The 2010 G8 Summit in Canada has just concluded, and for Africa, the returns have been the same as usual, not much tangible steps forward in assistance and co-operation developing the continent. The Gleneagles G8 pledge in 2005 that sought to double aid to Africa by 2010 is still way short, only $11bn of the promised $25bn will be met this year. It is understandable, the era of spendthrift, fuelled by global finance from 2000-2007 is over, however where the G8 countries will pay is with the true emergence of the BRIC’s (Brazil-Russia-India-China) that will look to fill the void left by the G8.
The London based Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, released a report in early June titled Our Common Strategic Interests: Africa’s Role in a Post G8 World. The report identifies the importance of Africa, up to 40% of the world resources key to growth, a billion strong population that are now becoming mass consumers, and the growing choice available to African governments in who they do business with.
Historically, the G8 has seen its relationship with Africa as humanitarian and soft aid programmes. Whilst this was unchallenged with the G8 possessing the bulk of expendable wealth, the recent emergence of the BRIC’s put the relationship with the G8 on a different map entirely. China has put their money where their mouth is, rolling out infrastructure projects on the continent en masse, providing the neccesities the G8 could have at fractional cost and at break neck speed. The rest of the world has realized that to fuel their own growth, they need to treat Africa as partners for a shared prosperity.
The major gripes in policy between the G8 and Africa lie on issues such as trade imbalances, the Common Agriculture Policy in the EU prevents African farmers access to European markets, or the US Cotton Subsidies that make African cotton exports uncompetitive. If the G8 cannot offer anything in return, then the BRIC’s will take full advantage and secure deals for themselves, and leaving the G8 crowded out in a very competitive global economy.