G8 and broken promises
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Some call it a mere talking shop. But for others it is a genuine avenue of hope for the emancipation of the poor from the predicament of impoverishment.
And still, for a third category of people, who would rather hold on to the belief that the best the G8 can do is to formulate tantalizingly endless promises, the summit offers just another opportunity for a 'ploy' at a continental level. Instead of discussing real economics and agriculture, sideline influences are always sure of transforming the agenda into political discourse with no significant bearing on the world's poor.
The summit of the group of the 'all mighty' 8 industrialized nations (G8) is currently under way. As you would expect, top on the agenda, and it seems that it has always been so, are broken promises, energy and fuel rises, subsidies, and all those terms reminiscent of despondency.
Someone charged that both the leaders of the G8 countries and 'our own African leaders' have failed us. While the previous promises made by the G8 to double aid to the needy by 2010, have passed on uncharted, they argue that the sheer increase in crises and corruption has blighted the continent. And the issue of poverty is emphasized greatly by the increase in sight in the number of mal-nourished people of the world, mainly Africans. And today, the biggest culprit to that is the wild idea of biofuel, another dominant debate subject.
Contrary to what the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, said at the G8 summit in the Japanese resort of Toyako, the issue has not much to do with growing more food on the part of the rich world; rather, it is more of a question of morality. Obviously, a competition between the empty stomachs of the poor and the fuel-hungry industrialized economies of the West is sure to crush the former.
Therefore, if there should be any call for more food production it should be by Africans and to Africans. The only help we might therefore seek would be a lift on the numerous restrictive agricultural policies and barriers. This brings to mind the dodgy issues of subsidies and tariffs, coupled with the rigid trade rules which are always sure of chucking the developing nations out of competition.
Mr Zoellick's remark is an apparent admission of guilt regarding a moral crime the West do not seem ready to accept. Biofuel indeed contributes greatly to the hike in food price.
However, with all these at the backdrop, we have only just a few alternatives left, which include strengthening of agricultural commitment at the national levels. The citizens also have to help by standing by their national governments. As President Jammeh said, Operation Feed Yourself is the only sure root to total independence.