§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Lord Lea of Crondall
rose to call attention to progress towards the development of "mutual accountability" with African countries under the aegis of NePAD (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) prior to the G8 summit at Evian; and to move for Papers.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am very glad to have been fortunate enough to secure this debate in the lead-up to Evian early in June providing the opportunity for my noble friend Lady Amos to respond in her new role as Secretary of State for International Development. It was clear in her previous incarnation that the issues surrounding the New Partnership for Africa's Development were and are very close to her heart.
In that context I also welcome, among an impressive list of speakers, her distinguished predecessor in that role in this House, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, who has a long and continuing experience with the affairs of Africa.
Our immediate aim is to help to maintain the G8/ NePAD momentum set in motion in Canada a year ago. President Chirac, who is in the chair of the G8 this year, is giving this a high priority at Evian—if it is not a treasonable offence to mention that. We need continuity in the work of the G8 even when major new issues in the Middle East and the world economy dominate the headlines. The African time-bomb is still ticking away, and we have to attend to it.
What are the key issues and developments at this time in NePAD, and what are the key challenges for the G8 in Evian in that connection? They are twofold, 837 with a close connection between peer review and mutual accountability. I shall say a few words about each.
Peer review is voluntary, but there are tangible advantages for countries entering into the process. We are beginning with about a dozen. There are 46 counties in total in Africa to bring within scope, some more on a regional framework. In the language of the Government, there will be,enhanced partnerships with African countries whose performance reflects the NePAD commitments".I shall relate that to some of the main headings of NePAD.
First and foremost, peace and security, covering good governance, is correctly placed at the top of the list. No one can doubt that political stability is of the utmost importance for social and economic progress. I can add to that the effectiveness of aid; fostering trade and investment; implementing debt relief; health issues; and water security. There is a long list to be addressed. Those issues immediately raise all aspects of what is now called mutual accountability, between African countries, within African countries and north-south—by which I mean between the G8 OECD countries and the countries of the African Union.
On the question of peer review, as in the European Union the African Union leadership of such initiatives has to be top-down to begin with, but it certainly will not go far unless there is in-depth understanding and ownership. That is a tall order. It is not often appreciated how much we in Britain have benefited from being peer reviewed in Europe, but many people in this House view that process with only modified rapture. I have personally been on the receiving end of that on such issues in the labour market as adaptability, employability and equal opportunity. My advice is that it does you good.
I find when talking to African colleagues at different levels in the trade unions that they are surprised to hear what I have just said; they find it an eye-opener. One of them said to me, after hearing my line on it: "Well, if you are benchmarked and you are rich, maybe it's alright for us as well". This is not an abstract matter it is entirely practical.
The G8 countries will be reporting at Evian on progress against the commitments agreed in Canada a year ago. If the UK national action plan is any guide, that will further demonstrate the value added in the NePAD process. It is also very timely to welcome our Government's ideas for the international financial facility and the 50 billion dollars that it would produce for international aid.
The tent "mutual accountability"—I emphasise the word "mutual"—is relatively new. It may be useful to identify the two complementary aspects of the concept: the accountability north-south and the accountability within Africa. The northern contribution, from OECD countries, is not only to help with cash and technical assistance but also to be accountable in terms of removing trade distortions; 838 taking really tough action against the unaccountable arms trade; having a policy on drugs; making business accountable; and so on.
The June deadline for the headings of agreement on reform of the common agricultural policy—perhaps I should say that the same should go for the American agricultural policy should see tangible progress on one of the central issues on the north-south agenda. One of the central reforms should be put in place so that, inter alia, we switch about 80 per cent of the CAP spending into areas that the WTO accepts are not trade distorting. That is only a start. Here again, however, one cannot gainsay the fact that for the countries with falls in GDP in the past 10 years of which there are many, although I do not have time to read out the statistics—the big factors unfortunately have nothing to do with trade policy.
We want to see more on the table from the north on trade policy. President Chirac acknowledged the need for change at his meeting with Africa presidents in March, beginning with the abolition of EU export subsidies for agricultural products affecting African markets. It is essential that that is taken forward further at Cancun in the autumn.
NePAD has its critics, in Africa and elsewhere. I was struck by the robust response by the executive secretary of the Economic Commission on Africa last October. Mr Amoako referred to what he described as the main myths about NePAD. First, it is said that it is an intrusion on national sovereignty; we all know about that one, of course. Secondly, it is said that it will be an elite club with insiders and outsiders. Some of our own aid organisations, such as Christian Aid, quoted in the House of Commons research paper on NePAD, share the critique of elitism against grass roots involvement.
On the other hand, there is the opposite critique, heard much more frequently in this House, that NePAD is ineffectual. There are, in fact, two opposing myths. That is well illustrated by Zimbabwe, which will obviously feature in some of your Lordships' speeches. There is a myth put about in that part of the world that NePAD is all to do with South African imperialism. The South Africans have given courageous leadership in getting NePAD off the ground, and I would advocate that they are much bolder. But what about the fact that the Mugabes of this world get a standing ovation—as he does—at the meetings of African heads of government? One way of understanding how that can happen is to reflect on how politics in our own sophisticated country operates. One might take the example of why we, in the TUC, gave a standing ovation each year to Arthur Scargill years after the TUC was even remotely in agreement with his irredentist policy. It is a genuflection to the old time religion.
The South Africans are better placed than ourselves to knock right on the head the idea that NePAD is part of a conspiracy designed by forces of white imperialism vis-à-vis countries to their immediate north. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, is no one's poodle, as his 839 distinguished record as a trade union official demonstrates. He stands in a great tradition of African trade union leaders, from Tom Mboya to Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zimbabwe also illustrates the fact that NePAD cannot at this stage jump miles beyond peer group pressure—as if the next move would be to go right to the other end of the spectrum of direct intervention. It is absurd to say that NePAD has failed on such a test as that.
It is necessary to issue a general disclaimer or health warning that NePAD cannot do everything. Nor can it be a quick fix. Some things may need to be done that could by no stretch of the imagination be its responsibility or even potential responsibility. For example, it cannot change the United Nations rules of engagement in the Congo, highly desirable as that might be. Nor is it responsible for the arms trade; we are more responsible for it than NePAD. It cannot change tribal loyalties, straight lines on the map or more than 1,000 years of history as regards Christianity versus Islam, desirable as all that might be if we could turn back the clock.
In that connection we should remember that the countries of the Maghreb are prominently involved in this African project even though they may feel different and much nearer to Europe than to sub-Saharan Africa. However, having said that NePAD must not bite off more than it can chew, I believe that it can make the difference between a road to ruin and a road map to minimum standards of governance. Political stability has been the centrepiece in transforming many basket-case economies. It is certainly the key to private investment. I am sure that colleagues will have more to say about the role of the private sector. I hope that the Secretary of State will say more about the multi-donor-funded public/private infrastructure facility and the framework for dialogue about that.
In our most recent debate on this general topic I engaged in an interchange with the noble Lord, Lord Desai, on the comparative growth rate between Asia and Africa. We discussed the role of the middle class in generating a quite high rate of return for the new professional services and so on and creating a more powerful political constituency for good governance and the rule of law.
The role of the trade unions—one of the main forces for pluralism in many party of Africa ever since colonial days—should also be acknowledged. When it comes to local "ownership"—to use the modern vernacular—they are streets ahead of the otherwise admirable development NGOs. Trade unions play a much wider role than simply at the place of work. For example—to give a flavour—in Sierra Leone the Commonwealth TUC is working with the Labour Congress to help all civil society organisations contribute to peacekeeping. In Ghana and Nigeria, the TUC and the national Labour Congress have run voter education programmes. The list is a long one.
840 Ownership of NePAD in depth is now an urgent question. That ultimately bears on the role of parliaments and parliamentarians. We should note the creation, at a meeting in Cotonou in October 2002, of the African Parliamentarians Forum for NePAD. In its communiqué it reports that some EU countries have had a direct financial input into the forum—namely, Denmark, Italy and France—whereas the UK is not mentioned except indirectly insofar as there is also EU assistance. Perhaps my noble friend can say more about that.
As regards the role of Westminster, both the IPU and the CPA do an excellent job on inward and outward missions and in seminars on the type of issue we are discussing today. The All-Party Group on Africa will be discussing with those bodies, and perhaps with the Foreign Office and DfID, how we can put together a more systematic exposition of the link with the NePAD parliamentary forum.
For many historical, contemporary and practical reasons, among G8 countries Britain and France have by far the most significant interests in Africa. France is, for example, the biggest aid donor to Africa. We are therefore proposing a meeting between British and French parliamentarians, perhaps to be addressed jointly by a NePAD governmental and parliamentary representative as the start of a continuing relationship. There have been preliminary discussions with French parliamentarians who have warmly welcomed the proposal in principle. Now we have to work out the logistics, with the enthusiastic support of the French ambassador in London, M. Gerard Errera.
I look forward to the debate and to the response from my noble friend the Secretary of State. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Baroness Chalker of Wallasey
My Lords, I should first declare an interest as chairman of Africa Matters Ltd, where we try to open doors to African investment and development. Secondly, I most warmly welcome the new Secretary of State for International Development, our own Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Amos. She has a huge task ahead of her. She has my full support. Although we might have grown up in different stables, we have exactly the same objectives. I hope that this will be the first of many informative debates about Africa. Such debates might expand the positive attitude that already exists among many of those doing the practical work on the ground. Thirdly, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, and congratulate him on gaining this debate.
In a recent conference involving thinkers from both the G8 and African nations, we came to the conclusion—which the noble Lord, Lord Lea, has already mentioned—that NePAD cannot be a cure-all for the many problems facing Africa. It is by far the most complicated of continents. There are more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, all with their own cultural diversity and customs. I often become a little infuriated, shall we say, when I hear people talking of Africa as if it were one country with a single cultural 841 heritage. It is not. It is as diverse as anywhere else in the world. I think that we need to remember that when trying to combine the energies of Africans to make a better future.
The African Union seems to realise that and to be aware that NePAD cannot be a one-speed forward process. NePAD must work at a variety of speeds in a variety of different sectors. I should like to concentrate on that in the few moments available to me.
The first thing that I should say about mutual accountability is this. Part of the solution to many of the issues on which the western world and northern hemisphere criticise NePAD, where the G8 nations and others in OECD are looking for solutions, is already in their own hands. I begin with the issue of corruption. Bribery is successful only when someone bribes. By going into the detail—as Transparency International has done—of how much corruption around the world occurs, one finds that an awful lot of companies from European and other OECD countries—and maybe even some governments, for all I know—are involved. It is they who, for a variety of projects, put up the money, which is easily taken by people of lesser probity. So part of the solution—mutual accountability—is, as the noble Lord, Lord Lea, said, in our own hands. Corruption is but one issue.
The second issue is the whole question of funding for small private sector developments through banking and other funds which may be made available by the I FC or other multilateral bodies. We will cure some of Africa's problems only if new jobs are created. As we know in this country, new jobs come not from big government contracts—I think that even the current Government would accept that—but from loads of small enterprises. Small enterprises succeed only if they can get funding. Of all the problems that can arise in developing enterprises which can bring growth, the lack of resources for small business is one of the most critical. I hope that with the new African Project Development Fund organisation and the emphasis now being placed on it by multilateral and bilateral donors, we can really do something to enhance the growth of small businesses. That will bring the jobs, and that will actually start to cure some of the problems.
The noble Lord, Lord Lea, spoke of the key problem of gaining peace and security as well as democracy and political governance. You get peace and security only when people feel themselves secure, and that requires employment. That underlines, perhaps in an unusual way, why I am so keen to see such business development.
There is a great deal to be done in terms of economic and corporate governance, not only by sharing best skills on financial management with the countries of Africa but also by making sure that businesses operating in Africa have first-class corporate governance and can share systems of corporate governance with African countries and companies in the continent.
842 The third broad precondition for the sustainable development of NePAD is clearly regional cooperation and integration. I believe that if we are to see NePAD succeed, we have to put many things in our own houses in order. I hope that a renaissance decade lies ahead. I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to push that for all she is worth. Certainly the African Union wants to meet commitments in terms of creating local conditions of peace, security, democracy and political governance. The African Union is prepared to take on the ownership of NePAD, but NePAD's own development goals can be met only if it is a real partnership. That real partnership involves not just money but the active involvement of people sharing their skills with people in African countries. That is the way to get growth and stability in this huge continent, and that is the way for the G8 to help NePAD forward.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Lord Avebury
My Lords, I join the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Lea, on initiating this useful and timely debate in advance of the G8 summit. We are glad to know that the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, will be there maintaining the high priority given to African affairs notwithstanding the other important issues that will be on the agenda. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lea, that the momentum has to be kept up. It is more important than ever that the resources available for this project are effectively deployed and underpinned, as has been said, by good governance, the rule of law, human rights and democracy. That was the essence of the G8 Africa Action Plan, agreed at Kananaskis a year ago. At Evian the participants will no doubt assess the progress made towards meeting the objectives of the plan, which include strengthening institutions and governance.
In July 2002 the African Union agreed to the African peer review mechanism—which has been mentioned—directed and managed by a panel appointed by heads of state and government, and supported by a secretariat which would maintain information about participating states. Each state would submit a programme of action for implementing the declaration on democracy, political, economic and corporate governance, and that would be subject to periodic review by the panel.
Unfortunately, there are some defects in the proposals. First, states which have no intention of complying with international standards will simply not participate. It is a pity that the mechanism was not built into membership of the African Union. Secondly, the panel is not independent. Why not allow candidates to be nominated by the leader of any political party or NGO in the participating countries, with the final selection being made by an independent body such as chief justices instead of heads of state? The panel would then have the power to appoint the head of the secretariat, making that also fully independent.
843 Thirdly, there is a commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but not to the covenants, or to other UN instruments such as the Convention Against Torture. That is a defect. Fourthly, civil society should have been given a more prominent role. As I say, appointments to the panel are controlled entirely by governments, and so also presumably would be appointments to the secretariat and to the peer review teams. The review of a state will rely onmaterial provided by national, sub-regional, regional and international institutions".When the review team visits the country in stage two, it has to consult with representatives of civil society, but surely the secretariat ought to receive and study complaints beforehand, discarding only those which it considers to be frivolous or ill-founded.
Finally, only heads of government have the right to call for a review outside the normal cycle where they consider that there are signs of an impending political or economic crisis. If the panel is independent, why should it not have the power to conduct a review of its own volition, on the basis of objective trigger facts such as an adverse report on the conduct of an election, together with a request for a review by the main opposition in the country concerned? By what right do we make suggestions of this kind about the African peer review mechanism? Since the object of the exercise is in part to create a new environment that will encourage aid and investment from G8 countries, we can, by making these suggestions, render it more attractive than it is now.
That brings me to the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and the associated monitoring mechanism. These are practical tools for ensuring that commercial activities in Africa are guided by the highest standards of corporate social responsibility. NePAD's peace and security commission has proposed that African governments establish minimum standards by which non-state actors may access natural resources, and the guidelines provide a workable model that could be adapted or even adopted by the African Union for this purpose.
The G8 Africa Action Plan has pledged to work with African governments, civil society and others to address the linkage between armed conflict and the exploitation of natural resources by encouraging the adoption of voluntary principles of corporate social responsibility. It also calls for accountability and transparency with respect to the import or export of Africa's natural resources from areas of conflict. So there should be a more specific linkage between the guidelines and NePAD, and this would again dovetail with the Prime Minister's Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which I hope will be discussed at Evian ahead of the meeting on June 17th, where I understand that key players will be asked to sign up to a statement of principles. It would be useful if the noble Baroness when replying to the debate could say something further about the EITI—an initiative which I am sure your Lordships warmly welcome.
844 Not much progress has yet been made towards mutual accountability under NePAD, but now is surely the time to accelerate the process. President Chirac says that one theme at Evian will be the responsibility of both governments and business. The G8 need to spell out clearly both what they expect from the peer review mechanism and what states can expect from the G8 if they satisfy well-understood benchmarks of good governance. Equally, they must speak plainly on what business and governments must do together to ensure that the African people, and not the kleptocrats, get the full benefit of developments that NePAD can ensure.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Lord Rogan
My Lords, I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, on initiating the debate. I offer my good wishes and congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, on her new position.
This debate hinges on an extremely important topic, particularly coming at a time when the plight of Africa has slipped somewhat from the limelight. When campaigning in Edinburgh back in May 2001, the Prime Minister said:If elected for a second term I will make Africa a major personal priority and a priority for a Labour Government".It would appear, however, that international events—September 11th and the subsequent war on terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq, and the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict—have somewhat distracted the Government and the world's media and drawn attention away from Africa.
Not for a second am I suggesting that Britain's eye should not have turned to those events. I merely wish to point out that Africa remains very much, in the Prime Minister's own words, a,scar on the conscience of the world".Indeed it may even be suggested that the recent security alerts and events in Kenya and the suicide bombings in Morocco show that the continent is in fact tied up in those international events. Africa must remain a priority for us all. No one can deny that the continent is in dire need of long-term sustainable commitment.
It is therefore vital that the achievements of Kananaskis in Canada last year, when G8 support was secured for the New Partnership for Africa's Development, are carried through to this year's G8 summit in Evian. If not, we are in danger of allowing Africa to become little more than a fashion accessory, a stylish issue that grabs the headlines on select occasions to appease targeted audiences.
It is worth reminding ourselves of the reasons why we need to think more carefully and frequently about Africa. Some 65 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa live on one dollar a day, 40 per cent do not attend primary schools, and 28 million are living with HIV/Aids. Southern Africa is plagued by famine and food shortages. Many of Africa's nations are suffering under the effects of continued conflict and corrupt leadership, and countries persistently face low growth rates.
845 Yet, even among the gloomiest of pictures and statistics, there is a glimmer of hope. Uganda and Mozambique, for example, have annual growth rates of 7 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Recent years have seen the smooth handover of power to democratically elected governments in countries such as Ghana and Kenya. Life expectancy in Gambia has risen from 45 years to 53 years, and the percentage of the population receiving education has doubled in countries such as Burkina Faso, Liberia and Mali.
Although many of those improvements should be attributed to foreign aid from developed countries and to the excellent work and major commitments of NGOs, credit must also be given to the African countries themselves. Aid can and does provide the infrastructure, the means by which improvements can be made. It can indeed be the impetus to change. But fundamental long-term change can come only from within the countries themselves. Without the support of the African leaders, and the African people, aid will be little more than a stop-gap measure, a sticking plaster or band-aid over a very deep wound.
In setting standards for good governance, respecting human rights and working for peace and poverty reduction, NePAD, as the brainchild of several African leaders, is Africa's recognition that it is responsible for its own development. NePAD does not represent ideas and regulations imposed on African nations by western countries. It is not an attempt to mould them to our liking, although of course we share the aims and sentiment. Rather, it is an inside-out approach to development. As a child learns from its mistakes. so must Africa recognise its own problems, recognise that it can and must do something about them, and set about not only resolving them but moving forward and beyond them. NePAD is a real opportunity for Africa. I urge the Government to consider more carefully our commitment to and support for it.
NePAD is undoubtedly ambitious. Perhaps it can best be described as offering a new attitude to African leadership, a new way of thinking that needs time to seep into the African psyche. I wish to place on record my admiration for and congratulations to those African leaders— in particular, President Mbeki of South Africa and President Wade of Senegal—on their drive and determination in taking on the arduous challenge of lifting Africa from global depression. It is all too easy for us to be cynical about NePAD, to dwell on the teething problems and criticise the tardiness with which the principles are implemented. But I believe that we should offer those African leaders our steadfast support and not our criticism.
That said, the notion of mutual accountability or the peer review process has had a less than wholehearted response. It is not unlike the concept of peer mentoring, of which we hear much in the UK. At first glance it represents an excellent idea. African leaders can help each other to reach the goals of democracy and good governance. They can keep a close eye on each other, and allow their neighbours to criticise them in order that improvements may be made. However, with only 13 states signed up so far, it 846 seems unlikely that the peer review process will get off the ground, let alone have a major impact. Mutual accountability is voluntary and, unlike developed countries, which can at least offer sticks and carrots in return for internal improvements to governmental structures, the African states can do little more than make polite recommendations.
We need only look at other African states' response to the behaviour of President Mugabe to understand just how reluctant Zimbabwe's neighbouring states are to condemn one another. If self-scrutiny is going to work in Africa, it needs a lot more teeth. The peer review mechanism requires a great deal more authority, complete with punishments and incentives.
If NePAD is truly to be an African initiative, implemented by African nations, it cannot solely remain in the domain of Africa's leaders. In asserting the importance of democracy across the continent, the heads of state must show and recognise that everyone, not just the government, should be involved.
§ Baroness Crawley
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting, but I remind noble Lords that the agreement is seven minutes.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ Lord Judd
My Lords, like others, I thank my noble friend Lord Lea for having introduced the debate. When someone with his very significant experience of life brings his attention to bear on such an issue it is particularly important.
I also say how glad I am that my noble friend Lady Amos will reply to the debate. She has already more than proved herself, and she will know that not only in this House but more widely, among all those concerned with development issues throughout the country, there is nothing but good will and the hope of a long and successful innings for her.
I should declare an interest. I am a member of the Oxfam Association and a trustee of Saferworld. I believe that one of the important aspects of policy in this country should be a close working relationship between government and the NGOs, with all the experience and insight of practical engagement that the NGOs bring to bear. That practical engagement and what it has to offer is well evidenced in the excellent briefing for the debate from the Save the Children Fund, ActionAid, Oxfam and others.
It was also good to hear from the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker. Perhaps I have reason to know more than some other Members of the House that, although on the wrong side of the House, she was an extremely effective and committed Minister. Her experience then and what she has done since have a great deal to offer us all.
As we approach the debate on NePAD in the context of the forthcoming G8 summit, there are important issues to be examined. Of course we 847 welcome the partnership principle in NePAD, but how equal is that partnership in reality? Is there really the space for Africans to take the strategic responsibility?
Positive aspects of NePAD include the commitment to greater trade access; less international financial institution conditionality; meeting the development aid targets—I say in parenthesis that nothing generates more cynicism in the world than to enter into all kinds of rhetorical commitments which are not then fulfilled—regional cohesion; commitments to democracy; wider participation; and human rights. All these are good things. But we have to be realistic. Anxieties remain.
There is an insufficiently clear statement of intention on the whole issue of HIV/AIDS. There is not sufficient cast-iron commitment on the revitalising of the health sector and on access to essential medicines; and there is an absence of firm commitment on gender issues.
But, more generally, questions that worry a large number of us relate to how different in effect NePAD will be from the previous commitment to structural adjustment. It has to be recognised that structural adjustment did a great deal of harm. It was export driven—often at the expense of local producers, self-sufficiency, survival mechanisms and food security.
There are also anxieties about the context of a commitment to neo-liberal economics. A great deal of research needs to go into how far neo-liberal economics is benefiting the poor as distinct from the rich in the third world. I suggest that even World Bank statistics, as they are presented at the moment, are not very helpful in providing detail in that context.
There is also the issue of how far NePAD has taken seriously the engagement with civil society. We are not going to make a success of development unless civil society is engaged.
I hope my noble friend will forgive me if I conclude by putting a number of specific questions to her in this context. What will be done at the G8 summit to ensure that we fulfil our commitments on debt and on aid? What of the undertaking to provide an additional 12 billion US dollars for overseas development assistance from 2006; and what of the G8 pledge to ensure that half of that is for sub-Saharan Africa? What of the sectoral development goals—not least on health and education? Can we be certain of long-overdue renewed and generous backing for the Global Health Fund, and especially for the combating of AIDS in the expenditure from that fund in Africa?
What of the G8 promise to eliminate polio by 2005? As I understand it, this now requires only an additional 275 million US dollars. Compare that to recent expenditure on bombs in the Iraq war. Why can we not, at G8, make sure that it is done?
On trade, can my noble friend assure us that there is to be a real commitment to the end of dumping? The common agricultural policy is highly relevant in this context. But recent research by Oxfam and others has suggested that, in 2001–02 alone, United States' 848 subsidies for cotton exports resulted in 30 million US dollars export earning losses by sub-Saharan cotton producing countries.
What of the "development box" within the World Trade Organisation agreement on agriculture? What of President Chirac's proposed moratorium on subsidies for all export goods to African countries during the current trade negotiations? What about commodity prices? Falls in world commodity prices can undo years of attempts at development. What will be the position on the coffee rescue plan put forward by the International Coffee Organisation?
On multinational companies, as the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, said, what of their regulation and accountability? The noble Baroness was right to emphasise the importance of corruption in this context.
I simply make the point, as we approach the G8 summit, that central to it will be the role of the occupying powers in Iraq. I am frankly tired of repeatedly seeing conflict situations in which no questions are asked about the cost of bombs and armaments to win a military victory. But this is the positive fight for humanity. If we do not win it, there will not be security and stability. We shall have failed in the application of our own values. At G8 we need the hard evidence that we take the fight for humanity every bit as seriously as we take military conflict.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ Lord Blaker
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I join him in expressing support for NePAD although I am not sure that I can do it so eloquently. I want also to thank the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, for initiating this timely debate.
It was in October 2001 that the Prime Minister made a moving speech in my former constituency of Blackpool—evidently inspired by NePAD—and spoke of his vision of a partnership for Africa between the developed and developing world, involving aid and investment from the former and good governance in the latter.
But on 31st March this year, only 18 months later, the noble Baroness, Lady Amos—whom I congratulate on her new appointment—said in Pretoria:One unfortunate consequence of the Zimbabwe situation is that …Foreign investors fear that Nepad won't work—they think Nepad is a lost cause".NePAD is wider than Zimbabwe, but I want to talk about Zimbabwe because I believe that the disaster that is occurring there is central to the future success or otherwise of the NePAD venture.
To me, the exciting thing about NePAD when I first came across it was its emphasis on good governance, the rule of law and human rights—and, in addition, peer pressure to secure those aims. They are also written into the African Union treaty, and into the SADC treaty.
849 The second most important aspect of NePAD is the emphasis that the treaty places on the fact that bad governance undermines even the best of economic policies.
President Mbeki has frequently said that the problems of Africa should be dealt by African countries. He is certainly regarded as the most important leader in southern Africa and can give a lead. But, sadly, I do not think that so far he has displayed his ability to give a lead that will be successful. He suggested, with President Obasanjo, that the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth should be terminated. I am glad to say that that was not accepted. He recently visited Zimbabwe with President Obasanjo to talk to President Mugabe, and the latter seems to have reacted with disdain to the approach of the two foreign presidents. He appears to have rejected a proposal that he should have talks with the MDC, to see whether agreement with the opposition could be reached, unless the MDC recognise him as the properly elected President of Zimbabwe.
So the situation in Zimbabwe is one of terror, chaos and near anarchy and it is getting worse. I do not want to add to all the facts that noble Lords already have in their possession, save to say that the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, has said that it takes seven years—originally I believe she said seven; now I think that she says 10 years—to make up the leeway lost in every year of negative growth. So we face many years of making up for what has already happened.
My main point is that the situation in Zimbabwe is now affecting not only the people there but also those in the neighbouring countries in southern Africa. This point was made not long ago by Pascal Lamy, the European Union Commissioner, and by the Canadian Trade Minister. It is made, too, in a report in today's Financial Times on the studies of the Zimbabwe Research Initiative, a non-profit-making think tank, which says that the cost to the region's economic situation has been 1.5 billion since the year 2000. That means a loss not only to South Africa but particularly to the 14 smaller member countries of the SADC. South Africa's own GDP is said to have suffered a loss of 1.3 per cent. I believe that that is an understatement because it appears to leave out the influence of foreign direct investment. A Reuters report of 13th February said that foreign direct investment for the 14 smaller countries in SA DC for 2001 was 6.6 billion dollars but for 2002 the figure had fallen to 1.09 billion dollars. That is an absolutely astonishing fall, which was no doubt caused by the situation in the neighbouring country of Zimbabwe.
I respect President Mbeke's view that the problems of Africa should be dealt with by the African countries. However, in my view that does not prevent the developed countries from urging African countries to do what they have undertaken to do in those treaties to which I have referred. The southern African countries could he encouraged to do more together to resolve the Zimbabwe problem.
850 That brings me to the forthcoming G8 conference on 1st June. Africa is prominently on the agenda. The G8 countries are vital for investment in southern Africa and the provision of economic aid to southern Africa. They therefore have very great influence. A great opportunity was lost last year at Kananaskis when the Zimbabwe question was not discussed at all, except in a passing reference by, strangely enough, Chancellor Schroeder of Germany. At Evian it should be possible for the G8 countries to help the African countries to set in motion an end to the Zimbabwe tragedy for the benefit of southern Africa and the wider world.
About 200 years ago in Russia, there was a prominent courtier of Catherine the Great called Potemkin. He became famous for constructing what were called Potemkin villages. They were constructed to greet the empress when she went on tour among her people. Those villages consisted only of facades of fine buildings with nothing behind. It would be a great pity if the NePAD treaty were allowed to resemble a Potemkin village.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Lord St John of Bletso
My Lords, I join all noble Lords who have spoken in wholeheartedly congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, on her well deserved appointment. Her dedication to Africa and developing countries will be a great example to her department. I also sincerely thank the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, for introducing this timely and topical debate.
When the NePAD initiative first emerged from discussions among leaders of various African states, many observers at the time expressed reservations about the capacity of those countries to work together and effectively to unite and address the fundamental challenges of reducing poverty and resolving conflicts. However, despite those early reservations and notwithstanding a certain loss of momentum in the shadow of other dramatic events around the world during the past year, almost a year on from its launch I believe that the number of NePAD doubters has diminished.
In my view, NePAD is a clear, principled initiative, which was devised by Africans for Africans; it has a momentum of its own and its time has come. Everyone knows that it is easy to bury Africa beneath an avalanche of statistics. My noble friend Lord Rogan mentioned that. It is true that more than 55 per cent of Africans live on less than one dollar a day, that life expectancy is only 47, that one in every five African lives will be affected by violent conflict and that seven out of 10 people in the world who have AIDS are from Africa. Yet it is also the case that 22 African countries achieved growth rates in excess of 4 per cent in 2001 and that bitter long-standing conflicts are in the process of being resolved in Sudan, Sierra Leone, Angola and the DRC. Of course, if we want to focus on the negative, it is not difficult to find more than enough reasons to shrug our shoulders and dismiss Africa as hopeless. However, we do have a choice. 851 The western world can also choose to be positive and offer real and meaningful support and encouragement to the African leaders who seek African solutions to African problems. In essence, NePAD involves a straightforward recognition by African leaders that it is they who carry the responsibility for solving African problems. The days of blaming former colonial powers—and, indeed, anyone else have passed. Those leaders have admitted past failings in governance and leadership and they have stated and agreed that good governance is a pre-requisite for Africa's recovery. They have also identified the three key goals of achieving macroeconomic stability, resolving conflicts in the region and creating a peer governance system to monitor progress. Ultimately, the goals of achieving political and economic transparency, mutual accountability and mutual trust are cornerstones to the success of this new initiative.
I am aware that it is said that NePAD is just another grand statement of intent, which was drawn up to prevent a reduction in aid from donor countries that are growing weary of corrupt governments in Africa. Personally, I take a totally different view. NePAD is a credible initiative and it deserves our wholehearted and ongoing support. I also believe that it provides the promise of a new start in the relationship between Her Majesty's Government and other African nations.
Ahead of the G8 Summit in Evian, President Mbeki of South Africa has warned his fellow leaders that Africa would have to fight for more attention at the summit. He went on to say that Africans would have to learn how to start relying on themselves.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of NePAD. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, has already outlined, there is one major barrier to the path of progress. It was not that long ago that the Zimbabwe issue was described by the G8 as the litmus test to NePAD's commitment to good governance. Sadly, the situation in this afflicted country worsens by the day.
Mugabe's misrule has undermined every principle on which NePAD is founded. I do not believe that the link between the success of NePAD and resolving the Zimbabwe crisis has been fully digested and accepted by all African leaders. I was fortunate enough just two weeks ago to meet the presidents of Uganda and Rwanda. While both of them gave their wholehearted support to NePAD, neither of them accepted the link between the resolution in Zimbabwe and the success of NePAD. Yet the crucial plank of NePAD is peer governance, whereby African nations unite to safeguard standards of government in neighbouring countries.
Thankfully, President Thabo Mbeki and President Obasanjo of Nigeria seem to recognise the urgency now of resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. Although their trip with the president of Malawi to meet Mugabe in Harare on 5th May did not yield immediate results, there are signs of progress along the slow, quiet path of diplomacy. The general debate appears to have 852 switched from "whether" Mugabe will step down to "when and how" he is to be removed. The resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis would provide a springboard for NePAD and Africa could leap forward, increasingly united, credible and resolved.
This is an historic challenge. There is a new spirit in Africa, but it requires support and encouragement. It needs the outside world to focus on the positive and so create the kind of "can do" environment in which NePAD will succeed. In my view, it has never been more important or more valuable to be positive about Africa and its future.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe
My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall on introducing the debate. Many noble Lords can speak with greater expertise than I in this area, but as a member of the All-Party Group on Africa, which he was instrumental in setting up and of which he is so able a vice-chair, I wanted to support the thrust of his debate. The All-Party Group aims to give greater visibility to the problems and challenges of the continent of Africa and to ensure that its needs are not ignored in the cacophony surrounding other crises in the world.
It is a timely moment for this House to discuss these issues in advance of the G8 summit at Evian which, as I see it, will be a test of whether the developed world is prepared to respond in concrete terms to the opportunity offered by the NePAD framework.
The uniqueness of that opportunity lies in the fact that NePAD is African owned and led. It was inspired by key African leaders who recognise that economic development and social change are dependent on putting right the failures of government and governance and the neglect of human rights which so often lead to conflict: and the continuing conflict in so many countries completely undermines any attempts to increase investment and thus Africa's share of global trade. Bad governance is a deterrent to foreign investment in Africa.
But as the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, emphasised only a moment ago, African leaders through the NePAD strategy have recognised their collective responsibility to create the conditions for development and investment by ending conflict, improving political governance and strengthening regional integration. They will be judged on their delivery, but that very recognition is such an important first step towards delivery. And of course it can be seen only as a first step. It must be backed up by commitment to action. There is, perhaps not surprisingly, a degree of scepticism about the progress that has been made.
Several noble Lords have held up the example of Zimbabwe as a failure of collective responsibility of African leaders. They have expressed concern that they have been slow to intervene in Zimbabwe and I very much share that concern. But steps are at last being taken by African leaders and there will be more. The NePAD framework is still in its infancy. It can 853 only move in partnership both within Africa and with international partners. I hope that we will not be deflected from unstinting support for this fledgling process. We have to be in this for the longer term, recognising the enormous pressures on individual participants in the NePAD process.
There are key reasons for optimism, as other noble Lords have said, and I will not enunciate them. But the challenge that NePAD leaders have posed to the developed world is that we should willingly work with them to define a new way of co-operating with Africa that involves partnership and mutual accountability. Developed countries, the G8, must demonstrate that they are willing to commit sustained, increased resources if we are to make that new partnership a reality.
We also need to see much greater co-ordination between the G8 on recognising the goals that it sets for development strategies. As others have said, both here and in another place, it is important for donors to collaborate. One suggestion has been that one of their number might be appointed as a "lead" donor that could negotiate with other donors in a particular country to develop a comprehensive and co-ordinated poverty reduction strategy.
I am aware that the G8 have set a challenging set of objectives to take the partnership with NePAD forward. The strength of these objectives is that each of them was developed in partnership with NePAD leaders. I want to compliment my noble friend the Minister—as she then was and now a most welcome appointment as Secretary of State—on the crucial part she played in representing the Prime Minister in these discussions.
But while I acknowledge that the aim of these challenging goals is to develop a new style of partnership that will unlock greater resources in the longer term, not only from the public purse but also from private sources, I hope that in her response the noble Baroness will be able to give us some indication of the timescale against which success in achieving these objectives will be assessed.
I would also welcome a clear checklist of proposals for future action against which we can judge both the progress of African partners and of G8 participants. It would be enormously encouraging if the Government were able, under the UK's presidency of the G8, to encourage all members to make Africa a priority.
Finally, from my background as chief executive of Universities UK—and I declare that interest—perhaps I may make a special plea for education. Investment in education is critical to economic and social development in Africa. It also holds the key to achieving full gender equality for women and girls—another important goal.
We cannot ignore the knowledge deficit that is a critical factor in holding back development in Africa. There is a huge brain drain. It is estimated that 30,000 Africans with doctorates live outside the continent. Young adults represent about 45 per cent of the population in most African states, but higher 854 education has barely made an impact. The median rate of entry into higher education is under 2 per cent in 30 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Universities have a vital role in producing the professionals that the region will need if it is to reach its development goals. Scholarships and fellowships remain key to this role; for example, the Association of Commonwealth Universities has developed split-site programmes and now provides distance learning scholarships and short professional fellowships to meet contemporary needs.
Will my noble friend confirm that the UK Government will continue to give priority to efforts to help African leaders not only achieve their goals on conflict resolution and better governance, but also in the key sector of education?
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Viscount Goschen
My Lords, like many other noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, I believe that NePAD gives us grounds for optimism. There are so many issues to worry about within the continent of Africa that an initiative by African leaders to recognise previous failings and to seek to address them on an international basis must be the key to the future development of that continent. I agree with my noble friend Lady Chalker that it is difficult to generalise from Angola, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to South Africa and to Mozambique. They are very different countries and to consider them all under the one broad grouping of Africa is to cast a wide net indeed.
There have been examples in Africa which give us some degree of optimism. The success of the South African Government in taking that country forward in the post-apartheid era is extraordinary. I had never imagined that it would be so successful. It keeps the key to the success of growth within the continent. If South Africa fails, the outlook for the rest of the continent is very poor. That is why we must give South Africa all the support we can.
The blight that faces the continent from the terrible plague of HIV/AIDS cannot be over-estimated. We are talking about countries and their governance where a large proportion of the civil servants will be infected by AIDS and dying. We are talking about capacity-building within those countries. The reality is that people are dying in great numbers, including in the educated middle-classes, and the difficulty that causes for the continuing administrations of many countries of central and southern Africa is profound.
We do African countries no favours unless we talk straight about the issues that are being faced. It' African leaders can face the truth of the failings of their forebears, so should we. The crucial reason for that is that business does not speak the language of diplomacy. Business understands sovereign guarantees and good governance. We in Parliament can persuade ourselves that things are going well, but we cannot make business invest in Africa unless the climate is created that will attract investment. That is 855 why I welcome initiatives such as the Africa Private Infrastructure Financing Facility and others which have been deliberately designed for that purpose.
So we have to mean what we say. If we say that NePAD is about good governance and about peer review, we have to consider the key test that that organisation now faces—another way of putting it is that it is an opportunity—and that is Zimbabwe.Many noble Lords have referred to the problem of Zimbabwe and how that can affect the whole success or otherwise of NePAD.
If we are talking about good governance, the sanctity of property, international governance and the rule of law, then torture, rape, the seizure of property and the destruction of agriculture cannot be tolerated. I agree with much of what the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, said in his powerful speech. None the less, quiet diplomacy is not the same as condemnation of such appalling practices. My belief is that unless these issues are strongly addressed and condemned, and unless African leaders are seen to uphold the principles encompassed within NePAD, that initiative will not be taken seriously. So Zimbabwe is a test but also perhaps an opportunity.
I was certainly surprised by the statement that the Secretary of State—it gives me great pleasure to use that description of the noble Baroness—made in a previous debate that Zimbabwe is not a test case for NePAD. How can that possibly be so? I am interested to know whether the noble Baroness has changed her opinion since she made that statement.
When the Foreign Secretary had discussions recently with President Thabo Mbeki, there were headlines stating that there was unity about the treatment of Zimbabwe. I am not sure that that is the case. I would appreciate clarification of that from the Secretary of State.
s NePAD has been criticised as being a top-down initiative involving only African leaders and not necessarily the rest of the countries' civil societies—the man in the village. Of course that is the case, but leadership has to come from somewhere and, in the first place, it must come from the leaders. Those who rule countries must give the first indication and the first support for such an initiative. What alternative is there? If we do not have NePAD we must have something very like it. We must have an acceptance from those who are in power that good governance must be the way forward for Africa.
How can we help? I believe that we in the West can help through carefully targeted aid, through donor funds, through making it clear to our partners within Africa that we intend to uphold our end of the bargain and through lobbying strongly in international forums for others to do so. We must also not be uncritical where we should be critical.
I leave your Lordships with a final thought. Is there some way in which Her Majesty's Government and our European partners can help with capacity building in the civil services of African countries? Often we see a situation where those at the top wish to see better 856 governance and wish to address the issues of corruption. It is easy to say that in a speech, but when the entire system has broken down it is difficult to execute. I welcome any initiatives that the Secretary of State can tell us about.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The Earl of Sandwich
My Lords, the noble Lord. Lord Lea, is an experienced trade unionist and economist and a strong advocate of NePAD. He also has the most resolute e-mail address of all of us, namely, lead@parliament. I congratulate him on initiating the debate and for his leading role in the new All Party Group on Africa.
I cannot and do not fault the principles behind the new partnership. I am impressed by the commitment of African leaders, already mentioned, and, so far, of the business community. What I am uneasy about is the lack of involvement of African people below the level of Minister and, indeed, anyone off the government payroll. As the noble Lord, Lord Lea, and others have said, Oxfam, Christian Aid and others have called for more visible participation by civil society in the development of NePAD. It will otherwise wither on the vine like so many other initiatives that have not been shared with NGOs, Churches, trade unions and other active components of society. It is surely the greatest test of good governance that more of the people have more of the share in decisions affecting their country whether or not their leaders have been elected.
I have read the UK's proposed implementation of the G8 Africa Action Plan agreed at Kananaskis. While it contains fine words, the G8 can hardly expect to achieve all of it, as the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, said. One political scientist has said that it will take a century for Africa to achieve even the degree of integration demanded by NePAD. Yet the process is under way. I have heard the positive comments of my noble friend. The AAP is also an important political initiative, a strong endorsement of the NePAD principles linked with promises of capital projects, PRSPs, enhanced sustainable debt relief and the doubling of aid according to the process agreed at Monterrey.
Aid is important if it is carefully channelled, but we must recognise the paramount role of trade. The world aid budget is only one seventh of the amount that developed countries spend a year in agricultural subsidies. I am aware of the Government's objectives for agriculture, but unless we move faster on the CAP we are condemning African countries to a permanent state of poverty.
The answer, as always, is a mixture of aid and trade. The SADC region holds out the most promise. Having been in Mozambique last December I know that the local agricultural markets are coming back to life, and the improved internal transport, international trade in food and commodities will be a lifeline for southern Africa's poorest countries. But when it comes to mutual accountability, I wonder whether donors are 857 keeping their side of the bargain. There are growing doubts about the millennium development goals and even the eradication of polio by 2006.
I come briefly to the peer review mechanism, which is the most ambitious part of NePAD. I agree that Zimbabwe cannot be ignored; yet the NePAD idea is so much bigger than Mr Mugabe. As the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said, it needs a stronger framework. There are still too many organisations involved. NePAD can and perhaps should deal mainly with the economic and social aspects, but I doubt whether the African Union can undertake the political side on its present form. I hope that the noble Baroness will give us her own opinion and not just what the UK Government want her to say.
I am not even sure about Africa's role in African conflict. Again, it is high on the agenda. It is said that NePAD cannot work in a situation of conflict, because it concerns development. Yet some of the same principles of international partnership must apply to international peacekeeping.
Peace and security, especially in the Congo, were high on the AAP agenda last year. But what happened? Until the latest horrors at Bunia there has been no real African or international initiative. I hope we shall see one now. We have some good examples of conflict resolution. Nelson Mandela's role has been widely commended and Sir Ketumile Matsire has played a powerful role in the internal dialogue in the Congo. But what about peacekeeping? Is the African Union equipped to make a response? Are Europe or NATO so equipped? Evidently not until now.
I welcome the announcement that some troops may go to the Congo, but I wonder whether that goes far enough. The UN compound in Bunia has been literally besieged by thousands of students and militia. The local police melted away and the Uruguay force at the airport could not cope. We have relied too much on neighbours like Uganda and Rwanda, local militia all with their own agenda. The two presidents of Uganda and Rwanda even came to No. 10 last week to put their case. They can he involved now only as part of an international force.
The UN has been waiting for a proper role in the Congo for several years but the will of the Security Council which can move mountains in the Balkans or the Middle East has simply not been present in the DRC. Sierra Leone showed what was possible in a contained area with a strong component of training. But is there likely to be any change in the Congo?
Will the Minister confirm that it is not principally an African but a European failure that has left MONUC unsupported, the local militia in charge and the Congolese people stranded? Was it not a breakdown in dialogue between Britain, France and Belgium? Can she give us any news of genuine progress on this in the European Union? Recently, the right reverend Prelate, who is in his place, raised that issue. I know that M. Wiltzer, the French Co-operation Minister, has recently spoken on the urgency of taking initiatives in Africa.
858 Does the Minister agree with Clare Short that the EU could do more to control small arms in Africa? Can we not do more to tighten up the ECGD's regulations on arms exports to Africa? I agree that African governments could also be much more transparent about their arms spending.
Finally, is it not time that Africa benefited from a UN regional peacekeeping initiative on the scale of those that we have seen in the Middle East? The Prime Minister is always talking about Africa. Now is the time for the noble Baroness to raise her voice in the Cabinet and to remind her colleagues that this continent deserves a higher profile and more action to match the rhetoric we have already heard. I am sure that she will.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lord Lea for proposing the debate. I join other noble Lords in hoping that my noble friend Lady Amos will use the same firm hand with the leaders of the G8 that she has used with various African leaders, and ask them to get on with the job.
There are some matters to which the G8 ought to pay attention. First, it is very important that the G8—especially the EU and the USA—should stop harming African agriculture. I hope that by the the time of the Evian summit we shall have a firm report on how CAP reform will be delivered. Secondly, we should have a promise from the United States that at the next discussions on the intellectual property rights problem in respect of pharmaceuticals it intends to agree to the WHO proposal for a limited lifting of the patent restriction. The USA is the only country to resist an agreement. I believe that we should hold the US to account on that.
Thirdly—I repeat the point of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich—bad as the situation in Zimbabwe may seem to us to be, the urgent problem in Africa is the Congo. People are dying in their thousands. While we wish that the UN should do X, Y and Z, we never provide it with the resources to carry out those wishes. Only the G8 can take hold of the issue and say that the Congo should be sorted out with a proper peacekeeping mission. Otherwise there will he many more deaths, which will be our fault for not having sorted out the matter.
Having got that problem off my chest, we should not forget that while there are problems in Africa good things also happen. My noble friend Lord Lea was kind enough to mention a recent comparison that I made between Africa and Asia when I pointed out how good Asia was. However, one must also remember that while we criticise Africa for its tragedies, we take the tragedies of Asia for granted. No one has stood up and said that Myanmar is a litmus test for someone's policy on Asia. But Myanmar exists. There is a problem in Acheh. I could point out other problems in Asia. So I do not think that we should single out Africa as being the only bad boy in the world.
Africa has its problems and its achievements. I especially mention the re-election of the president by peaceful democratic process in Nigeria. That is a great 859 plus. I should also mention the smooth transition of power in Kenya. Many of us said that that was not possible. The high growth rates of many African countries have been mentioned. Mozambique has now become a beacon of achievement rather than a land infested by civil war. So there is a possibility that Africa will emerge from its problems.
If we say to Africa that it should solve its own problems, we should not be too impatient if those solutions are not as rapid as we would wish. Europe has problems which it has not been able to solve rapidly either. So we should not ask why the problems of Zimbabwe are not being solved quickly. It is very important that ownership of NePAD remains with Africa. While we can do our best not to add to Africa's problems, we should not be so impatient that we take over the initiative to solve its problems.
The peer review process is welcome. However, not only is it ambitious, but it is not a process that any European country would accept. We should not assume that somehow a peer review process will be tolerable. It is an interference. Unless that interference is readily welcome—and welcome with co-operation by a local state—it will not succeed. It is no good imposing conditions on others which we would not accept. Therefore, I should be cautious about this peer review process. However, it is important that we welcome, highlight and advertise the successes of Africa in democratic political transition. It is important to be able to show that countries which had problems previously, such as Nigeria, can emerge from them by their own efforts. It was not outside help, it was Nigeria's own people who solved its problem. That is important.
I make one more point. We need major investment in Africa's agriculture to improve productivity. Again, as experience of East Asia shows, it is only when one creates prosperity in the rural areas that one establishes the foundations for continued prosperity.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Lord Alton of Liverpool
My Lords, in advance of the G8 summit in Evian the whole House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lea, for introducing this timely and well attended debate featuring so many singular contributions. This is also an opportunity to welcome the Minister to her new role as Secretary of State. I join other noble Lords in warmly welcoming her, not simply because of the personal achievement it represents, but also because I believe that it will bring focus into your Lordships' House on development issues and ensure that they are centre stage as political questions. We are grateful also to her for that reason.
One recurrent theme throughout the debate has been the relationship not just between NePAD, but between development itself, and conflict. Without resolution of conflict it will be very difficult to ensure the success of NePAD and bring about development. On a day when we have learned that the number of deaths in the Congo has now reached a staggering 3 million over the past five years—a point referred to 860 by my noble friend Lord Sandwich—I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to say something about the apparent failure of peacekeeping in the Congo and what more we can do to end that conflict.
Furthermore, I hope that she will reflect on the deteriorating situation in Dafur in western Sudan and the jeopardising of the Machakos peace process, what that represents and whether we can expect progress to be made. Many of us had hoped to hear by June that there would be progress and that we might see an end to conflict in Sudan, so enabling some development to take place.
The ending of the mandate of the special rapporteur for human rights in Sudan has created a vacuum in the human rights monitoring mechanism: it is one which many of us find very depressing. In the past few days a 14 year-old girl in Sudan, who is nine months' pregnant, was sentenced to 100 lashes of the whip for alleged adultery. The Sudanese Government have not ratified and do not adhere to the convention against torture. We know that torture and violation of human rights have played their part in fomenting many conflicts in countries throughout the continent, such as Rwanda, during the past few years.
The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, and other noble Lords referred to the situation in Zimbabwe. Last week, I and some other Members of your Lordships' House had the opportunity to meet Archbishop Ncube of Bulawayo, an extraordinarily brave and courageous man who has won widespread admiration for the way in which, perhaps in the steps of Desmond Tutu, he has been prepared to speak out against oppression in all its forms, risking his own life in so doing. If Robert Mugabe insists in fomenting conflict, his people will not just continue to suffer. The situation will spiral down, as it has done in the Congo, Rwanda and Sudan. That will jeopardise many innocent lives, including those of children.
A few months ago, I was able to travel into southern Sudan with the SPLA and to spend some time in the neighbouring Turkana region in northern Kenya. I also visited the shanty town of Kibera, a sprawling slum close to Nairobi, which the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, from whom many of us were pleased to hear earlier, knows. It is said to be the biggest slum in sub-Saharan Africa.
In each of those situations, I was struck by the number of rootless, drifting young people, and by the challenge that they pose to development. It is their plight on which I wish briefly to touch today. With 1 million orphans, often living rootless and disaffected lives, and their number rising exponentially, who can doubt that that will be one of the most serious challenges that that continent, riven by so many crises, must face? Africa is awash with feral children, faring little better than vermin. They deserve to be at the top of NePAD's agenda.
Orphaned children are the sharp end of the AIDS pandemic, but urban drift, civil war, a collapsing education system, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick of Undercliffe, referred in her excellent speech, human trafficking—an issue with which we 861 have been dealing in the Sexual Offences Bill during the past week—and corruption are all playing their part.
In a report, Children on the Brink, several agencies including UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, spelt out the scale of that disaster. It states of 88 countries studied:More than 13 million children currently under the age of 15 have lost one or both parents to Aids, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2010, this number is expected to jump to more than 25 million".By 2010, in 12 African countries orphans will comprise 15 per cent of all children under the age of 15. There are already indications that that will not be the peak. In Zimbabwe, for instance, 17.6 per cent of children are already orphans, three-quarters left parentless by AIDS. In Kenya, HIV prevalence among pregnant women ranges from 3 per cent in Monsoriot to 31 per cent in Chulaimbo. Bishop Patrick Harrington, the Bishop of Lodwar, in Turkana, told me that the district medical officer reports 34 per cent of the population infected by the HIV/AIDS virus. One Kenyan simply said to me, "Kenya is dying".
The consequences of a vast, dislocated and embittered underclass of orphaned children, if it is not tackled properly and fundamentally, will be devastating for Africa. Tomorrow's revolutionaries and tomorrow's coups are already in the making in the festering slums to which children with no hope or prospects are migrating. Here is a fertile breeding ground for both Marxism and the radical fundamentalism of some religious groups.
Culturally disaffected young people will always create unrest, but the numbers in Africa are without precedent. The crisis of orphans is often just shooed away; I see no evidence that we have properly understood the scale of that catastrophe or to what it may lead. The ravages of African civil war and tribal killings take their terrible toll. In southern Sudan, the vicious policies of the Sudanese Government have caused 2 million deaths and 4 million internally displaced people, including vast numbers of children. Development is impossible in places such as the Torit diocese, which I visited, which is being pounded into the ground. Auxilliary Bishop Akio Johnson showed me where bombs had showered down on schools and the shelters where children take refuge—"like foxes in holes", he said. For most children, there is no education at all. There are just 20 secondary schools in an area the size of western Europe.
That must be the key question for NePAD to address. It is not just a question of people in parliaments such as this lecturing people in Africa. We must work in partnership with them and use our resources, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, to ensure that something is done to tackle the issues.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Lord Hunt of Chesterton
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Lea on arranging this debate on NePAD, which potentially provides a new start for 862 Africa and for improved relations between Africa and the rest of the world. I declare an interest as chairman of ACOPS, an international non-governmental organisation set up by my noble friend Lord Callaghan to promote sustainable development worldwide, especially in marine and coastal areas.
I shall focus my remarks on environmental issues and how they are being tackled by NePAD and other, supporting initiatives. There is no doubt that environmental issues are of central concern for individual Africans suffering from lack of clean water, depleted fish stocks and desertification, to mention only a few. Those issues are included as one of the five groups of themes—the others in the group being infrastructure, IT and energy—where new initatives are to be developed under NePAD. The other groups are focused on economic, political and commercial issues.
While the UK Government are, rightly, focusing on urgent political and administrative issues, they are apparently not including those environmental issues in their work with NePAD, at least according to the DfID/FCO document of November 2002. That is perhaps surprising, as the Prime Minister in his visit to Africa in August 2000 and in the conclusions of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, emphasised environmental issues. However, some government departments and agencies are certainly working with African partners on environmental and sustainability projects, inside and outside the framework of NePAD, as I shall mention.
One key area for the African environment and for providing sustainable livelihoods is the coastal zones on and offshore. That was identified in the collaborative project called the African Process, involving many African and partner countries, which culminated in an agreed set of priorities and practical projects at a meeting of African heads of state at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. I witnessed the energy and intelligence of many African environmental experts, Ministers and officials last year at Abuja as we prepared for that world summit, with the support of President Obasanjo, whose important role in Africa was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Desai.
Those proposals are now being considered for practical action in the framework of NePAD. The responsibility and the secretariat for the overall coordination of environmental issues in NePAD, belongs to the Government of Senegal, under the leadership of President Wade and their environment Minister, the honourable Mr Diagne Fada. President Wade last year presented those issues at the G8 meeting in Canada. Other countries are given specific tasks within the specific areas of the environment programme. In the case of coastal zones, the lead is taken by the Kenyan environment Minister.
The emergence of such a structure, which I have described in a little detail, for doing business is clearly a great step forward. But it appears that the diplomacy involved has been quite stressful, as we have seen in the European Union when smaller countries are leading 863 the activities of larger countries. As the new approach shakes down, agreements at high levels of government must be accepted at the working level, as other noble Lords have mentioned. The establishment of those structures should also enable partner countries, international organisations and individuals to work more effectively with Africa on those issues.
It is encouraging that some major donor countries, including Japan, I believe, are providing substantial funds for the NePAD infrastructure. Similarly, officials in international and UN agencies, with their important conventions, such as the Abidjan and Nairobi conventions regarding coastal areas, must also work with the new arrangements. That will require some adjustment as, or we hope, they will in future be able to support the designated NePAD lead. Also, the NePAD structure should help non-governmental organisations and the private sector to work more effectively and transparently with African countries' civil society in future.
To illustrate that, next week, a unique conference is being held at the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society here in London to help to support the NePAD initiative on the environment and sustainability of coastal zones in sub-Saharan Africa. Twenty-five specialists and government representatives from about 10 African countries will meet about 50 UK, European and international specialists and officials. My noble friend Lord Evans of Temple Guiting will be representing Her Majesty's Government. Addresses by the Government's chief scientist and the Foreign Secretary at the Royal Society also show the strong commitment of the scientific community to follow up commitments made by governments at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
As I have already mentioned, there are other UK agencies, such as the Met Office, DEFRA, NERC and DfID, all of which recognise the vital interest to the whole world of the environment in Africa. At a somewhat more local level, I was delighted to hear of a splendid initiative undertaken by the World Wildlife Fund and Kiunga Marine National Reserve on the Kenyan coast, which even provides jobs for women—recycling flip-flops into delightful ornaments. These flip-flops wash up in enormous quantities on the coasts of Africa.
I join with other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend the Secretary of State on her new appointment. I look forward to hearing from her as regards how she will be directing the excellent capabilities of her department towards the solution of critical environmental and sustainability problems in Africa. As my noble friend Lord Judd might have shouted out, these are moral imperatives.
Finally—I hope that I do not break the rules here—I thought that noble Lords might be interested to hear about the strong support for NePAD from a senior official in Senegal who, this morning, sent an e-mail, which read:Le NePAD dolt être connu, diffusé et compris par tous les partenaires de l'Afrupie"—NeP AD must be known about, publicised and understood by all the partners of Africa.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Lord Chan
My Lords, I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, for securing this strategic debate. I, too, warmly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, on her appointment as Secretary of State for International Development. I wish her well, especially because of her commitment to Africa and now, I hope, to the rest of the world.
My involvement in Africa has concerned health and disease. The health of most Africans has not improved in the past three decades; if anything, it has got worse. The average life expectancy of Africans is now 47 years, or 30 years less than it is in the United Kingdom. Endemic disease, such as malaria, continues to kill a million people every year, including many children. Infant mortality rates in Africa are among the highest in the world. HIV/AIDS affect up to one in four adults in some African countries, resulting, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, reminded us, in 11 million children in sub-Saharan countries who have lost one or both parents. Young children orphaned by AIDS may have acquired the disease themselves.
I listened carefully to all noble Lords who have spoken about their expectations of improvement for Africa through the G8 summit at Evian. Development in Africa must now be focused on NePAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, a strategy led by Africans for sustainable development, and the reduction of poverty.
The ownership of the partnership by African leaders, with their role in politics and policy, gives hope for the future, but we all know that leadership commitment alone is not sufficient: local people must be engaged in the process. There is also NePAD's innovative plan for peer review to monitor progress and raise standards of political and economic governance. Thirteen African countries volunteered for peer review to take place. This initiative should be strongly supported by G8 countries, without too much negative criticism. Like other noble Lords, I urge Her Majesty's Government to take a lead to establish practical partnerships with NePAD countries.
Development success must clearly be linked with good governance, sound policies and effective aid. Like the noble Lord, Lord Judd, I ask her Majesty's Government to ensure that the substantial new development assistance commitments made by G8 will, by 2006, amount to 12 billion US dollars annually. Will every G8 donor decide how it will allocate the additional money pledged at Evian? Assuming strong African policy commitments, about half or more of the new development aid could be directed to African nations that govern justly, promote economic freedom, and invest in their own people—according to the document.
G8 has made a number of priority areas in support of NePAD: promoting peace and security; strengthening institutions and governance by capacity building programmes, promoting human rights, empowering women and implementing measures to combat corruption; fostering trade, investing, economic growth and sustainable development; 865 implementing debt relief; expanding knowledge; improving health, including HIV/AIDS; increasing agricultural production; and improving water resource management. That is a very large agenda. It is to be hoped that those issues will be tackled with persistence, and that they are not allowed to fade away.
The African Action Plan contains a commitment to provide the resources necessary to eliminate polio in Africa. The commitment will require equipment, vaccines, transport, and staff supervision. There is a requirement for 218 million US dollars to support the Polio Eradication Initiative, which began about 20 years ago. Non-G8 donors will need to be found to fill this funding gap. The United Kingdom will need to allocate an additional £37.9 million to polio eradication before the end of 2005.
Essential medicines are not available throughout the year in health clinics in Africa, and in other developing countries. Her Majesty's Government have made a commitment in the next 12 months to get international co-operation from G8, other governments, and the pharmaceutical industry, to increase the availability of essential and affordable medicines in Africa. Such medicines are needed to prevent and treat common and lethal infections for children, such as malaria. Antiviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS are needed, but at affordable costs. I look to the Secretary of State for a brief progress report on the health improvement commitments that the Government have made to NePAD.
Finally, western voluntary organisations should be encouraged to participate in initiatives with local communities in African countries. Health professionals who are willing to give their time and their skills to assist in community health services and in hospitals in African countries should be encouraged to go to Africa, though I fear that this is still in its early stages because of conflict. However, a small start has begun; for example, the International Child Health Group of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, of which I am a patron, has sent medical literature required by colleagues in Zambia. Much more can be done with the emergence of government lead, as I experienced in India during the time when the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, was Minister of Overseas Development.
I look forward to hearing the response of the Secretary of State for International Development, especially her words of strategic importance to Africa.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Baroness Northover
My Lords, I should like to emphasise what we said from these Benches last week when congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, on her new appointment. We know and recognise her huge commitment to this field. I am very glad that the noble Baroness's new responsibilities have not prevented her from being present in the Chamber today. Long may that continue.
866 We have had a most important debate. I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Lea, for his introduction. Tony Blair was surely right when he said that Africa was a scar on the conscience of the world. With the events in Iraq, it would indeed be too easy to focus on the Middle East alone, and to forget the needs of Africa. Those needs are glaring: acute poverty; the high rates of HIV/AIDS, as other speakers have mentioned, which takes out those in their most productive years; low economic growth; appalling conflicts, such as those now unfolding in the DRC and elsewhere; and corruption. All of the latter hold back hopes of progress. No wonder universal primary education and adequate health care for all seem such a distant hope.
Aid alone, as others have said, cannot deal with these problems, nor can debt relief alone, although these are both vital. But as the noble Lords, Lord Rogan and Lord St John of Bletso, and others have said, Africa itself needs to address these questions, and that is why the creation of NePAD must surely be welcome.
There are at least two views of NePAD: one is that it is a positive development, and that African countries will indeed support each other to democratise and prosper. And then there is the view that they will take no such action—Zimbabwe is taken as a case in point and the DRC might be as well—and that NePAD is a mere fig leaf for those who wish to do nothing. Perhaps there is a middle, more neutral view of "wait and see".
The Government recently stated the view that NePAD had made good progress since its inception. The noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, argued:It has established a broad base of support from African governments. We and others are committed in our support for NePAD, in particular through the G8 Africa Action Plan. NePAD needs time to make further progress and it needs the active support of the international community".—[Official Report, 6/5/03; col. 939.]That is a welcome statement.
As other noble Lords have said, it is clearly very important that African countries themselves have signed up to this agreement. Few would disagree with its aims. The eradication of poverty through the pursuit of sustainable growth and development, underpinned by the advancement of good governance, democracy, human rights and conflict resolution. We surely must welcome those aims.
In a debate on 29th April in another place, Hugh Bayley made the telling point:We need to recognise who the sceptics are …There are western leaders who do not want to commit to more aid or to refocus their aid on the alleviation of poverty. They do not want to change the terms of trade between the rich and poor worlds …They do not want to have to adjust the way in which the rich world deals with rural economies. There are African leaders who do not want to be accountable to their people".He also pointed out:For every sceptic in Africa there is an enthusiast, and the enthusiasts and their countries will benefit most from NEPA D".867 His analysis was that many African developments had failed over the years because they were built on expectations that people outside Africa would do certain things, particularly in providing more aid. He said:NEPA D's strength is that it concentrates on what Africa can do for itself.".—[Official Report, Commons, 29/4/03; col. 35WH.]Hugh Bayley makes a persuasive case. That does not mean that we should not make challenges. The action, or lack of action, over Zimbabwe is surely one area we must address, as noble Lords have said. But also, as my noble friend Lord Avebury said, it is justifiable to suggest ways of improving NePAD's independence and its concepts of human rights and good governance. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, also made important comments about the need to involve ordinary Africans in this process. All noble Lords rightly agree that we should support the process.
When the G8 meets in France shortly, there will be a great deal on the agenda, not least the situation in Iraq. There are many bridges and relationships that need to be mended. It seems that half a day at most will be devoted to Africa. I hope that the Secretary of State will reassure us that due attention will be paid to the situation in Africa. Will the international finance facility proposed by the Chancellor be on the agenda for the G8? How far will the G8 address the health questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chan? And could the noble Baroness tell us what the UK proposes for the G8 summit in terms of fair trade and reform of the CAP and of the EU?
As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, pointed out, not only the EU needs to change. The US has become particularly flagrant about its own protectionism in recent years. The example the noble Lord gave of the cotton subsidies bears this out, and there are many other examples. But opening markets in the poorest countries has to be approached with care. Some are so poor and their infrastructure so weak that they will simply lose out if that happens. China may be well placed to exploit the opening of markets, but this may not he the case for a country such as Malawi.
Can the noble Baroness assure us that in considering the situation in Africa as a whole, the Government will press on the US the need to contribute its fair share of aid, including to the United Nations and its organisations? Can she also assure us that the crisis in the DRC will be addressed, as the noble Lords, Lord Desai and Lord Alton, and others have said?
The G8 Africa Action Plan paper, Towards the 2003 Summit, issued in 2002 states:Up to and beyond June 2003 the UK Government will support the resolution of conflicts and consolidation of peace in the Great Lakes region".The United Nations Security Council debated the crisis in Ituri last week and agreed that current MONUC deployments are insufficient and further action is vital. They talked about a rapid reaction force that could stabilise the region.
868 At the weekend, Kofi Annan called for states to come forward to support this idea, and France has indicated its willingness to contribute troops as part of an international force, perhaps led by the South Africans. Therefore, all EU states—and the UK in particular—must be pressed to support this initiative in any way possible. I note that at Prime Minister's Questions, the Prime Minister responded positively to this idea, and I would like to hear more on this subject from the noble Baroness.
The G8 must also make real efforts to tackle the global trade in arms and ensure that G8 countries are not undermining efforts to win peace in key African countries by supplying arms to these same countries.
As we have heard, there will be much on the agenda in Evian and many relationships to restore, not least with our European partners. But if we are indeed to reduce the likelihood of conflict, addressing the situation in Africa has to be a major part of that agenda.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Baroness Rawlings
My Lords, I, too, add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, for initiating this debate today. With the G8 starting in less than two weeks, it is both important and timely.
The debate has been of the highest quality, with moving details of personal experiences from many of your Lordships. I was so pleased, as was the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that my noble friend Lady Chalker was able to contribute to this debate. She is, without doubt, one of the most knowledgeable people in this area, with all the work she does and the important business that she now leads called Africa Matters Ltd.
Though previous continent-wide initiatives have failed to deliver, there is still hope that NePAD's outcome will differ. We need to recognise that NePAD represents a significant shift in pan-African policy and that one year on we are still very much at the start of the process.
There have been some positive signs in African countries, as we have heard from my noble friend Lord Goschen, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Desai. World Bank reports show that life expectancy is increasing—for example, in Gambia it has risen from 45 to 53 years—and the percentage of the population in education has doubled in several African countries, including Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia.
However, the continent's economic performance as a whole remains disappointing. Real GDP since the 1980s has averaged only 2.5 per cent a year, while real GDP per capita has remained virtually unchanged. There is no denying that extreme poverty is still widespread, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and that significant proportions of the population live on less than a dollar a day, as we have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Rogan and Lord St John of Bletso, and many others.
869 One in three people is infected with HIV. It is vital that NePAD's implementation is set within the context of HIV/AIDS and shocks such as chronic food insecurity, as we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Chan. In 2000, it was estimated that AIDS was wiping out 1 per cent of Africa's GDP per year. Can the noble Baroness tell us what the figure is now?
Issues of accountability and ownership are vital features of NePAD. The African peer review mechanism, as mentioned by most noble Lords, is an important part of that. We welcome the statement by the chairman of the steering committee in April that the independent panel of experts is expected to be appointed within the next two months. It is a worry, though, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, that only 13 states have yet signed up to it. However, I share the frustration expressed by so many that so little has been done about the appalling humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. I find interesting the comparative explanation of the noble Lord. Lord Lea of Crondall, linking the situation of Mugabe with that of Scargill as,genuflection to the old-time religion".I wonder if that is really good enough.
I am very pleased that the Secretary of State, is here for this important debate. Her presence gives extra weight to these difficult issues. She said that the attitude of African leaders towards President Mugabe was "disappointing". That is surely an understatement. As my noble friends Lord Blaker and Lord Goschen so rightly said, Zimbabwe is central to the future success of NePAD.
The refusal by African leaders to attend the African conference in Paris if Mugabe was not invited put African solidarity first, contradicting the commitment that leaders made under NePAD to provide and support good governance and ignoring their responsibility to Zimbabwe's suffering people. It is hard to promote NePAD if it flouts its obligations. We all have responsibilities as well as rights. As my noble friend Lady Chalker said, corruption exists only if someone offers the bribe. What discussions have the Government had with NePAD members about the formation of a sanctions mechanism to punish bad behaviour and breach of commitments?
There must be more recognition by Africa's governments of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. Recent talks undertaken by the leaders of Malawi, South Africa and Nigeria produced nothing but stalemate. Enough talking; now is the time for action with Mugabe.
If I may remind noble Lords of Christian Aid's comments in 2002, warning that,NEPAD has been developed predominantly between African heads of state …and the G8 leaders. It is not just a partnership between African heads of state and their own people, or between African peoples".Can the noble Baroness please comment on the measures taken to involve civil society in NePAD, as mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Rogan?
870 For NePAD to make real progress towards the 2015 millennium development goals, it is vital that Africa's nations are supported by the international community. I wish to focus particularly on trade, as highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick. Africa has 12 per cent of the world's population but only 2 per cent of its trade. Trade helps towards employment, and, as my noble friend Lady Chalker so rightly stressed, security comes with employment. Full integration into the international trading system could release an estimated 150 billion US dollars' extra income for developing countries. However, little progress has been made within the G8 and the EU.
The noble Lord, Lord Judd, mentioned in his very eloquent speech that dumping is another problem. The past three deadlines of the Doha trade negotiations have been missed. Doha was a crucial kick-start on trade, but progress is still disappointing. However, how are we working with NePAD to ensure that trade barriers and tariffs between African countries are tackled?
I have touched on only a few of the issues surrounding NePAD. We must reassure NePAD members that we support and follow the progress of this young body, which has huge potential to do great good for the African people. However, we remain critical in our assessment not only of their achievements but of the achievements of our Government in seeking to deliver changes needed to meet the millennium development goals.
§ 7 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos)
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall on securing a debate on this important issue, and on his work with the All-Party Group on Africa, at whose inaugural meeting I had the pleasure of speaking earlier this year. I also thank my noble friend for his work in seeking to build relationships between French and British parliamentarians. I thank noble Lords for their very positive remarks about my work and my role. In particular, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, that we share the same objectives. I hope that the House will not mind if I thank the noble Baroness in particular for her very warm words and support.
A debate on NePAD and mutual accountability is timely in the run-up to the G8 Summit at Evian, where G8 leaders will receive a report on implementation of the G8 Africa Action Plan. Our debate focused on four main areas: why NePAD is important, the response of the G8 to NePAD, areas of particular concern highlighted by noble Lords, and the key challenges that remain.
NePAD matters for Africa's development. The challenges faced by Africa are widely known, and the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, mentioned them. At present, one fifth of the world's poorest people live there, and on current trends that will rise to a half by 2015. Without major changes in how Africa does business and how we do business with Africa, it will become even further marginalised. NePAD matters because it 871 is an African response to its own development problems. It is an African articulation of African priorities. It sets out a set of principles for the economic, social and political development of the continent and is, therefore, a major step towards achieving sustainable development in Africa and managing its reintegration into the global economy. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, that this represents a step change in the way that African leaders think about their continent.
NePAD identifies the priorities to be pursued by African governments. Africa needs to create an enabling environment to stop capital flight—and skills flight, as my noble friend Lady Warwick of Undercliffe, noted—and to secure investment. To do so, it needs to put an end to conflicts that blight the lives of its people. It needs to put in place sound economic policies to address corruption, improve the quality of governance and tackle the spread of HIV/ AIDS. I shall return to that point.
Without such action, the millennium development goals will not be achieved. Without change, there will be little domestic or foreign investment in Africa, resulting in continued low growth or stagnation. Furthermore, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, was right to point out that the diversity that exists in Africa is not recognised by business when thinking about investment in Africa.
NePAD acknowledges these problems. African leaders have said that they are going to take responsibility and that they are willing to be judged by their peers and citizens. Principles for economic, corporate and political governance have been set out, and 12 heads of state have already signed up to them. The first peer reviews will begin later this year. However, we must recognise that these are early days and that the peer review mechanism is a long-term agenda for raising standards of governance. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked a series of questions about the nature of the peer review process, while the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, along with other noble Lords, was critical of the fact that, so far, only 12 countries have signed up to the principles.
It is important to be realistic. It is my view that good progress has been made. Only in July last year did the African Union adopt NePAD. Our own OECD-DAC peer review process, although set up some 40 years ago, is still being refined. That demonstrates the complexity of the exercise when countries judge each other through a peer review mechanism. Building on the notion of mutual accountability, the African peer review mechanism will examine African commitments to political, corporate and economic governance in a specific country. It is a voluntary process to monitor and raise governance standards in Africa. It has almost been finalised, but has not yet been launched. Work in progress includes setting up a panel of eminent persons, finalising technical work on developing agreed definitions of mutual accountability and selecting an institution to undertake the reviews of 872 corporate governance. All this will be done at the NePAD Heads of State Implementation Committee meeting to be held at the end of May.
I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, about the need for an inclusive process; he spoke about the importance of including NGOs in this. I hope that that will develop over time. With respect to the political aspects of peer review, I understand that, for the time being, NePAD will draw on experts selected on an individual basis until the institutions of the African Union take on this role. It is likely that economic governance reviews will be undertaken by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Economic governance reviews are likely to begin earlier than the political reviews. UNECA has said that it believes that two or three reviews will be completed by the end of the year. I think that that is a very ambitious timetable, but it is what the organisation has said. I can also assure the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that the NePAD secretariat has been in discussion and consultation with the OECD about the peer review process. It is intended that the NePAD secretariat will eventually go into the African Union once restructuring of the union has been completed.
As regards mutual accountability, the UNECA paper recommends that donors should be reviewed on policy coherence, medium-term aid flow, donor practices and capacity building. The African side should be reviewed on peace, security and political governance, economic and corporate governance, and human development.
If Africa is to make progress, donors as well as African governments must work together to improve performance. That means increasing the volume of aid, improving the quality and ensuring coherence in other policies such as trade, as well as working to attract investment. The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, was correct to remark that the right kind of framework needs to be put in place to attract investment and create employment. Africa's development will come from economic growth.
The last G8 summit announced its Africa Action Plan, which includes a commitment to ensure that half or more of the new development funds announced last year in Monterrey will be used in African countries to create the right policy environment. The plan also listed the responses to be made to NePAD by G8 countries, including those on conflict, trade, health, education, water and aid effectiveness. My noble friend Lady Warwick asked for a checklist against which we can judge progress. The G8 will report concrete indicators of progress at the summit in June. A number of countries will produce country progress reports at Evian so that the public will he able to judge our performance. But we should be clear that this year's summit, although it is a key milestone, is not an end in itself. We and our G8 partners will continue to work on implementation of the action plan through our bilateral programmes and our multi-lateral engagements beyond Evian. We have performed a key 873 role in maintaining high-level political interest. We need to build on that momentum, including through our increased development assistance to Africa.
I turn now to peace and security issues. We want to highlight the commitment to a co-ordinated effort to bring the peace process in Africa to a rapid conclusion, and to make a longer-term commitment to post-conflict reconstruction. Concrete progress has been made towards building peace in Sudan—which is a particular interest of the noble Lord, Lord Alton—in Burundi and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We need ensure that final important steps are taken in those peace processes, as well as to intensify efforts to plan for peace and ensure that reconstruction efforts are successful. We also need to consolidate peace elsewhere, including in Angola, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Alton, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, raised the problem of the DRC. I should remind the House that the DRC is the size of western Europe and that there is no infrastructure. I acknowledge that there are weaknesses in MONUC. International partners have been working together much more closely. Those partners include South Africa, France, Belgium, ourselves and African countries neighbouring the conflict area.
Noble Lords will have been concerned about the recent upsurge in violence in the east of the country despite the signing-off of the peace process in South Africa and moves to put in place a transitional administration. The upsurge in violence was discussed last week in the Security Council and urgent consideration is now being given to the possibility of creating an international force to complement the work of MONUC and try to stop this violence as soon as possible.
I cannot agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that there have been no African initiatives in the DRC. South Africa has played a critical role in securing the peace. The noble Earl mentioned the important role played by Sir Ketumile Masire, while my predecessor, Clare Short, facilitated talks between Rwanda and Uganda.
It is also important to mention our work to build African capacity in conflict management. A plan has been produced and will be put to leaders at the Evian summit to be held at the beginning of June. I should also like to say something about small arms and light weapons—an issue raised by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover. The United Kingdom has pledged over £20 million to combat small arms problems, including a regional programme for east Africa, the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. We also have national plans in Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.
My noble friend Lord Lea asked for more information about the multi-donor-funded public/ private infrastructure facility. The facility advises governments on improving the enabling environment for private sector participation. The Emerging Africa 874 Infrastructure Fund, launched in 2002, recently made its first investment in a pan-African telecommunications company. The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, was quite right to point out that, while we cannot make business invest in Africa, we can work with the governments of developing countries to put in place the right enabling framework.
I mentioned earlier the money committed by the international community at Monterrey. I agree with my noble friend Lord Judd that we need to ensure that that money is delivered, as well as ensuring that the aid is targeted and distributed in such a way that it can produce the most positive results.
On health, since 1988 the United Kingdom has contributed over 354 million dollars towards the eradication of polio, including an additional 25 million dollars at Kananaskis last year. I assure my noble friend Lord Judd that we have worked with others to encourage pledges to close the critical funding gap. We have increased our assistance for basic education.
With regard to the global health fund, my noble friend will be aware that, for 2004, the United States has pledged an additional 1 billion dollars, which is conditional on the US contribution to the fund not being more than 33 per cent. It is an incentive for other donors to make contributions. The United States has also made a commitment of an additional 15 billion dollars for HIV/AIDS. The noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, spoke movingly about the situation of AIDS orphans. We provide substantial support to UNICEF, which is helping to tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS orphans. We also have partnership agreements with several international development NGOs.
I am happy to write to noble Lords with more information about what we are doing with respect to health and HIV/AIDS, as there are several other issues that I would like to cover in the time available. We are proposing to the G8 that we demonstrate the success of the access to medicines framework for public/ private partnership in Ghana and Rwanda initially. We hope that that will lever further international commitments onto the agenda.
The replenishment of the HIPC trust fund has now been agreed. The UK has made a further bilateral pledge of 95 million dollars, bringing our total pledges so far to over 400 million dollars, in addition to our share of any further EC pledge. Donors have pledged an additional 850 million dollars to the HIPC trust fund, to cover the costs of debt relief for multilateral creditors that do not have sufficient resources to pay for HIPC debt relief.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, referred to the extractive industries transparency initiative. It seeks to create transparency in payments and revenues in the extractive industries—oil, gas and mining—in countries heavily dependent on those sectors. We hope that, at the G8 summit, we will get endorsement of action to take forward the initiative as part of a broader action plan on transparency and corruption, which is one of the priorities that the French have set. 875 I turn to some of the challenges that remain. Some noble Lords questioned whether we should support NePAD, when it has taken no decisive action over Zimbabwe. The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, is right: the situation in Zimbabwe is dire. I hope that the initiative taken by Presidents Muluzi, Mbeki and Obasanjo results in some positive changes in Zimbabwe. However, NePAD is not an organisation, person or entity. It is a framework that prioritises key development issues for Africa and is bought into by African governments.
The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, referred to my previous statement that Zimbabwe was not a test case for NePAD. The success or failure of NePAD cannot be judged on the issue of Zimbabwe alone. As I said, the peer review process was endorsed by the African Union only in July last year. We would blight an entire continent if we were to judge it on the basis of what happens in one country. I cannot agree with the noble Baroness. Lady Rawlings, that nothing has been done to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The British Government feed 1,500,000 Zimbabweans a day, and we are the second largest humanitarian donor after the United States.
Trade was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, my noble friend Lord Desai and the noble Baronesses, Lady Northover and Lady Rawlings. We know that Africa's full integration into the international trading system would have a hugely beneficial impact on Africa's development. Africa has 12 per cent of the world's population but only 2 per cent of the trade. The summit comes at a critical time in the trade round. It will be important to demonstrate some concrete progress on the commitments made in the Africa action plan on trade.
We have made progress on improved trade-related capacity building, on support for regional economic integration and on improving the preference schemes accessible to African countries. Huge challenges remain, and we will continue to try to get agreement in the run-up to Cancun.
Humanitarian crises are a third major challenge. I was encouraged by the response of the international community to meeting recent humanitarian needs in southern Africa, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The UK played a major role in that. However, the role of the international community must go further than supplying food aid. We must support Africa in addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity, which include poverty, ill health, poor governance and conflict.
The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, touched on the importance of regional co-operation, working in partnership and actively involving the people. That was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings. Noble Lords will be pleased that the Department for International Development has funded an NGO in South Africa to communicate NePAD ideas and principles to NGOs in South Africa, as part of the process of communicating ideas.
876 My noble friend Lord Hunt of Chesterton raised the issue of the environment. Environmental issues are part of sustainable development and part of our fight against poverty. We are engaged through international processes and through our commitments under the G8 Africa Action Plan, focusing on water and agriculture. I was also asked about agriculture, and the noble Viscount. Lord Goschen, asked about capacity building. If noble Lords will allow me, I will write on those matters, given the time.
In conclusion, I reiterate our support for NePAD, because of its African ownership, because of mutual accountability and because of the importance of performance measurement. I assure noble Lords that no resources have been diverted from Africa to Iraq, and I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, that there is a commitment to talking about Africa at the Evian summit. President Chirac has made that clear. I also assure noble Lords that we are seeking international support for the international financing facility, which would mean a doubling of development assistance and would mean that we could achieve the millennium development goals.
The UK Government will continue to support NePAD and Africa. We will continue to work with others for further progress towards the achievement of the millennium development goals.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Lord Lea of Crondall
My Lords, in the couple of minutes available, I must thank all those who spoke in a well informed debate. In particular, I thank the Secretary of State for her thorough response. The debate has helped to secure wider understanding of what is meant by mutual accountability. The penny has dropped on what an ambitious programme NePAD is, despite the paradox of having the commitment of African presidents to NePAD side by side with their great reluctance to be accused of neocolonialism.
The Secretary of State pointed out that we must use realistic benchmarks for progress but also said that—I paraphrase her conclusion—there were grounds, on balance, for more hope than despair. We look forward to further consideration of the matter following the Evian summit and to the work that lies ahead. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.