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Charities lay into G20 plans for investing in Africa

14 July 2017


Mobilised: residents Jenny and Mirco Trapp join a cleaning-up effort after riots during the G20 summit, in the Schanzenviertel district of Hamburg, on Sunday. A woman from Hamburg incentivised several thousand people via Facebook, in order to restore the Schanzenviertel district and other vandalised areas of the city

Mobilised: residents Jenny and Mirco Trapp join a cleaning-up effort after riots during the G20 summit, in the Schanzenviertel district of Hamburg, on...

CHARITIES are wary about the G20’s plans for Africa, which focus on increasing private investment in the continent.

The Prime Minister used the summit to set out proposals to build a “modern partnership with Africa”, including a commitment to spend millions of pounds on insurance provided by British companies, to help cover the costs of natural disasters. The UK is promising a £60-million investment to “help Africa integrate into global financial markets” with a view to creating “more opportunities for London to become the finance hub for Africa”.

Downing Street said that the proposals would “reduce the continent’s reliance upon aid” and help tackle “destabilising migratory patterns”, extremism, and criminality.

In an article for The Sunday Telegraph, the development secretary, Priti Patel, wrote: “We need to make globalisation work better for Africa by buying African products and laying the foundations for strong future trading partnerships.”

Christian Aid’s international climate lead, Mohamed Adow, described the plan as “badly flawed” because it made no mention of climate change, which, he suggested, was indicative of “pandering to the USA”.

“Today’s announcement from the UK may look like a generous offer, but unless it helps develop clean jobs that the poorest can access, it will not truly help Africa,” he said. “All future jobs and infrastructure need to be adapted to climate change — this should have been at the heart of the UK’s announcement.”

The head of Global Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam GB, Max Lawson, told The Guardian that stimulating growth could help tackle poverty. “But it is important to recognise that growing economies will not automatically provide people with enough food to eat or life-saving medicines — especially as Africa is home to some of the most unequal countries on Earth.”

Mrs May’s announcement came against the backdrop of the launch of the G20 Africa Partnership, which seeks to “support private investment, sustainable infrastructure, and employment in African countries”. Participating countries are invited to develop their own plans to reduce the risk for private investors.

The director of the social justice group Global Justice Now, Nick Dearden, described it “more like a ‘partnership to exploit Africa’ — foisting the demands of international finance onto African countries in return for a bit of aid. Worst of all is the idea that markets and big business will decrease hunger. We already have enough food in the world to feed everyone. The very problem is big agribusiness, deregulated finance, and a market which prices people out of their basic needs. . . Only a mass movement for democracy and justice can solve the problems we face.”

The final statement from the G20 leaders notes the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement, but says that the remaining 19 leaders “reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris Agreement” and regard it as “irreversible”. The US “will endeavor to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently, and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally determined contributions”. A climate change summit will be held in Paris in December.

The meeting took place amid protests, with thousands of campaigners on the streets and 20,000 police deployed. The Johanniskirche in the Altona-Ost district of Hamburg allowed protesters to put up tents on church grounds. “Our church community agrees that Hamburg is not only inviting heads of state to the G20 summit,” Pastor Vanessa von der Lieth told Der Spiegel.

A church alliance for the summit, “global.gerecht.gestalten” (“shaping globalisation fairly”; or “global — fair — redesign”) was established to pray during the meeting, and participate in peaceful activities. On Saturday, Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee, preached at an ecumenical service at the Lutheran church of St Katharinen, in Hamburg. The liturgy included a series of lamentations about the refugee crisis, debt, and violence, and intercessions for the leaders, for “wisdom and strength”.

Violence wounded, but our peaceful protests gathered thousands

The Anglican Chaplain of Hamburg, Canon Leslie Nathaniel, reflects on the G20 

“We in Hamburg have come through the G20 summit wounded and sobered, but also determined to get on with business as usual. The city of Hamburg, referred to as ‘The doorway to the world’, prides itself on its flair and openness. Over 4000 Brits live in Hamburg and the presence of the English Church in Hamburg goes back over 400 years.

“In the light of this background of being an open, inclusive city, the violence that was experienced has hurt the spirit of many Hamburg citizens. Even our Anglican Church of St Thomas Becket’s small token for peace — a choral evensong — had to be cancelled at the last minute, as there was no way people could have made their way here due to the traffic blocks and violent scenes around us. It was also at the last minute that police diverted a potentially violent group from the so-called “Black Block” from marching past us. Extremist groups were even prepared to cause grave physical harm to the population in the area and the police attempting to protect life and property.  

“Unfortunately much of the reporting has concentrated on the violence in Hamburg, ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority of protesters were peaceful. The Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, the Rt Revd Kirsten Fehrs, and churches across Hamburg have been united in praying for a peaceful G20 Summit, rejecting violence and taking a stand for peace and justice in the world. Bishop Fehrs publicly made the point that the protest “Hamburg zeigt Haltung” (“Hamburg shows attitude”), organised by the churches, was not against the meeting of the G20, since it is important for the leaders of these nations to meet and have conversations with one another. The biggest problem about this meeting, according to the Bishop, was the undemocratic stance of certain leaders of countries attending the summit. Some of them have imprisoned opposition leaders, limited the freedom of religion and the freedom of the press.

“The RC Archbishop of Hamburg, the Most Revd Stefan Heβe, together with many other personalities from church and society joined this broad coalition and more than 10,000 people demonstrated peacefully. The ecumenical service at St Katharinen was another barely reported success story, not only in terms of the number of people present, but also due to its message: “God says: ‘I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.’” The Anglican Church of St Thomas Becket participated in the planning and the putting together of material for churches to engage in a journey of peace, justice and hope.”



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