• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Give Africa the Voice It Needs

Satellite Photo of AfricaImage via WikipediaIn April, the G20 will meet in the United Kingdom to discuss the international economic crisis. The G20 is comprised of representatives of 19 of the world's 25 largest national economies plus the European Union. Only one member country is from the African continent - South Africa.

David Lane, of ONE, reminds us that only a handful of nations participated in creating the current financial system that has been in use since the end of World War II. As the world's most powerful financial leaders gather to discuss what could be far-reaching changes to this system, it is paramount that the voices of those who do not currently hold positions of economic power be heard.

One way to do that is for the chair of April's summit, UK Prime Minster Gordon Brown, to invite representatives of the African Union and the African Development Bank to participate. In 1999, the Organization for African Unity called for the establishment of an African union, with a view to "to accelerating the process of integration in the continent to enable it (to) play its rightful role in the global economy while addressing multifaceted social, economic and political problems compounded as they are by certain negative aspects of globalisation." The African Development Bank is "a regional multilateral development finance institution established in 1964 and engaged in mobilising resources towards the economic and social progress of its Regional Member Countries (RMCs). It is headquartered in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire)."

By allowing these two institutions to participate in the G20 summit, Prime Minister Brown will ensure that the interests of approximately one billion people will be heard. In our global world, we desperately need to hear all voices. Rich countries simply cannot pretend that the concerns of less developed nations do not matter. We cannot solve many of the problems of African nations that are caught in the grip of political turmoil and corruption, economic exploitation, or other causes of poverty. However, we can bring their voices to the table as we seek solutions to the current international financial crisis that threatens to derail so much of the economic progress that we have made over the last decades.

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