In order to reach this Gleneagles commitment, France would need to increase ODA to sub-Saharan Africa from €2.234 billion ($3.111 billion) in 2004 to €5.939 billion ($8.271 billion) in 2010. As a percentage of GNI, this is the largest commitment amongst the G7 (0.3%), and the second highest in volume terms (after the US).
Statement from head of state
‘Europe will meet the 0.7% target in 2015. This is a major political choice, it’s a unanimous political choice and I ask the countries here today which aren’t from the European continent to understand that, given our social, economic, financial and political difficulties, this choice is a fundamental one.’
PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY NOVEMBER 2008, SPEAKING AT THE DOHA FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE AS PRESIDENT OF THE EU
France’s development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa grew substantially in 2009 with an increase of €853 million ($1.19 billion). This was a welcome change after last year’s decrease, and greater than what was projected in the French budget. It was not enough, however, to put France on track to deliver its Gleneagles commitments. French budget documents indicate that 2010 ODA will be lower than what was reported to the DAC for 2009. Based on these figures, ONE estimates that France’s ODA to sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 will fall by €448 million ($624 million), meaning that it will meet 25% of the increases it promised at Gleneagles. This projection is based on the most recent budget data available. France's ODA in 2010 may ultimately be higher than projected if IMF contributions remain high and if France continues to channel its ODA through loans rather than grants.
France must be commended for its ambitious Gleneagles commitment, which was the largest of the G7 as a proportion of GNI and the second largest in volume, and which focused a higher proportion of resources on sub-Saharan Africa than the rest of the EU. Although France’s commitments will extend beyond 2010, with a goal of reaching 0.7% ODA/GNI in 2015, it has no budget increases planned until at least 2012.
France remains one of the core donors to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In addition, its increase in health commitments to sub-Saharan Africa in 2008 was driven largely by increased investment in health systems. Support for primary education has grown consistently since 2005, and assistance for sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 59% of global primary education commitments in 2008. However, France is not on track to meet its commitments to cancel debt to the world’s poorest countries (and may even be exacerbating debt portfolios by focusing assistance on loans rather than grants), and like the rest of the G8 is failing to deliver on its commitment to 'make trade work for Africa'.
France is a country with deep links to the African continent and 2010, the 50th anniversary of the independence of most former African colonies from France, is a potent year for the country to take dynamic action to bolster its credibility on the continent. The France–Africa summit from 31 May to 1 June, is a key moment for such action to be taken.
With current ODA levels at 0.43% of GNI (0.46% when including bilateral debt relief), it would not seem impossible for France to meet its European commitment of 0.51% in global ODA by 2010. But current budget plans suggest that both global ODA and ODA to Africa will fall this year. Emergency efforts are required to reverse this. Establishing a clear timetable for meeting France’s ODA commitment to Africa would be a fitting way to mark this historic year.
The France–Africa summit is also an important moment to reflect on the quality of France’s relationship with Africa in broader policy terms. France should take this opportunity to adopt a clear plan to ensure that all its policies towards Africa are focused on the single clear goal of poverty reduction.
Looking further ahead, in 2011 France, as chair of the G8 and G20, has a critical role to play. President Sarkozy should make clear as soon as possible that he will make the achievement of the MDGs, especially in Africa, a central theme of these summits.
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