Live 8, One Year Later: G8 Promises Are Falling Short Of Goals, Report Says

Progress report indicates faster pace needed to speed Africa's development, save lives.

A year after the historic Live 8 global concerts, one of the organizations behind the massive events has issued a report card on the Group of 8's promises to Africa on aid and debt relief.

The results? If the G8 were high school seniors, they might be in for some summer school.

"Live 8 was and remains a brilliant moment, but what is more important is the brilliant movement of which it was a part," said U2's Bono, co-founder of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) and, which issued the report.

"This gives the poorest of the poor real political muscle for the first time. ... It is this movement of church people and trade unions, soccer moms and student activists, that will carry the spirit of Live 8 on," Bono said of the concerts, which featured everyone from Coldplay, Madonna and Will Smith to Green Day, Velvet Revolver and Sir Paul McCartney (see "Jay-Z, U2, Madonna, Pink Floyd Deliver Live 8 Highlights").

Despite ambitious pledges by the G8 — the international assembly of world leaders who announced plans to accelerate economic development in Africa at the Gleneagles summit five days after Live 8 — the report says the rate of change is "painfully slow." The goals for Africa by 2010 include providing access to life-saving treatments to 4 million Africans with HIV/ AIDS, saving 600,000 children from malaria each year and allowing 30 million children to attend school.

According to DATA, the U.S. has increased its development-assistance pledges but is increasingly off-track in meeting them and, in general, the G8 is moving slowly in the effort to meet its promises.

The DATA Report, which will be issued annually from now on, found that the G8 "strode forward down the promised path on debt, but have shuffled at half-pace on aid, and fell backwards on trade," according to Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA. "The campaigners around the world who got the G8 close to the right path in the first place must now encourage them to accelerate down it. After a slow start in 2005 a faster pace is now needed, or the G8 Africa targets will be missed."

The G8 had agreed to cancel 100 percent of the debts owed to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank by some of the poorest, most indebted countries. That pledge has been met for 19 countries; 44 are eligible under World Bank and International Monetary Fund programs.

Among the report's findings:

  • The U.S. increased development assistance to Africa by $480 million in 2005, but that was far below the pace needed to reach the promise of doubling assistance to Africa pledged by President Bush. The U.S. would need to increase development assistance to Africa by $720 million this year in order to meet its Gleneagles promise.

  • On establishing a world-trade deal beneficial to African development, the report found the G8 actually losing ground. A recent round of development negotiations is on the verge of collapse and no new proposals appear on the horizon.

  • On development assistance, DATA's numbers suggest that the G8 spent an extra $1.6 billion on Africa in 2005, but in order to stay on a schedule that will allow the countries to meet their 2010 commitments, they must collectively increase development assistance to Africa by $3.9 billion this year and each year after. So far, France is the only G8 country that looks likely to meet its 2010 development-assistance goals. The U.S., U.K. and Italy increased aid to Africa in 2005, but Germany maintained its former level of contribution and Canada decreased aid in 2005.

  • There was good news on the fight against HIV/ AIDS in Africa, with 810,000 Africans receiving HIV/ AIDS treatment in 2005, up from 100,000 in 2003.

  • There was also good news on debt cancellation, with the G8 on track to meet its commitments. In the 19 nations where debt relief has been enacted, the impact is already being felt: In Zambia, user fees have been abolished for basic healthcare and thousands more doctors, nurses and teachers are getting paid using these freed-up funds. In Tanzania, newly free resources are being used to import free or heavily subsidized food for the nation's 3.7 million people at risk of hunger due to drought.