G8 and Africa: Good, Bad and Ugly

Should western leaders be rooting in the public purse to find more money to aid Africa, or should they concentrate on setting exemplary standards to prevent beneficiaries on the continent and beyond, putting their hands in the till or the ballot box? With good news stories of African renaissance hard to justify, the scale of the problem may still be hidden.

The World Today Updated 15 October 2020 Published 1 June 2005 5 minute READ

Michael Peel

On my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa seven years ago, Sierra Leoneans fêted Prime Minister Tony Blair in a manner he has rarely enjoyed at home. People credited Britain with helping the government hire mercenaries to fight the brutal rebel Revolutionary United Front; one newspaper described the Prime Minister as one of the ‘heroes of democracy’. A 1999 British parliamentary enquiry found no evidence Blair knew of the mercenary activity in advance, but in 2000 he did authorise the deployment of hundreds of British troops to help end a civil war that had begun almost a decade before.

At next month’s meeting of the G8 leading economies in Gleneagles, Scotland, the Prime Minister will again try to show that Africa is central to his thoughts. As host and president of the G8, he will promote some of the development ideas outlined in a special British-created Commission on Africa report in March.

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