Ten actions Britain must take to support Africa's development.


ActionAid International

Johannesburg South Africa
Telephone. +27 (0) 880 0008 Fax. +27 (0) 11 880 8082
Email. mail.jhb@actionaid.org 
February 23, 2005
The African Commission for Britain.

... The African Commission for Britain, an all-African panel of
ActionAid International staff, has developed its own set of
recommendations. We believe that for Britain, the first step in
supporting African development must be to do no harm. The UK has
yet to take this step. Dumped exports from British farmers still
depress farm prices in Africa, putting poor farmers out of
business. UK carbon emissions contribute to climate change, causing
natural disasters across the region. UK companies continue to
violate basic rights and the environment, while arms exports from
British companies still fuel widespread conflict.

As Africans working with poor people across the continent, we know
that change in Africa is urgently needed. Governments must become
more accountable and less corrupt. Conflicts must end. Education,
health and other basic services must improve, and be made more
widely available.

While we know that real change in Africa must be led by Africans,
we also know that some of the greatest obstacles to change lie
outside the region. Africa has been the supposed beneficiary of no
fewer than 10 ambitious development plans in the past three
decades, many of them written outside the continent. But grand
plans and grand statements rarely work. Too many of the 'African
initiatives' have started from the assumption that the 'West knows
best.' Donors apply conditions to force African governments into
following 'sound' policies. Trade negotiations lock African
countries into a free trade model that rich countries didn't follow
themselves. ...

The UK government is right to stress that the rich world must take
action for Africa in 2005. It is right to show leadership in
ensuring that African issues are top of the political agenda. But
just as charity begins at home, so does justice. This report sets
out 10 things that we believe that the UK must do in order to
support, rather than undermine, Africa's development. All 10 are
achievable; all 10 could be delivered in 2005. ...

Taaka Awori
Country Director, ActionAid Ghana,
On behalf of the African Commission for Britain.

... we therefore call upon the UK to:

01. Stop forcing African countries to open up their markets.
02. Stop export dumping.
03. Reach the 0.7% aid target by 2010.
04. Stop tying economic policy conditions to aid.
05. Cancel unpayable debts.
06. Allow all people with HIV access to lifesaving treatments.
07. Stop UK corporations from undermining basic human rights.
08. Cut carbon emissions.
09. Work to resolve and prevent armed conflict.
10. Stop supporting bribery and corruption in Africa.


01. Stop forcing African countries to open their markets.

... African countries are under considerable pressure to allow
competition from foreign imports in their own markets. The UK is at
the forefront of pushing this trade liberalisation on Africa, and
remains one of the most ardent proponents of the 'free trade'
model. ...

The European Union is negotiating a new set of trade agreements,
so-called 'Economic Partnership Agreements' (EPAs), which will
force poor African farmers and emerging industries into unfair
competition with British and other European exporters. The UK
government is also using conditionality attached to aid, both
directly and via other donors such as the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund (IMF), to further push trade
liberalisation onto poor African countries.

The UK remains wedded to its free trade model despite the fact that
no country has ever developed by following such policies. In
Western Europe and North America, industrialisation was accompanied
by the protection of infant industries. Moreover, trade
liberalisation actively hurts poor and vulnerable groups, including
small farmers. For example, Ghana's tomato canning industry has
been decimated and producers are struggling against cheap imported
tomato paste from the EU following tariff cuts. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Work to radically change Economic Partnership Agreements and
provide pro-development alternatives.

* Stop forcing African countries into negotiations on service

* Accept that poor African countries have the right to protect
domestic industrial and agricultural sectors that are important for
poverty reduction and food security.

02. Stop export dumping.

... Export dumping - the sale of products at less than the cost of
production - is an integral part of UK and EU agriculture. Dumping
has three main negative effects - it depresses world prices,
displaces developing country exports in third country markets, and
undermines domestic production in developing countries, as local
producers are unable to compete with cheap imports.

The UK is a major agricultural exporter. At present, UK wheat
exports are being sold at 30% less than the cost of production,
while white sugar is being sold at 40% below production costs.
Across the EU as a whole, skimmed milk powder is also sold below
the cost of production. ... In each case, dumping is only made
possible by agricultural subsidies from the taxpayer, which
developing countries are prevented from providing to their own
producers. ...

Swaziland, for example, produces sugar at less than half the cost
of the EU, yet is unable to compete with EU confectionary products
(which contain subsidised EU sugar). Southern African outlets have
switched to cheaper, dumped EU confectionary leading to the loss of
some 16,000 jobs in the Swazi sugar industry directly and 20,000
related jobs, such as packaging and transport.

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Prohibit the dumping of all goods.

* Call publicly for the right of all countries to protect their
economies against dumped products, without having first to prove
injury to farmers, industry or other groups.

* Support measures to those developing countries dependent on cheap
food imports so that they are able to meet their food security

* Ensure that the EU agrees to an early end date for direct export

* Push the EU to bring forward further reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP), to ensure that domestic support is
re-oriented to deliver sustainable farming, environmental
protection, support to smallscale farmers, and the development of
local food economies.

03. Reach the 0.7% aid target by 2010.

... In 1970, the UK government pledged to give 0.7 per cent of its
national income in overseas aid. It has never reached that target.
In 2003, 33 years later, UK aid was at only 0.34% of national
income, ranking the UK only 11 out of 22 donor countries. Moreover,
UK aid figures include debt relief, often on loans that were taken
out for purposes unrelated to poverty reduction. ...

If the UK reached 0.7% during 2005, an additional £4 billion would
be made available to fund basic services in Africa. According to
the WHO, this sum would save two million lives a year in
sub-Saharan Africa if spent on basic healthcare. The UK has
proposed an alternative to direct increases in aid - the
International Financing Facility (IFF) - which will bring forward
future aid flows to fund development now. While we welcome aspects
of this proposal, it should not be used as an excuse to delay
increases in aid. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Make a firm commitment to reach the 0.7% target by 2010.

* Ensure that the aid budget does not include funding for debt
relief. Debt relief must be additional to aid spending.

04. Stop tying economic policy conditions to aid.

In return for aid, African countries are required to meet
conditions to deregulate and open up their economies. Aid
conditions have a dismal track record in terms of their impact on
poverty, and are also widely criticised for undermining national
'ownership' and democratic accountability. Yet they continue to be
justified by donors as a way of improving the policy environment
and thereby fostering 'aid effectiveness'. Most conditionality is
devised and applied by the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank, that together operate as the linchpin of the aid

The UK is the fourth largest shareholder in both the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and has a history of strong board
support for economic policy conditions in the Bank and Fund's
programmes. A growing share of UK aid is aligned with World Bank
structural adjustment programmes. ...

For example in Ghana, when the World Bank recently withheld $100
million of aid because of failure to privatise municipal water, the
UK followed suit and froze £7 million, leaving two million urban
Ghanaians waiting for safe drinking water. In Uganda, privatisation
of the energy and water sectors has been a key benchmark for
releasing further World Bank and DFID funds. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* End economic policy conditions in DFID programmes, and confine
conditionality to what's necessary to ensure aid is spent
accountably, on poverty reduction.

* De-link UK aid from IMF 'trigger conditions' and macroeconomic
performance indicators.

* Put pressure on the IMF and World Bank to reduce and reform their
own use of conditions.

* Introduce full disclosure of all remaining conditions.

05. Cancel un-payable debts.

... Despite recent debt relief initiatives, sub-Saharan Africa
still owes almost $220 billion to its western creditors, more than
50% of its combined income. Much of this debt is 'un-payable' it
cannot be repaid without undermining the ability of African
governments to perform their most basic functions. ...

The UK government has already cancelled, or promised to cancel, the
bilateral debt owed to it by African HIPCs. It has agreed to pay
its 10% share of the debt service paid by selected lowincome
countries to the World Bank and African Development Bank, based on
the UK's shareholdings of those institutions. It is also pushing
for the sale or revaluation of IMF gold to fund relief on IMF

Welcome as the UK's proposal is, it does not go far enough.
Firstly, in Africa the offer has only been extended to HIPCs. This
excludes similarly indebted countries that are not on the HIPC
list. The UK has only promised to cancel debt service as it falls
due, rather than writing off debt stocks outright. ... Secondly,
the UK proposal uses money from existing aid budgets, rather than
providing genuinely new money to fund debt relief. ...

Most importantly, the UK proposal continues to require poor
countries to implement risky and unproven economic policy
conditions, such as privatisation, trade liberalisation and fiscal
austerity in order to access debt relief. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Cancel its share of all un-payable debts from African countries.

* Fund debt relief using new money, rather than that taken from
existing aid budgets.

* Stop requiring poor countries to implement economic policies,
such as privatisation and liberalisation, as a condition for
granting debt relief.

06. Ensure access to free and comprehensive treatment for all
people living with HIV and AIDS.

... In sub-Saharan Africa 6,300 people die every day as a result of
HIV and AIDS. This is a human rights scandal that has long-term
negative economic impact. British government policies on access to
treatment are fine on paper but, in reality, the UK is not doing
enough to reduce the level of illness and death.

The UK Government has announced that it will contribute £500m a
year to for the fight against HIV and AIDS from 2005-2008, making
it one of the highest ranking donor countries. It is, at last,
increasing its annual contribution to the Global Fund to Fight
AIDS, TB and Malaria. However, the UK will contribute less this
year to the Fund than either France, Germany or Italy. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Commit additional funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB
and Malaria and take leadership to ensure stable resources so that
the Fund is better able to support developing country AIDS

* Provide urgent financial support to secure the achievement of '3
by 5' and urge the G8 to set a timetable for universal access to

* Actively oppose EU and US 'TRIPs plus' agreements, which place
greater restrictions on developing countries' use of intellectual
property regulations than the WTO. The UK should use their
presidency of the EU to speed up this process, pushing for approval
of the regulation and its quick implementation at national level
for member states.

* Invest in human resources in the health sector to include
sufficient salaries and working conditions for healthcare workers
to reduce their migration to work in the UK.

07. Stop UK corporations from undermining basic rights.

... Tony Blair has called for a huge increase in private sector
investment in Africa. Properly regulated, private enterprise can
help to reduce poverty, realise people's rights, increase
employment opportunities and generate economic growth. Yet the
actual track record of overseas companies in Africa tells a very
different story.

Britain accounts for 40% of Africa's inward investment in
extractive sectors such as minerals, timber, precious metals, oil
and gas. ... Where complaints have been brought against British
companies under the OECD Guidelines, such as in the case of
companies fuelling conflict in the Congo, the UK government has
thus far failed to investigate, let alone sanction, the companies

At the same time, multinational agribusiness firms are undermining
the fight against poverty by using their considerable power within
domestic markets to force down the prices of agricultural
commodities, upon which millions of Africans depend for their

For example, in Côte D'Ivoire, three companies control 95% of cocoa
processing, while just one company manages virtually all of Ghana's
palm oil processing industry. Such high levels of market
concentration enable companies to dictate the terms of trade with
smallholder producers and contract growers. Meanwhile, prices paid
to farmers for cocoa have fallen by 6.9% a year, and palm oil
prices by 3.4% a year over the past two decades. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Make company directors legally accountable for the social and
environmental impacts of their businesses' activities overseas.

* Support the UN Human Rights Norms for Business.

* Take action to prevent the abuse of market power by UK agrifood
companies in Africa.

08. Cut carbon emissions.

... Climate change poses massive development challenges to Africa,
which stands to be one of the worst affected regions from changes
in rainfall and temperature. Industrialised countries such as
Britain, which accounts for less than 1% of the world's population
but 3% of global emissions, are chiefly responsible for the
problem. The average Briton accounts for 47,000 Kwh of energy a
year, 168 times what the average Ethiopian consumes. Despite the UK
promise of a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2010 (on 1990 levels),
between 2002 and 2003 the UK's emissions of carbon dioxide from
energy rose by approximately 3%. UK companies create carbon
emissions not only in Britain, but also within Africa, for example
through oil flaring. ...

So far, climate change has not been properly integrated into
development policy and planning, and the response from rich
countries has been grossly inadequate. Rich countries spend £50
billion a year subsidising fossil fuel industries only, but around
£300,000 a year helping poor countries manage their emissions and
adapt to climate change.

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Urgently scale up its support to the Global Environment Facility
and to other programmes designed to help Africa mitigate the impact
of climate change.

* Cut its own carbon emissions and intensify efforts to get other
major industrialised nations to follow suit.

* Actively support African efforts to manufacture energy generation
systems that do not depend upon oil, including micro- and
meso-hydro, solar power and wind generation.

09. Work to prevent and resolve armed conflict.

... Africa remains one of the most conflict-affected regions of the
world, and since the end of the Cold War is estimated to have
accounted for 90 per cent of all conflict-related deaths. In 2003,
15 African countries were affected by armed conflict in five
cases these were major conflicts claiming more than 100,000
casualties. In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, the
estimated death toll runs to almost four million people. ...

The UK plays a direct role in many of Africa's conflicts, both
through its colonial legacy and through its more recent commercial
and political activities in the region. In particular, the UK is
the world's second biggest arms exporter, with $4 billion of annual
sales, or 20% of the global market, while UK arms sales to Africa
totalled £200 million in 2003. In ten of the current conflicts in
Africa, the countries concerned have made recent military purchases
from the UK. ...

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Support an International Arms Trade Treaty.

* Support the African Union's peacekeeping and peace building
capacity. ...

10. Stop supporting bribery and corruption in Africa.

... The UK government requires African countries to take measures
against corruption in order to qualify for financial aid. Yet UK
government agencies use taxpayers' money to support British
companies that continue to bribe their way into winning contracts
from African governments. Of the 37 allegations of overseas
corruption currently registered against UK companies, 14 have come
from Africa by far the largest number for any region. ...

Corruption in Africa has been facilitated by policies and money
laundering in rich countries that enable capital flight. A recent
study estimated that total capital flight from Africa stood at $285
billion in the mid-1990s, and Britain, together with its overseas
territories and dependencies, has been cited as a 'magnet' for
stolen wealth. For example, around $1.3 billion of the money looted
from Nigeria by the Abacha family found its way into London banks.
Only $30 million of the Abachas' money has ever been frozen in UK
bank accounts, and the UK government has consistently failed to
respond to requests for help from the Nigerian government for
financial documents and for the return of the money....

The African Commission for Britain therefore calls upon the UK to:

* Establish a special unit to investigate and prosecute cases of
bribery and other serious economic crimes overseas.


* Debar companies convicted of corruption from obtaining export
credit support for three years.

* Introduce mandatory requirements on due diligence for banks
handling money from government officials abroad.

[excerpts only. For full text visit http://www.actionaid.org/media]