All pledges and no action as The G8 Summit convenes in Canada; What benefit for Africa and Africans?


The group of eight highly industrialised or rich countries known as G8 (or “Greedy 8”) will be attending the 36th G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada from June 25-26, 2010.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Deerhurst Resort, a very plush resort not for the majority poor in the world. It will be the fifth G8 Summit hosted by Canada since 1976. The G8 countries are United States, Canada, France, Japan, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, and Germany.

The group is also referred to as G8+5 and the five largest emerging economies are China, Mexico, India, Brazil and South Africa.

The ‘Greedy 8’ Summit has undergone reformations and is no longer the gathering of world political leaders.

The event is now characterised by the gathering of a wide variety of non-governmental organizations, activists and civic groups to congregate, albeit protests, to challenge the leaders in a multitude of issues; ranging from poverty to fair trade. The leaders of the G8 countries stonewall themselves whilst protesters always have it tough with security protecting the leaders who are being entertained to delicacies including lobsters.

President Obama
President Obama

The theme for this year’s summit in Canada is “Recovery and New Beginning.” Recovery because of the recent recession; and “New Beginning”, well the world is waiting to know what that means.

Also on the agenda of the summit will be an “Africa outreach” session. Canadian Prime Minister Harper has invited five African leaders considered to be the darling of the G8 (“Greedy 8”) leaders to attend.

They include Presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt; Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia; Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal; Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi. Conspicuously missing is Ghana’s President Attah Mills and it is understandable considering the role oil now plays in geopolitics highly influenced by the G8 leaders.

Leaders of the major international organizations including Africa Union, Commonwealth of independent countries, United Nations, World Trade Organisation, WHO, etc. have also been invited to attend.

Africa once again is also on the agenda. “A tentative agenda for the 36th G8 summit will include some issues which remain unresolved from previous summits. As chair of the G8 summit when many of the commitments for African aid and development are due to be fulfilled, special attention will be focused on Canada. International anti-poverty campaigners will descend on Huntsville.

The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) was established at the 31st G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland in the United Kingdom in 2005. Since that time, the ICA’s annual meeting is traditionally hosted by the country holding the Presidency of the G8—in 2010 in Canada.”

The good news is that President Mills of Ghana is not attending this jamboree called summit. Again, to make their bitter prescriptions which have caused the underdevelopment of Africa look humane in the eyes of the world, they have cleverly invited some African leaders to the summit to legitimise their illegitimate decisions on Africa. They have also put Africa on the agenda to continue the unfulfilled and recycled pledges, promises and ultra cosmetic commitments to the continent, creating the impression that they care for the economic emancipation and eventual development of Africa.

It is however sad to see African leaders clapping and cheering at such summits when they in fact, know that these pledges will not be carried through, not in their life time. What is worst, these same African leaders will gleefully announce to the whole world that the G8 countries are God sent to save Africa.

It will make a whole world of good if we take a trip down memory lane of G8 deceptive pledges to Gleneagles in Scotland. In 2005 at Gleneagles the following, among other pledges, was agreed for the forward march of Africa. The meeting agreed that US$50 billion in aid to developing countries by 2010 and out of this colossal amount US$25 billion would be allocated to Africa in addition to the ministerial level agreement to debts forgiveness to selected HIPC countries.

The Gleneagles summit also made commitments to train 20,000 African peacekeepers and in return African governments would commit themselves to democracy and good governance. It also made commitments to ensure a universal availability of anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010.

In order to facilitate and ensure fair trade, the summit made commitment to reduce subsidies and tariffs. The European members of the G8 also made commitment to a foreign aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010 and 0.7% by 2015.

It is imperative to note that five years after the Gleneagles summit, which was again highly praised by none other than some African leaders at the time, most of these commitments are yet to be fulfilled. These pledges and commitments have been recycled year-in-year-out. Last year the G8 (‘Greedy 8’) summit in Italy re-pledged these previously announced commitments to Africa.

In view of the above, it would be interesting to hear from African leaders attending the G8 summit to tell us the benefit(s) (if any) the continent stands to gain at such ‘celebrity clubbing’. In deed the Saturday, 16th June 2007 edition of the Daily Graphic could not have captured it any better:

“The meeting agreed on June 11 2005 to write off the entire US$40 billion owed by 18 Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) to the World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank. The ministers stated that an additional US$15 billion owed by 21 countries would be written off if they met their HIPC targets.

For most of its life, the G8 did not attract much notice from ordinary Africans neither did the group concern itself specifically with Africa but in the last few years, certainly since Canada played host at Kananaskis in Alberta, the G8 has placed “African issues” such as poverty and HIV/AIDS at the centre of its consideration. This attention to Africa reached a crescendo in 2005 when the United Kingdom hosted the summit at Gleneagles in 2005. Ironically, it is the Gleneagles summit that has caused most disaffection for the G8 in African eyes”.

David Cameron
David Cameron

The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in some African countries is redefining the geopolitics of the continent. The neo-colonialism Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah wrote extensively about is now given African flesh remote controlled by the western powers with the help of their fixers in Africa.
It is therefore understandable why some African leaders who are genuinely committed to protecting the resources of their countries against foreign exploitation are overlooked when it comes to such summits. However, such leaders must be encouraged that majority of Africans are behind them. We do not hear leaders such as Navin Ramgoolam of Mauritius bootlicking world leaders yet his country is doing well economically.

The G8 summit scheduled to be held in Canada would not be different from previous summits. Announcement would be made of recycled pledges and African leaders attending the meeting would be the first to let the world know how successful the event has been and the benefit thereof to Africa. However, it is Multinational and big corporations that would benefit from decisions taken at the meeting at the expense of developing economies. Africa would forever remain grateful to leaders who would stay at home to see to the needs of their people.

Source: By Sandow Seidu Kpebu, London, KMC Communications