G7 ignore aid promises to Africa

Published: 12 February 2007

Oxfam's response to G7 ministers meeting.

G7 finance ministers meeting today in Essen, Germany failed to discuss aid to Africa and continued to renege on their promises to increase aid made at the G8 in 2005.

Discussion of Africa was instead limited to the issue of good financial governance.

Speaking at the end of the meeting Max Lawson of Oxfam International said:

"It is unacceptable for the G7 to talk about responsibility in Africa whilst reneging on their own promises to increase aid. What is needed is more urgency and less excuses.

"How is it that G7 ministers can talk about good governance and responsibility in Africa while at the same time reneging on their own promises and responsibility to the continent? Good financial management is a critical issue and we welcome plans to increase support for improving transparency. But for many African countries like Tanzania and Mozambique that have already improved accountability and increased their own spending to fight poverty, more aid is urgently needed now to save lives and get more children into school. They are fulfilling their side of the bargain, it is time that the G7 met their's.

"The financial cost to the G7 of increasing aid is tiny – one tenth of military spending. But the human costs of the G7 breaking their aid promises are huge – millions of people will continue to die each year from preventable diseases, 80 million children will not go to school and millions of Africans will be condemned to a life of poverty."

Despite promises to increase aid at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, development aid to Africa fell by 2.1 percent in 2005. Chancellor Merkel has made Africa a centrepiece of the German G8 presidency.

"Germany's reputation is on the line. Will the German G8 be remembered as the year of broken promises to Africa? Chancellor Merkel has four months to prove the world wrong.

"German Finance Minister Steinbruck must put Africa at the top of the agenda at the next finance ministers meetings in April and May, and press his G7 colleagues to announce clear year-on-year increases in their foreign aid budgets to meet the promise to give 0.7% of Gross National Income in overseas development aid. He must also ensure that African countries such as Tanzania, that have shown how aid can work, are represented," added Lawson.

Increased aid and debt relief has enabled the Tanzanian government to more than double its education budget over the last four years and substantially increase its health spending. The result is an extra 3.1 million children in primary school, infant mortality rates have been reduced by a third and mortality rates for under-fives have fallen by almost a quarter.

Contact Information

For more information or interviews with Max Lawson, please contact:
Tricia O''Rourke, Oxfam International Media Officer on +44 7989 965 359, or tricia.o''rourke@oxfaminternational.org.