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Africa: Gleneagles Implementation Plan

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) has made the following Statement.

I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses, alongside this Statement, copies of the December update of the G8 Gleneagles Implementation Plan for Africa. This plan is updated monthly by the Department for International Development (DfID) on behalf of all departments.

A year ago, the Government set out 11 objectives that we hoped would be achieved by the end of 2006 (Annexe 1—Box 1). I am pleased to report that the majority of these have been met, although more progress is needed on the Africa Standby Force and donor support for 10-year education plans and significant progress is needed on trade.

Effective international monitoring mechanisms have been put in place. G8 leaders reviewed progress at the 2006 summit and will do so again at the 2007 summit in Germany. The Africa Partnership Forum produced its first three progress reports in October 2006, with four more expected in May 2007. The civil society, African Monitor, is gaining momentum. The UK has helped create the Africa Progress Panel, to be chaired by Kofi Annan, to complement these other mechanisms.

Global aid rose 32 per cent in 2005 to $106.8 billion—a record high. Preliminary aid figures for 2006 will be available from the OECD in April 2007, with the EU publishing a progress report for member states in May. Aid levels may fall back in 2006 and 2007 as debt relief declines, but the UK will continue to press donors to meet their 2005 pledges so we meet the overall target to increase global aid by $50 billion by 2010. The UK is on track to meet its target to provide 0.7 per cent of national income as aid by 2013. Future spending projections are being finalised as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The first bonds for the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) were released in November 2006, raising $1 billion. In total, the IFFIm will raise $4 billion, and these additional resources should save more than 10 million lives including five million children before 2015.

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Fund have implemented the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) agreed at Gleneagles. Twenty-one countries (17 African) have reached “Completion Point” and had debts worth $36 billion cancelled under the MDRI.

The UN Peacebuilding Commission has been established and begun work on Burundi and Sierra Leone. The African Union is making progress towards its objective of a fully operational African Standby Force (ASF) by 2010. The ASF has around 15,000 troops pledged, and Brigade Headquarters have been established and are manned in three regions. But faster progress is needed on this.

The UN Convention Against Corruption has entered into force and international agreement has been reached on mechanisms for implementing and monitoring it, for tackling international asset recovery and co-ordinating technical assistance. Twenty-six countries have signed up to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Three countries (Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda) have completed the Africa Peer Review Mechanism process and are beginning to implement recommendations. South Africa and Algeria should be peer reviewed in 2007. We would like to see more countries with self-assessments under way.

The launch of a major new education initiative at the Financing for Development conference in Nigeria in May 2006, and the UK's pledge to provide £8.5 billion for education over the next 10 years, have helped to stimulate 25 African countries to begin work on long-term education plans. The Education Fast Track Initiative (FTI) is being expanded to 60 countries. Twenty-eight countries have FTI-endorsed education sector plans. Three further plans are likely to be approved in early 2007 with a further 15 likely by the end of 2007. A conference—to be convened by the EU and the World Bank in the spring—will encourage donors to make long-term commitment to fund these plans.

Supported by the UK, Zambia has now introduced a policy to remove formal user fees for health, with discussions under way elsewhere (e.g. Burundi). A group led by the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, the Netherlands and the UK is tackling access to health services by trying to improve co-ordination among donors, efficiency and resource availability.

The UK issued a global call for action on water and sanitation—linked to the 2006 UN Development Programme Human Development Report, which highlighted the urgency of the challenge and action the international community should take to meet this. Alongside this, the UK has increased its own efforts: DfID is focusing on 12 African countries, with Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo identified as top priorities.

The number of people receiving AIDS treatment in low and middle income countries rose from 400,000 to 1.6 million between 2003 and 2006, rising tenfold in sub-Saharan African alone to around 1 million. This represents around a quarter of those in need, so there is a long way still to go. Treatment has prevented around 250,000 to 300,000 premature deaths in developing countries in 2005. The international focus is firmly on achieving universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010. The UK is providing substantial funding for new initiatives like the International Drug Purchase Facility (UNITAID) and increasing its contributions to organisations like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria (GFATM) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The EU is developing an Action Plan on Recruitment of Health Workers to address training and retention, to strengthen developing country health services and to ensure EU member states' recruitment policies do not adversely affect developing country health services. This should be finalised shortly. The new secretariat of the Global Health Workforce Initiative is helping countries and regional institutions such as the African Union in areas like human resource planning and lesson learning across countries.

Important changes have been made to the international humanitarian system, to increase its ability to prevent and to respond to emergencies. The new Central Emergency Response Fund (CERT) has already demonstrated its value as a source of rapid-response funds for “neglected” humanitarian crises such as in Timor-Leste, where in April and May 2006 more than 135,000 became displaced overnight following the outbreak of fighting. The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator (HC) system has being strengthened, with a new secretariat focused on training and deployment. Twenty-one experienced co-ordinators have been trained, providing a pool to respond to crises, most recently in Lebanon. The “Cluster Approach” has increased co-ordination among agencies. A joint World Bank/DfID programme is supporting integration of disaster risk reduction measures into development strategies, focusing on particularly vulnerable countries (including Malawi and Mozambique). Reform of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction is gaining momentum. DfID is supporting this, alongside other initiatives like the Pan-American Health Organisation's programme for emergency preparedness and disaster relief and the ProVention Consortium of international donors on disaster risk reduction.

The one area where progress has been very disappointing is trade. Informal talks on the Doha round of World Trade Organisation negotiations restarted in late 2006. The UK Government continue to push for early agreement on a deal that will substantially help poor countries, provide extra aid for private sector development, cut agricultural subsidies and end export subsidies.

The UK Government are delighted that Germany has identified Africa as a top priority for its G8 and EU presidencies this year. We will be working hard to ensure that this delivers further progress on Africa. As part of the Government's commitment to accountability, we have established 10 milestones which we believe need to be achieved by July 2007 (Box 2 in the Gleneagles Implementation Plan). I will provide a full report on these at that time.