Recently there has been a lot of discussion as to whether Western Countries should cancel the debt owed by impoverished African nations. This has strong support from the Make Poverty History campaign, and the new series of 'Live 8' concerts announced by Bob Geldof last week.
While I of course agree that no one should live in poverty and that rich nations should do all they can to prevent the poverty people suffer. I do not believe that cancelling the debt is the best way to about doing this.
When Britain left many of these countries after the collapse of the British Empire during the last century these nations were left with stable economies, and no where near the level of poverty and suffering that we see now.
Africa is a minerally rich country, and has the resources to be a rich and sucessful continent - but what do we see instead? Millions suffering while the leaders and governments of these countries live a life of luxury - in Zimbabwe we see Robert Mugabe claiming land, once used for growing food, and living a rich life while his citizens suffer, in Swaziland, and Sudan we see the corrupt government's spending money on themselves while their people have nothing.
I think this is wrong.
Relieving the debt owed by these countries will not help the people on the streets, it will mean a higher disposable income for corrupt kings and presidents, and the people will still see nothing. The aid Africa needs shouldn't be given to governments, it should be given to charities that work on the ground with the people independant of the state.
I completely agree that trade should be made fair. It's wrong that economic sanctions should be in place that keep the people down, and I think our government could spend it's time better sorting this out.
Bob Geldof urged people last week to go to Edinburgh to protest at the G8, blaming capitalism fully for the problems Africa faces. I think this is misguided - Africa needs a long term policy of regime change, regimes that embrace capitalism, and globalisation rather than fight it.
It is corrupt governments and dictators that are to blame for the current level of African poverty, and relieving these corrupt governments and dictators of debt will in my opinion only make the situation for ordinary people worse.
The ones to blame for Africas problems are the World Bank, the IMF and our goverments. They expect developing countries to lower thier trade barriers and take advantage of free trade when it is the EU and the US who are not allowing free trade to happen. Cencelling debt may be a start but untill they decide to stop subsidies such as the CAP and US cotton subsidies, and allow African countries to trade the goods they have a comparative advantge in on an equitable basis.
The US controls the IMF and World Bank and they know when they are loaning to corrupted governments, but it doesnt stop them because in the long run they will make the developing countries pay the loans back.
And as for aid, it is a joke. 0.2% of GDP isnt enough George Bush....
Cancelling debt isn't going to solve Africa's problems. Firstly, it sets a pretty dangerous precident, encourages other countries to run up debt, and has a pretty bad effect on the liquidity of Western banks. Aside from that, it's not going to be sufficient to stimulate it's own economic growth. Free trade is a start, but that's not without it's flaws - protectionist policies have to be abolished worldwide, not just unilaterally. And even then, are Africa's economies competitive enough to survive on the world market? Probably not. They've got problems with human capital, lack of infrastucture, civil war and corruption, depending on which country you look at. Plus, they've only got the comparative advantage for primary products, which in itself can lead ot major problems.
Free Trade isn't fair trade.
We can't cancel African debt because of the effect it will have on western banks? Sick.
lets not forget the world banks encouragement of primary products, and now oversuppy who would have guessed it. anthenthose lovley saps.
as the africa report says more aid needs 2 b grants ad not more crippling debt
We shouldn't cancel the African Debt because it will only help support the corrupt leaders that keep people in poverty in the first place. We should instead give aid to charities that work with the people, not to those that will only help keep these governments in power.
What effect would cancelling african debt have on Western banks? Mosty of it was stolen by leaders [as they knew it would be when they lent it] and salted away in...western banks. Just confiscate the money left in the bank, write it off as a bad debt and learn from the experience. Given the record of banks lending to very dodgy punters, going back to the nineteenth century, and being surprised when their money vanishes, the last is the difficult thing to do.