In 2005, following a massive global campaign, G8 leaders agreed an ambitious package of support to accelerate development in Africa. Eight years on, our analysis shows the galvanising effect of the Gleneagles commitments. African leadership, with G8 support, has resulted in major progress in the fight against extreme poverty. Increases in financing for development, through aid, debt relief and a huge rise in domestically generated resources, have had a direct impact on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.
Although not all commitments were met, the G8 made significant progress on most of the issues covered in the Gleneagles Africa Communiqué.
- Aid: As a whole the G7 (the G8 minus Russia as it does not report to the OECD) significantly increased aid to Africa by $11 billion annually, meeting 60% of their total commitments to Africa by 2010.
- Debt: The agreement to cancel 100% of outstanding debts of eligible Heavily Indebted Poor Countries to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank has resulted in 35 countries having a total of $35.5 billion forgiven.
- Health: The G8 countries have delivered significant additional support for health priorities since the Gleneagles commitments, including the creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), which has helped prevent 1.4 million deaths from yellow fever, polio and measles through funding for the GAVI Alliance. From 2006 to 2011, the G8 pledged $12.9 billion to the Global Fund helping them support 4.2 million people globally with antiretroviral treatment (ARVs), increase detection and treatment of new TB cases by 8.7 million, and distribute 310 million anti-malaria bed nets in 2012. Although universal access to ARV treatment was not achieved in 2010 as leaders hoped, by 2011 more than 8 million people were receiving life-saving treatment for HIV/ AIDS, 6.2 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 2005, sub-Saharan Africa has made remarkable headway, particularly concentrated in a group of high-performing countries.
- Twenty-one million more children are now enrolled in primary school across sub-Saharan Africa.
- New HIV infections have decreased by 37%.
- Child mortality has gone down by 18%.
- Annual GDP growth has averaged 5% across sub-Saharan Africa.
- The number of internet users has increased by 547% to 110 million.
Despite significant progress there were also disappointments. Talks on a global trade deal have completely stalled, G8 support to agriculture remains insufficient and the proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa suffering from hunger has barely decreased since Gleneagles.
In 2013 the G8 returns to the UK, presenting an opportunity to renew the partnership between the G8 and the world’s poorest countries. This year leaders should unleash a transparency revolution, so that citizens can hold their leaders to account, and strengthen their commitments on agriculture and nutrition.
Unleash a transparency revolution: There are five steps the G8 should take to deliver a package of targeted and mutually reinforcing transparency reforms. First, enhance transparency about resource inputs, including advancing a mandatory global standard on extractive industry payments, and agreeing faster progress on implementing the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Greater transparency about beneficial ownership, through the establishment of public registries, will also help to stem the loss of resources from developing countries through illicit financial flows. Second, encourage the opening up of budget processes so that citizens can see how their resources are being invested. Third, collect better and more timely data about what those investments are achieving by supporting the World Bank Service Delivery Indicators initiative. Fourth, build the capacity of oversight institutions and citizens’ groups to use information to hold governments to account. And fifth, make sure that data is made available in accordance with emerging standards for open data.
Invest in agriculture and nutrition: The G8’s past promises – including the pledge to work alongside African governments and the private sector to help lift 50 million people out of poverty through agriculture – must be kept. 2013 should also be the year to accelerate the quality of national nutrition plans and mobilise finances to turn the tide against chronic malnutrition. The UK’s Hunger Summit at the close of the Olympic Games in August 2012 resulted in new momentum to address chronic malnutrition, which should be maximised this year. As high-burden countries do their part and step forward with credible, costed and comprehensive nutrition plans, African governments and G8 donors should commit the financial and technical resources needed to implement them.