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Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Foreign Secretary 4:13 pm, 30th March 2009

No. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will find a way to get his point in. I trust that he has sufficient ingenuity to find a way to ask me a question about this issue later.

Our relationship with African countries is much broader than development assistance, but that assistance is important—not least the commitment to the target of 0.7 per cent. as a share of GDP, to which this and many other countries have committed, but which very few have reached. Beyond development assistance, we need to tackle the root causes of poverty and insecurity, some of which were raised earlier: poor governance, conflict, lack of access to trade and climate change. I would like to go through all four, with some specific examples.

The first issue is governance. People in Africa are demanding that their states be more accountable to their citizens. There have been 60 multi-party elections in the past five years. Those in Ghana in December and in Sierra Leone in 2007 demonstrate real commitment to democracy. Parliamentary elections in Angola last year were an important step forward in consolidating peace and strengthening democracy. The UK was the biggest bilateral donor to the ground-breaking election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006. However, there is more to democratic governance than elections. Functioning democracies rely on an active civil society, a vibrant media, improved social conditions and tackling corruption. That is why throughout Africa we are working to build the institutions that can support democracy—not only in the DRC, but in places such as Malawi.

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