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Steyn on the poverty poseurs

Mark Steyn does his thing (use Bugmenot to get a password) in a wide-ranging essay on the various forms of foreign aid posturing. Some of the stories we've heard before, but there are a few new ones, like this progress report on Jean Chretien's great meaningless gesture at the 2002 G8 summit in Alberta:

A bunch of friendly dictators were flown over for photo-ops with the G8 bigshots, and the papers were full of cooing reports about the Canadian prime minister’s breakthrough Africa initiative. Well, the Calgary papers were. The Fleet Street papers were full of cooing reports about the British Prime Minister’s breakthrough Africa initiative. But the point is, whoever’s initiative it was, plenty of Western leaders were eager to take credit for it. Except for Bush, who, as with the tsunami, was roundly criticised for embarking on his own direct initiative with Africa.

Anyway, the 2002 initiative was called ‘NEPAD’, pronounced ‘kneepad’. And not having heard a thing about it in the three years since a Canadian G8 official triumphantly handed me the press release, I wondered how it was getting on. Well, there’s an official report on ‘NEPAD’s Achievements In The First Three Years’, but even on a close reading it’s kind of hard figuring out what’s actually happening:

‘On the development front, the African leaders launched comprehensive studies covering conflict resolution, political, economic and corporate governance, education, health, science ...Official Direct Assistance (ODA) reforms ...debt cancellation ...foreign direct investment....’

Gotcha. They launched ‘comprehensive studies’ of a lot of things. And why did they do that? ‘The primary objective was to develop a comprehensive development framework based on a thorough understanding of the most up-to-date information and trends in each area.’

Terrific. So they launched comprehensive studies to develop a comprehensive development study for holding meetings on developing more comprehensively a framework for studying the development of further meetings. So comprehensively did they do this that in 2004 the NEPAD secretariat overspent its seven-and-a-half million-dollar budget by more than two million dollars. Still, I’m sure the taxpayers of Finland, who chipped in half a million bucks to NEPAD’s ‘communications and conferences’ bill, ‘travelling costs’, ‘corporate services’ and other expenses, enjoyed the delicious frisson of ‘doing something for Africa’.

There's plenty more. Read the whole thing.


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Hey Bruce, just dropping by to return the favour! Good link, and a great site in general - can't think of many other places you'll find Mark Steyn alongside Hello Kitty :-) Anyway, you've now got pride of place at the top of our link bar (apart from Andrew Sullivan - blame the alphabet, not me) and as you can see we've also upgraded to a proper blogspot address. Drop by any time!

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