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Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:52 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of Keith Simpson Keith Simpson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 4:52 pm, 30th March 2009

Excellent. I am very pleased to hear that.

We also welcome the opportunity to discuss Africa in the run-up to the G20 summit later this week. The whole House will agree that the developing world must be engaged in efforts to reform the financial order and that African countries have a stake in the outcome of the summit. As the Foreign Secretary has emphasised, that is particularly true as the world's poorest countries are the most vulnerable to what is being called the third wave of the global crisis and as they have the fewest resources available to deal with the consequences of the downturn.

The World Bank and other organisations are warning of reduced tourism earnings in Africa, dwindling remittances from overseas workers, a tapering of foreign investment, falling export earnings and squeezed Government revenues owing to lower commodity prices. Action Aid has calculated that, by the end of this year, Africa will have suffered a real drop in income of some $50 billion since the beginning of the crisis.

Lower economic growth rates in Africa will have a significant impact on efforts to lift people out of poverty, condemning millions to remain living on less than a dollar a day and setting back efforts to reduce infant mortality and to meet the millennium development goals, particularly if donor countries struggle to meet their commitments to international aid programmes. The recent revelation by the Foreign Secretary that the UK has to scale back its peacekeeping commitments due to rising costs—a subject to which I will return—is a worrying development, and we expect the Government to keep the House fully informed on that matter. Across parts of Africa, the financial crisis will therefore become a human crisis, particularly in those countries that are still locked in conflict or teetering on the brink of conflict—in other words, the countries least able to weather the financial storm.

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