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What is the Commission for Africa?

In the spring of 2004 Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister, launched the Commission for Africa. He did so along with Chancellor Gordon Brown, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn and rock star turned Africa advocate Bob Geldof – whose persistent lobbying had inspired the Commission. Mr Blair said it would take a fresh look at Africa’s past and present in order to agree clear recommendations for the future. The intention was to provide new inspiration on promoting development in Africa just as the UK takes on a pivotal role in putting new ideas into practice.

The Commission is comprised of 17 Commissioners – including nine from Africa, all of whom are working in a personal capacity, not as representatives of individual states. The brief of the commission is to:

  • Generate new ideas and action for a strong and prosperous Africa, using the 2005 British presidencies of the G8 and the European Union as a platform:
  • Support the best of existing work on Africa, in particular the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Union, and help ensure this work achieves its goals.
  • Help deliver implementation of existing international commitments towards Africa.
  • Offer a fresh and positive perspective for Africa and its diverse culture in the 21st century, which challenges unfair perceptions and helps deliver changes.
  • Understand and help fulfil African aspirations for the future by listening to Africans.

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There are six principal thematic areas:

  1. The economy
  2. Natural resources
  3. Governance
  4. Peace and security
  5. Human development
  6. Culture and participation

Commissioners aim to set out practical proposals for action, which, with Africa leading the way, can accelerate and sustain African growth and development. As Hilary Benn put it, ‘We want to find solutions which are sufficiently radical to make a real difference to the people of Africa, but not so radical donors cannot politically deliver.’

The full story on the Africa Commisson.

Alastair Leithead of the BBC writes: " A lot has been said by western countries about helping Africa, but if the promises are kept the New Year could be a good one for the continent. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa is due to report in the next few months - just before Britain hosts the G8 leaders as head of the powerful group of nations. A lot has been said by Tony Blair and by the West, but now Africa is waiting for the rhetoric to be turned into action… read the rest of this feature.

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