[ALSO SEE: Compassionate Vultures ]


July 31, 1997

''More trade, less aid'' wrong route for Africa aid

By Charles Abbott

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - A leader of the nonprofit Africare Thursday urged the United States not to substitute trade for aid to Africa, despite the allure of private-sector investment as a catalyst for economic development.

Joseph Kennedy, Africare's director of international development, told a Senate hearing, ``This must not become a debate between trade and aid, between more trade and less aid. We have to operate on two tracks at the same time.''

Half of the region's 700 million people live in 14 countries, and countries with small populations or little to trade and few resources must not be overlooked, Kennedy said.

But the Clinton administration and lawmakers propose combining expanded market access with coordinated efforts to encourage business investment and development in the 48 countries of Subsaharan Africa.

Norman Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the ``Green Revolution,'' and Ernie Micek, chairman of Cargill Inc., the world's largest grains trader, said agriculture should be the foundation for African growth.

Sixty percent or more of Africans live on the land, often on small plots. ``We must make them more productive,'' Kennedy said.

Africare, a nonprofit group, works on water resource, food, rural health and refugee assistance in Africa.

Borlaug, who has worked on agricultural development in Africa for 11 years, said food shortages remained critical in sub-Saharan Africa because of low income levels.

Ugandan Ambassador Edith Ssempala said her country was pursuing economic liberalization that had resulted in an average growth of 8 percent in the gross domestic product during the past eight years while holding inflation in check.

South African Agriculture Minister Derek Hanekom said his nation had adopted policies that put ``new emphasis on harnessing market forces to promote economic growth'' to overcome high unemployment, widespread poverty and lack of public utilities.