There are not many spaces left in the diaries of world leaders between now and the end of this month. Quite apart from the hectic rounds of diplomatic contacts required by the crises in the Indian sub–continent and the Middle East there are two major multilateral meetings scheduled. The first is the Seville summit meeting of the European Union which brings to an end Spain's business–like term of office in the presidency of the Union. The second, starting on June 26, is the annual G8 meeting of industrialised nations, being held in a remote rural retreat in Canada in the hope that its location will deter the kind of protests that marred the last gathering in Genoa a year ago. PP High on the agenda for the G8 meeting is “Nepad” – the New Partnership for Africa's Development on which South Africa's and Nigeria's Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo have been working for two years now. Nepad envisages a massive annual US$64 billion investment by G8 countries in African economic development to boost the continent's growth from 2.6 per cent to 7 per cent. In return the recipient nations would undertake to uphold global standards of democracy and good governance. Africa needs this kind of investment if it is ever to raise itself from the persistent failures of the post–colonial period.

However, cast–iron guarantees will also be needed on the reciprocal undertakings. It is regrettable that the principal author of the Nepad plan, Tabao Mbeki, was unwilling to use the economic clout at his disposal to bring Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe into line earlier this year when he was flouting every principle of democracy and good governance.

Ray Fleming

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