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Opinions of Friday, 24 July 2009

Columnist: Kurt Gerhardt

Bonner Aufruf

A group of German citizens from the Köln/Bonn area who are experienced in development aid for Africa formed a political initiative in September of last year. We are convinced that it would be irresponsible to continue with the aid practice that we have seen over the last half century. Our basic opinion is absolutely in line with what I read in “Weaning Ghana …”.

As a first step, we formulated a declaration, the “Bonner Aufruf” (“Bonn Appeal”) that you find under www.bonner-aufruf.eu (with an English version).

As every group endeavour, it is a compromise of differing opinions. Not all of us agree totally on everything we say, for instance on our assessment of African NGO’s. Some of us think that many of them have to be seen very critically. But we all do share the same basic direction of the Appeal, mainly that the “North” must stop to think that it can develop Africa. And that it is false to believe that more money means more development (as the G8 summit in 2005 in Gleneagles obviously assumed).

Of course, the Appeal drew harsh criticism from the “establishment”. A frequent argument was that apparently we didn’t know what we were talking about. Also to counter these attacks, we made people sign the Appeal who have a record in development aid for Africa. In “The undersigned”, you find the names of many former diplomats who have served in Africa, of development experts, politicians, journalists etc., some of them – not enough, yet –

Africans. They give special weight to our declaration and hardly allow critics to argue that we lack concrete knowledge.

We have succeeded in starting a necessary discussion about development aid, and we have given useful impulses. It is hard work, of course, but we will keep at it.

Kurt Gerhardt, Cologne/Germany
member of the "Bonner Aufruf" initiative

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