Wednesday, June 2, 2010

France Hosts African Leaders

Climate Change at the Top of the Agenda

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted talks with 38 African leaders at a summit to renew France's ties on the continent. President Sarkozy stated that developing nations must make good on their promises of billions of dollars in aid to poorer countries at the Copenhagen summit unless they want international conferences to lose all credibility. At the Copenhagen summit in December, developed countries agreed to provide 30 billion dollars for three years to help poorer nations battle climate change. Part of the funds are earmarked for battling deforestation in the Congo basin, home to the world's second largest forest after the Amazon of Brazil.

But questions have been raised as to how much of that aid has been raised since Copenhagen. Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi, who chaired the debate on climate change in Nice, is sceptical about whether the financing would ever reach those in need. Zenawi has warned that the future of UN climate talks hinges on getting firmer commitments. At an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa in May, Zenawi also vowed that there will be no legally binding agreement on climate change unless there is a reliable and adequate accord on financing.

About 80 French business leaders including top bosses at oil giant Total and nuclear behemoth Areva took part in summit talks along with 150 heads of African companies. France has taken a back seat to China, Africa's biggest trade partner, which has injected billions over the past decade to tap into raw materials needed to fuel its economy.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), private sector investment in Africa gone from some 17 billion dollars in 2005 to 88 billion dollars in 2008.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and Nigeria's new leader Goodluck Jonathan attended the meeting. (, 6/1/2010)

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