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Viscount Waverley: My Lords, I agree with the thinking of the noble Lord, Lord Lea, that regionalism—by which I mean shared responsibilities; shared resources—is in great part the answer.

Together with Chief Anyaoku, recent Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and with the patronage of the Ooni of Ife, the Emir of Kano and the Igwe of Achalla, I jointly chair a consultative process whose primary objective is to recapture and sustain the traditional links between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, drawing together through the private sector and civil society.

We identified 19 different sectors—ranging from civil society, education, health and environment to financial services, small to medium-sized enterprises, security and defence to agriculture—that are deemed to make up the bilateral relationship. Two substantive and complete documents authored by professionals covering a wide spectrum have been produced including identifying a range of implementable projects. Far-ranging activities have been undertaken to increase the capacity of civil society in its activities to support the democratic process, respect for human rights, eradication of poverty and good commercial and political practices, mindful of the role which good relations between faith communities in both countries can play to assist.

In the education sector, a detailed symposium on education illustrated the parlous state of the sector and identified where the United Kingdom can assist in "education for all" initiatives. Time does not allow me to list the three distinct strategic ways forward that have been identified—although, if requested, they can of course be provided to the Government. Future focus will be to motivate the SMEs of both countries to work in partnership, each bringing a mixture of local knowledge and expertise to the table; and, secondly, the agricultural sector.

In addition, our process has been, in discussion, to control theft and loss from security breakdown in the delta oil-producing region, which represents a loss to the economy of 3 billion US dollars a year. President Obasanjo has said that a long-term solution must be found. The UK is uniquely positioned to advise and assist in the exclusive economic zone command and control management. Will the Lord President urgently review government guidelines in the context of the benefits to British industry and of assisting an ally?

The letting of federal contracts for expediency without budgets being in place often presents nightmare commercial scenarios—a barrier to investors. Competition in the construction industry is also urgently required as main contractors have hitherto been charging up to double a fair price for essential infrastructure projects.

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Although I have belaboured the endeavours of our process—and in so doing publicly thank all those people who have contributed—advances are being made and although we attempt not to supersede but to complement other effective initiatives, the Nigeria-British consultative process is able to offer guidelines for NePAD and for the future evaluation of bilateral relations.

In conclusion, the era of good intentions must now end. The doing is all. NePAD spearheads the drive for a resurgent Africa, but it is with the private sector, through equitable generation of trade and creating the conditions for such, that real solutions lie.

8.28 p.m.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Lea, for raising this important issue, especially when so many eyes are on Iraq. On Monday, we discussed the breakdown of the World Trade Organisation talks in Cancun. That breakdown was bad news for the poorest countries. African countries, in particular, need trade protection and for their industries not to be decimated by cheap, subsidised imports. It is through economic growth and trade, rather than aid, that real progress is likely to come. Those talks must therefore get back on track, focussing on development and the relief of poverty.

Under the Millennium Development Goals, the aim is to reduce by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. What stands in the way of that in Africa? First, as we have heard, there is conflict, not only destroying lives and prosperity in one country, but affecting neighbouring countries. We have heard about the Democratic Republic of Congo and its key moment from my noble friend Lord Phillips. In Zimbabwe, it has been estimated that it will take seven years to put right each year of economic catastrophe. What action is being taken to address those conflicts? What is being done to check the sale of small arms across the continent?

Then there is the crisis of HIV/AIDS in Africa, to which noble Lords have referred. In some southern African areas, HIV/AIDS affects over one third of the population, largely those who should have been in their most economically productive years. In Zambia, 11 per cent of children are AIDS orphans. The effects of the epidemic will be seen for decades to come. Can the Minister tell us how far the agreement to provide drugs in the poorest countries really will assist, or whether the agreements are so ringed around that few will benefit?

Education has been undermined by the AIDS epidemic. Teachers have died, and pupils are kept from school to care for relatives, yet education is the key to the future of the continent. Does the noble Baroness agree that reductions in debt should be targeted to enable countries to spend more on education and training? The noble Lord, Lord Lea, stressed the importance of NePAD. How optimistic is the noble Baroness about the role that NePAD might play in promoting democracy, human rights and economic progress?

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It is bizarre to try to cover a continent in three minutes. But it is a reflection of the interest in the House of Lords that we are subject to such a guillotine. That there is such a level of interest is surely very encouraging.

8.31 p.m.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lea, on sponsoring this important debate. It is not surprising that it has attracted speakers from all corners of the House with widespread experience of Africa. In congratulating the noble Baroness the Lord President of the Council on her appointment, I also agree with the welcome expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Lea, that the noble Baroness will continue to speak on international development matters in the House.

The combination of debt relief and encouraging free trade can act as a catalyst to securing economic regeneration throughout Africa. Free trade is vital and should be at the very core of development strategy. Yet, recently, Vijay Makhan, the African Union's Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Economic Affairs, said:


    "African countries should consider quitting the WTO if it does not deliver".

What discussions have the Government had with African leaders, and what are they doing to persuade African nations to remain in the WTO?

The World Bank estimates that eliminating all barriers to trade would generate 250 to 520 billion dollars extra in global income. With almost 50 per cent of that income going to developing countries, that could lift more than 144 million people out of poverty by 2015. Noble Lords on these Benches have always stressed that point. We must be prepared to be bold and to make the first move in restoring the political impetus into those critical issues relating to multilateral trade.

Those issues are played out alongside the continuing scourge of HIV/AIDS, which many noble Lords have mentioned. HIV/AIDS is not merely a health issue; it is also a development issue. In sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, entire workforces are being eliminated. The situation is compounded by the fact that poor countries are losing workers to developed nations. There are an estimated 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone. By 2010, the total number is expected to be 25 million. What are the Government doing to help African AIDS orphans?

In Kenya, it is estimated that a person dies every minute from AIDS. Noble Lords are well aware of the cultural factors contributing to the crisis and the lack of education regarding the spread of HIV/AIDS. In Uganda, through a system of education and health programmes, the tide has started to turn and new infections are in decline. What discussions are the Government having with African leaders about education and treatment for those affected?

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It really is time to get beyond rhetoric. What counts now for the people of Africa are the actions of countries such as the United Kingdom. We urge the Government seriously to push forward with their development work in Africa and to deliver on the promises made by the Chancellor three years ago.

Baroness Amos: I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall for introducing this important debate. It will stretch all my skills because I have eight minutes to respond to the points that have been made, so I will write to noble Lords if I am not able to respond to specific points.

I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark that some African countries will fail to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. That is true, and it will delay development in Africa for millions of people. Africa's problems are complex and inter-connected. We need to work jointly within the G8, the EU, the UN, the African Union and African governments themselves to address the range of issues on which concerted progress is needed. There are four underlying problems.

First, as the noble Baroness, Lady Northover mentioned, is conflict in key countries and regions, which overrides any attempts to prioritise human development objectives. We must support African efforts to resolve armed conflicts. We have been instrumental in supporting the resolution of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, gave a graphic description of what is happening there. We have agreed an initial programme, but I am concerned that, because there is a transitional government, other donors will walk away. We have to prevent that.

We have also helped in Sudan, Burundi, Angola and west Africa. Some of those countries are on the road to peace and need the assurance of long-term support. We need to provide assistance so that African countries and regional and sub-regional organisations are able to engage more effectively to prevent and resolve conflicts.

The noble Baroness, Lady Northover mentioned the elimination of illegal weapons. We have pledged more than 20 million to combat the global proliferation of small arms. The noble Lord, Lord Freeman, mentioned Sierra Leone in particular. I can say that we will continue our commitment to and engagement with Sierra Leone. We have pledged 120 million over the next three years. We agreed a 10-year memorandum in November last year. There are a number of priorities, but tackling corruption and strengthening democratic institutions were areas raised by the noble Lord in his speech.

Governance remains a fundamental issue for Africa's development. My noble friend Lord Lea raised the issue of corruption. The noble Lord, Lord Freeman, raised the issue in relation to Sierra Leone and my noble friend also talked about governance. Effective institutions, representative democracy and accountable government are essential conditions for private sector investment, growth and

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poverty reduction in Africa. We support the strengthening of capacity-building programmes that focus on economic and corporate governance, such as the African Capacity Building Foundation. We are working on anti-corruption in Malawi, Uganda and Nigeria and are also working in Zambia and Mozambique.

My noble friend Lady Whitaker talked about the extractive industry transparency initiative. We are encouraging countries dependent on oil, gas and mining to pilot this new approach, companies to make their payments to governments clear, and governments to publish what they receive so that their citizens can hold them accountable. We are examining the George Soros proposals mentioned by my noble friend with respect to the World Bank and the IMF.

My noble friends Lord Lea and Lord Judd, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich and the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, all talked about trade, as did other noble Lords. There is no doubt that the terms of trade have deteriorated and commodity prices have declined. The result has been low investment and economic growth, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. That means that insufficient jobs and incomes are being created for the poor and too few resources are generated for health and education—key areas for development. Progress on trade policy issues will be essential for Africa to become competitive, but most countries lack capacity for trade policy analysis, negotiation and implementation and for ensuring that trade reform leads to poverty reduction.

We should be in no doubt that the current system does not work for the least developed countries. Africa's share of world trade halved between 1980 and 1999, so I am truly disappointed at the failure of the WTO talks in Cancun. It is most damaging to the world's poorest countries. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, that we are in constant discussions with our African partners on the issue. I met many of them at Cancun. We feel that Africa stands to get a better deal through multilateral negotiations in the WTO, in which developing countries make up two thirds of the membership, rather than in a multitude of regional and bilateral agreements with bigger economic players.

We are committed to securing progress in the negotiations most crucial to African countries: agricultural market access; reduction in trade-distorting subsidies; and specific and differential treatment provisions for poorer countries, which were a particular concern of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich.

My noble friends Lord Lea of Crondall and Lord Judd and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark raised the subject of economic growth. Increased aid is important, and we are committed to trying to double the amount spent on aid through the international finance facility under the leadership of my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are committed to putting 0.4 per cent of our gross national income into development by

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2005–06 and to providing 1 billion for Africa by the same date. That commitment remains, despite the commitments that we have made on Iraq.

Economic growth is essential to poverty reduction and development in Africa. We continue to argue that the interests of developing countries must be taken into account in international economic and trade discussions. We want to promote the responsible private investment and business activity that are the key to economic growth.

The right reverend Prelate, the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and other noble Lords raised the issue of HIV/AIDS, and the noble Lord, Lord Chan, spoke about health and child mortality. We have made a significant contribution in those areas. The noble Lord, Lord Chan, asked specifically about capacity building. I will write to the noble Lord with details of what we are doing.

My noble friend Lord Judd raised the issue of the food shortage in southern Africa. We continue our humanitarian support. There is a shortage in the World Food Programme appeal, and we have just agreed a further 5 million for Zimbabwe.

With regard to HIV/AIDS, we are the second-largest donors. We invested over 270 million in programmes world-wide in 2002–03.

We remain committed to the implementation of HIPC. I assure noble Lords who raised the question that we are pressing for improvements to the initiative to help to strengthen debt sustainability.

I am running out of time. We continue to support NePAD and African efforts to develop the continent. We see the peer review mechanism as an important tool for African leaders for learning lessons. The noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, referred to Zimbabwe. That situation must be resolved, but we do not see Zimbabwe as a test case for peer review.

I must answer two specific questions from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, on sustainable development. Our policy is to integrate environmental issues into broader support for government financial and planning systems in developing countries. The noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, spoke about Nigeria. We agree that progress in Nigeria is key to development in Africa. We work closely with the Government, particularly the new economic team. We have just reviewed our overall strategy, and we support the Education for All initiative.

We will continue our efforts to work closely and collaboratively within the international system. I hope that, when the UK takes over the presidency of the G8 in 2005, we will be in a position to report considerable progress.

8.44 p.m.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that comprehensive update, albeit in a very short space of time. I thank all noble Lords for their well informed contributions.

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