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Monday, May 21, 2007

G8 For Africa Now?

G8 finance ministers have warned against giving African countries cheap loans that they will struggle to repay.

But in statements issued at the end of a two-day meeting in Germany, the group stressed African countries must manage their own finances responsibly. Attendees included Britain`s next prime minister Gordon Brown and Robert Kimmitt, US Deputy Treasury Secretary.

The G8 countries include the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

Ministers said Africa would be a focal point of the wider G8 summit next month in Heiligendamm, on the Baltic sea coast.

They reinforced their commitment to deliver on aid commitments and called for responsible investment in the continent.

Last chance Germany singled out China, which relies on access to raw materials to feed its fast-growing economy, as one of the biggest risks to mineral-rich Africa.

"It is critical that both borrowers and creditors agree on approach to debt sustainability that prevents the re-emergence of debt distress," said Mr Kimmitt, standing in for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The world`s eight wealthiest countries have pledged to boost annual aid to $50bn (£25bn) a year by 2010, but critics say they are falling well short of this promise.

"Heiligendamm is the last chance for the G8 leaders to rescue their reputation," said Oliver Buston, European director of Debt Aids Trade Africa.

In other business, the group of ministers reaffirmed the need to be "vigilant" with regard to the potential risks associated with hedge funds, but as was widely expected, no code of conduct was released.

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