Germany has questioned a British proposal that the G8 nations double their development aid. Chancellor Schröder's Africa advisor said that a sudden increase in foreign aid to African countries would be counterproductive.
Can more aid help Africans to a better future?
Leaders at the upcoming G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland will also be discussing how to help Africa defeat poverty and embark on a journey of rapid growth. Britain is expected to put forward a plan envisaging the doubling of development aid to Africa to $25 billion (20.6 billion euros) in the near future.
But German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's advisor on Africa policy, Uschi Eid, said the plan does not come at the right time.
"Without strong institutions and professional capacities, a doubling of aid is not very useful," Eid said. "Of course, we want to double development assistance to Africa. But this must be done step by step to be able to make the reforms work and to make sure the necessary infrastructure is put in place."
Eid was speaking after a meeting with Wiseman Nkuhlu, the executive director of Africa's homegrown NEPAD initiative, in Berlin on Monday.
Fragile reforms in Africa
Founded in 2001, NEPAD aims to revitalize the continent's ailing economy by attracting private investors with progress in conflict resolution and improved transparency. The organization received full backing from the Group of Eight in 2002 and pledges from rich countries to support the initiative with billions of dollars in financial aid.
The lack of clean water is a major problem in developing countries
Eid said that enormous progress had been made in a number of countries under the NEPAD initiative. Germany's plan to double aid to Africa in the next 10 years, she said, was better suited to achieve the ambitious goals in health, education and poverty reduction. But Nkuhlu disagreed.
"I'm convinced that there's a large number of African countries that can absorb increased levels of development assistance," Nkuhlu said. He said it was critical that industrialized nations strongly aid those countries that are making progress.
"But the reforms in a number of countries in Africa are still very fragile because the majority of African countries are too poor to really deliver on promises to their people," he added.
Better access to markets
Nkuhlu said he hoped that the issue of increased assistance would be on the agenda in Gleneagles regardless of the resistance of some industrialized countries. He said it was now critically important that the G8 pledged further support for the reform process in Africa.
"The question of access to markets is also critical," Nkuhlu said. "Africa needs to increase production. That's a major issue in terms of progress."
Germany has supported NEPAD with 2.5 billion euros over the past three years. It is especially active in the field of conflict resolution, promoting good governance, water management and private sector investment.
The German government, however, wants to see greater progress in the field of political reforms and democracy. Eid praised NEPAD's peer review mechanism under which African countries assess each other's performance in these areas. She stressed, though, that recent delays in the publication of the first national reports regarding Ghana and Rwanda must be made up for quickly.