G20 summit: excluded African voices

We all know the fatal flaw in the G20 London summit this week. Decisions made, or more likely fudged, will have the greatest impact on countries which are not part of the group. South Africa is the only representative of Africa in the G20.

Led by George Soros, some western commentators have tried to draw attention to the potential impact of the global recession on the poorest countries. However, the media have made limited efforts to report on local opinion or to interview senior African politicians.

I had a look at some of the sources that we use for OneWorld Guides. Here are a few short quotes by leaders from sub-Saharan Africa which give a flavour of their mood. I haven’t listed the occasions or dates, but they were all reported in recent weeks and can be traced in search engines.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia: “The cost of sustainability in reform and recovery is much, much less than the cost of peacekeeping were the crisis to engender a return to conflict.”

Raila Odinga, prime minister of Kenya: “When there are problems in Africa, Africans will vote with their feet by coming to Europe.”

Donald Kaberuka, president of African Development Bank: “We know it is hard for people in Europe – losing their homes, losing their jobs. In the case of countries like Liberia it is lives which are being lost, not jobs.”

Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania: “the crisis threatens to reverse or even wipe out the hard won socio-economic gains made by African countries over the past few decades…… it is clear that weaknesses in the regulatory mechanisms of the international and national financial systems impact negatively on all countries irrespective of whether they are responsible.”

Umaru Yar’Adua, president of Nigeria: “These developments have grave implications for macro-economic stability, economic growth and sustainable development in our country.”

Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia: “Any stimulus money spent in developed countries is going to have less global impact than if the same amount of money were to be spent in Africa. We are talking about the range of money that is being spent on the mid-sized banks. Consider Africa as one of those banks.”

Yayi Boni, president of Benin: “It is important to support strategies defined by developing countries. The international community must demonstrate that it really wants to help Africa.”

Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda: “The problem is the unsustainable mode of modernisation where everybody has a car instead of using public means.”


this article was first published by OneWorld UK