 14, 2005
African civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the African Union to be prepared to repudiate Africa’s multilateral debts, should the G8 summit scheduled for July fail to
agree on a 100 per cent debt cancellation for the continent without conditions.
The CSOs said that the continent spends US$15 billion to service debt in a year, and that Africa’s debt stock, which currently stands at US$330 billion, had been paid many times over. “Therefore, the continent does not owe any creditors,” the group said in a communique it issued at the end of a two-day conference at Abuja, June 8-9, which
was attended by over 30 CSOs from across Africa. “The G8 must act now to respond to the call for unconditional and total debt cancellation for Africa to meet the MDGs,” said Rev. David Ugolor, the coordinator of Ecowas Network on Debt and Development (ECONDAD).
“Otherwise, we shall be mobilising our people and government to repudiate the odious debt.”
Ugolor said he welcomed the announcement by the G8 at the weekend that it was canceling US$40 billion for poor Third World countries’s debts, most of which are African, but regretted that “the continent would not be able to undergo the painful reforms” that are likely to follow the rich nations’ kind gesture.
He added also that the reprieve was selective and had the tendency to create a division among African countries, as the nations favoured and those not favoured can begin to see themselves in different camps in global politics.
He argued that Nigeria deserved debt cancellation, but had been excluded from the list, and that “This is not a good signal for Africa.”
The Abuja conference was organised for the Regional Reality of Aid, where participants said that, despite the huge aid that had flowed to Africa over the years, the continent remained poor because aid had been used to exacerbate conflict at the expense of combating hunger and diseases.
The participants further said that aid should be divorced from the conditionalities that are often attached to it, and that Africa needed better quality and quantity of aid, as “more than two thirds of aid to Africa goes back to the rich North through overpriced, technical
assistance, cumbersome and ill-coordinated planning, monitoring and evaluation, excessive reporting requirements and administrative costs.” “It is time for G8 governments to move from rhetoric to reality by increasing real development aid to African countries,” said Ms. Moreblessing Chidaushe of African Forum on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), from Zimbabwe.
The theme of the conference was “Conflict, Security and Development,” organised by AFRODAD and ECONDAD.
“The AU to take a firm stand on corruption,” the group advised.