Thursday, June 07, 2007

G8 Summit and TED Global Updates II: G8 meets the J8, African voices at the G8 Summit, TED Global Africa closes with success

Dateline Berlin 06/07/07 – Outside the Bunker and on the streets
Updates on the close of the TED Global Conference in Tanzania; G8 world leaders meet J8 world leaders in Heiligendamm; South African journalist asks who is listening to the voice of African women at the G8 Summit

This is just a quick Heads Up post to keep my readers informed on what’s hot and what’s not at the G8 Summit in Germany today. First the good news:

G8 leaders meets J8 youth leaders in a roundtable discussion at Heiligendamm. No violence reported (yet).

Germany’s ZDF TV network televised a 1-hour roundtable discussion between all of the G8 world leaders and 9 members of the J8 Summit youth leaders. It’s about the best live TV news coverage you will see come out of the Circus Maximus 2007 where the world leaders go one-on-one with some of the finest young minds on the planet. All G8 countries were represented by a young person selected by members of the J8 (Junior 8) Summit in Wismar, Germany. A 17-year old young man from Tanzania represented his country and the continent of Africa and was paired with the European Commission boss from Portugal (what’s his name? José Manuel Barroso). Links to all of the related online websites and a 59 minute video available for free viewing at the ZDF website are listed at the end of this post.

Nobody’s listening to African women’s voices at the anti-G8 Summit in Germany

South African journalist Zihnle Mapumulo, a member of the AfricaVox 2007 news team that I wrote about in my previous post, is complaining that nobody is seriously listening to Africa’s concerns at the G8 Summit. However, this may change because it’s still early in the Circus Maximus and some world leaders and anti-G8 demonstrators may start to pay attention. Patricia Daniel writes in a post for the OpenDemocracy blog project Womens Open Summit - Women talk to the G8:

There is a team of award-winning African journalists here covering the G8 summit and the alternative summit, in collaboration with the Panos Institute, on their blog AfricaVox 2007 .The aim is to see whether the G8 are really listening to African voices, as the official press service claims Germany is doing.

I spoke to Zinhle Mapumulo, a reporter with the Sowetan in South Africa, who covers health issues and has a weekly women’s page. Zinhle was inspired to go into the media by the one black woman television presenter working during apartheid, Noxolo Grootboom. After finally opting for print journalism, she has previously covered youth issues, lifestyle and women in enterprise as well as spending two years in her native province of Kwazulu Natal as bureau chief for Sowetan news. So, what’s her particular motivation in covering the G8 this year?

“Firstly I wanted the opportunity to experience the whole sandwich – the demos, the debates – and to ask all the questions we don’t get to ask back in South Africa. Then, as a woman, I feel there’s never any in-depth coverage of women: I want to know how do the G8 contributions, how do their pledges benefit me and my 2 year-old daughter – and other African women and their children - how is this process going to help us?”

Zinhle went out on the demo at the airport when Bush arrived Tuesday evening. “I wanted to see the action. We don’t get to see this kind of confrontation now in South Africa – the violence, the police. I wanted to talk to the demonstrators.” But she came away with some concerns. “They say they want attention from the world about Africa’s problems. But when I asked them, they don’t know anything about Africa. I felt it wasn’t genuine, they’re doing it for the hype, just to be a rebel.” She told one of them: “Your struggle is not about us, it’s about you. You should be feeling some kind of spiritual connection with us.” (Read more at AfricanVox 2007 blog)

TED GLOBAL 2007 - Africa: The Next Chapter closes with success (and tears)

My friend and blogging mentor Ethan Zuckerman (EZ) of the Global Voices project mentioned in several of my earlier posts sums up the feeling of many of our fellow blogger colleagues who have had the privilege of attending the TED Global 2007 conference in Arusha, Tanzania. This is an event that was eagerly awaited and followed by the international blogger community that writes about and follows news and issues on Africa. The conference was attended by Bono and other world figures and was carefully monitored by Gemany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel as well (I think?). You see, TED Global 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania and the G8 Summit in Germany are tightly linked and are (presumably) very supportive of one another. Ethan writes in his blog on the closing day of this excellent meeting of minds:

Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the sort of visionary African leader everyone on stage and in the crowd would wish for Africa. She’s challenged with summing up four days of discussions on “Africa, the next chapter”.

She tells us we’re seeing changes in Africa that we never thought would happen. We’ve seen annual growth of 5%, in some cases 6-7%, up from 2%. External debt has been massively reduced. Countries are building up foreign exchange reserves, shoring up their currencies. Private investment flows are increasing, remittances to Nigeria are skyrocketing, and there’s a net inflow of capital.

But Africa needs jobs. 62% of Africa’s population is under 24. We have to figure out how to make these people productive. Nigeria is now building an opinion research organization, a way of listening to citizen voices, which she notes is a rare thing on the continent. The top issue in every survey? Jobs…

Just a few years ago, she tells us, we couldn’t even talk about “the next chapter” for Africa. There was negative economic growth. There’s been an amazing transformation, and this is something that’s allowed us to have our debate about aid versus the private sector. “It has been a simplistic debate.” It needs to be about “a partnership that involves governments, donors, private sector, and ordinary Africans.” It’s not trade or aid - “what is the combination of all these factors is going to yield results?”

African entrepeneur Mo Ibrahim dreams of the moment when Africa is giving aid. “But we’re already doing it - the UK and the US could not have been built without African aid. The resources - including human resources - have made those countries what they are today.” So when those countries are willing to give something back, we need to take it, but we need to use it effectively.

Okonjo-Iweala tells a story about growing up during the Nigeria-Biafra war. Her father was a brigadeer on the Biafran side, and her family was doing very badly, eating a single meal a day. When she was 15, her mother was ill, and her three-year old sister was deathly ill from malaria. She put her sister on her back and walked 10 kilometers to a clinic, where she’d heard there was a good doctor. When she arrived, there were a thousand people outside, trying to break down the door. She went to the side and climbed in through the window. The doctor told her she’d barely saved her sister - she gave the girl a shot of chloroquine, put her onto rehydration and within hours, she was back to health. “The ten kilometers home with her on my back, that was the shortest walk of my life.” The point of the story: “When someone is saving a life, you don’t care that it’s aid - you want the person to be alive.”
(Read more at Ethan’s blog on Madam Okonjo-Iweala’s powerful address at TED.)

That’s it for today folks. The weather has finally improved considerably here in northern Germany and my Staropramen pilsner is getting a bit too warm down at the local pub. I gotta go because I’m really thirsty. Auf Wiedersehen, bis Übermorgen. Ciao Bella...Mama mia!

Related articles and online resources

ZDF TV – Heute (daily news program) G8 Spezial
G8 in Minutentakt - G8 trifft J8 (multimedia plus 59:00 min streaming video)
J8 Gipfel in Wismar: “Wir wollen gehört werden” (ZDF feature article)
J8 Youth Summit in Wismar, Germany -Official J8 Summit website

G8 Summit 2007 at Heiligendamm official website (lots of stuff here boy)

OpenDemocracy blog – Women’s Open Summit - Women talk to the G8
Who is really listening to African women’s voices? by Patricia Daniel

AfricaVox 2007 – African voices at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm
AfricaVox 2007: “We need the G8’s help in the fight against poverty and HIV”
Articles by South African journalist Zihnle Mapumulo

TED Global 2007 Conference in Arusha, Tanzania – TED Blog
TED Global bloggers look back at worldchanging days, 06/07/07
TED Global in Africa: Day 4, reports from the bloggers, 06/07/07
TED Global 2007 aggreagated articles from bloggers-in-residence

Ethan Zuckerman (Global Voices Online – Harvard)
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala with the last word on aid, 06/07/07

P.S. And what about the Bad News? There is no “Bad News” to report today. Think positive. Ciao y’all.

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