- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

NAIROBI, Kenya Africans remained skeptical of any dramatic relief as leaders of the world's richest nations signed up on an ambitious aid plan for the continent yesterday.
"We believe that in aggregate half or more of our new development aid could be targeted at African nations that govern justly, invest in their own people and promote economic freedom," leaders of Group of Eight industrialized countries said at a summit in the Canadian Rockies.
But the document failed to earmark for Africa a portion of the new aid of $12 billion a year promised by the United States and European Union at a U.N. conference in March.
"Each of us will decide, in accordance with our respective priorities and procedures, how we will allocate the additional money we have pledged," the statement said.
The G-8 leaders were joined for the discussions by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the presidents of four African countries South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal.
The African countries were hoping for a commitment that 50 percent of future aid increases would be devoted to their region, but the United States and Japan raised objections to setting such a specific target.
As the G-8 leaders grappled with the Africa initiative modeled on the Marshall Plan that helped Europe's reconstruction after World War II Africans on the street and analysts wondered if any aid would be adequate.
They also feared the continent's enormous problems such as an AIDS epidemic and widespread corruption among its leaders could neutralize the benefits of the package.
"All these people do is talk, talk, talk," said Mercy Muigai, a poor Kenyan woman who was begging outside a Nairobi fast-food restaurant along with her three children. "Then if they do get any money from the Wazungu [white men], they just steal it for themselves. And what about us? We have no food. We have no schools. We have no future. We are just left to die."
Mrs. Muigai had not heard of the much-hyped African initiative, called the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), which called on the West to pump billions of dollars in annual investments into Africa in exchange for good political and economic governance.
The United Nations Development Program on Wednesday said only 10 of the 48 sub-Saharan African nations are on schedule to hit ambitious development targets set at the U.N. Millennium Summit.
Africa has gone backward by some measures, UNDP warned, saying that 300 million people half the continent's population live on less than $1 a day. That is about 25 percent more poor people than a decade ago.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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