Africa sceptical of Britain's rescue plan

We have heard it all before" was the response from many Africans to
Britain's new rescue plan for the continent released on Friday,
revealing doubts over whether well-meaning words could translate into

Britain unveiled a dossier challenging the rich world to
end "appalling" market protectionism and give an extra $25 billion a
year, echoing calls for more trade and aid that Africans have been
writing up in action plans for years.

"This whole effort is a slap in the face of Africa," said Pete
Ondeng', head of a private body mobilising resources for a home-grown
African economic plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development,
launched in 2001.

"What is coming out of the report is not surprising because there is
nothing that you can tell me that hasn't been thought through before
in terms of the problems," he told Reuters in the Kenyan capital,

While Africans generally support the calls by the

London-sponsored Africa Commission for the rich world to rewrite
global trade rules to help millions of impoverished farmers sell
their produce abroad, the real test will be whether the European
Union and G8 group of rich nations adopt the plan.

"Its implementation will depend more on how much they are willing to
fulfill their promises," said Manenga Ndulo, an economics professor
at the University of Zambia. "Previously we have had so many plans
which have not been fulfilled."

Government officials in Kenya, a long-standing ally of

Britain, gave a cautious welcome to the document although even they
acknowledged the level of scepticism.

"Let us not be too pessimistic about what the commission is likely to
achieve," Planning Minister, Peter Anyang Nyongo said.

The PUNCH, Monday, March 14, 2005,