UK gives Moza budget boost
The grant, which is double what DFID has offered in the past, will cover the next five years, starting in 2007. Britain is one of 18 donors and funding agencies that give part of their aid to Mozambique in budget support. This money is not earmarked, and the Mozambican government can use the funds according to its own priorities, within the broad framework agreed with its cooperation partners, and resting on the government’s own poverty relief programme. The total DFID aid to Mozambique in 2006 is about US$100 million, of which 65 percent is budget support. By 2011, DFID’s budget support will be over US$90 million (at current pound/dollar exchange rates), and will be 75 percent of total British aid. Mozambique is the first African country to receive aid pledges from Britain five years in advance. Nemat Shafik, the general director of DFID Regional Programmes, said: “At the end of each year, we shall add the sum for another year ‘ so the Mozambican government will always know the amount of British aid it can rely on for the coming five years”. “This funding pledge from DFID shows the trust the United Kingdom has in the Mozambican government that it will be able to maintain, over the coming five years, the impressive progress already made in improving the lives of Mozambicans”, she said. “If more donors were to provide funds with this level of predictability, the Mozambican government would have sufficient confidence in medium term funding to be able to plan and budget for enough teachers, nurses and other staff to meet the targets in PARPA II” (the government’s second Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty). Shafik said the DFID grants “are not unconditional”. DFID expected to see “a strong impact on Mozambican living standards”. This, however, was simply an expectation that the government will honour promises already given to the budget support donors, during the joint review that concluded in mid-April. The framework agreed between the government and donors has some 50 targets ‘ covering, among others, such areas as financial management, public sector reform and the fight against corruption. The National Treasury Director in the Finance Ministry, Antonio Laice, told journalists that the DFID announcement was an “important decision”, in line with the government’s request for “medium term predictability” in aid disbursement. “DFID has taken the first step, and we hope that other partners will do likewise”, he said. Meanwhile, the Mozambican government takes agriculture as one its most important sectors of the economy. Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu said agriculture therefore deserved more attention and support, because of its role in the economy and in the fight against poverty in Africa. She noted that the development of African agriculture was facing serious constraints related to the use of inadequate technologies and to natural disasters, such as floods and drought. Abreu was speaking during the opening of a two-day meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum (APF) in Maputo. In Mozambique, about 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture, but is using rudimentary technologies and its success or failure remains strongly dependent on climatic factors. “In Africa, agriculture is the people’s main basis for subsistence and is the basic factor in the economy. When we speak of agriculture we must concentrate our attentions on the implementation of the Integrated Development of Agriculture, which is an effort of African governments, as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), to speed up development of African countries,” said Abreu. She stressed that food security remains a matter of great concern, and is intrinsically linked with absolute poverty. Involvement of the continent’s cooperation partners was thus essential to raise agricultural productivity and food security. Infrastructures are essential for the progress of Africa, hence the need for the continent’s foreign partners to continue investing in that area, added Abreu, urging greater investment in transport and communications. The forum, that brings together representatives of Africa and of the developed world, also discussed issues related to HIV/Aids. Mozambique’s former Prime Minister, Pascoal Mocumbi, urged the APF to assist in speeding up efforts “to fill the technology and management gaps” that hinder the fight against HIV/Aids. Mocumbi is currently the high representative of the Holland-based Europe-Developing Countries Clinical Tests Partnership (EDCTP). This is a research programme, bringing together African and European scientists, to develop new drugs and vaccines against HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis. Mocumbi called for “efforts to develop new products in the fight against HIV and adopt mechanisms to make them available for all people”. Currently only one in 10 of those people requiring the life prolonging anti-retroviral therapy are actually receiving it. “This situation”, Mocumbi said, “calls for co-ordination of different approaches to achieve universal access to prevention and care”. Developing effective new products could help reduce the disease burden, he pointed out. “An HIV vaccine and better vaginal microbicides and female condoms would prevent new infections, while more effective drugs would enhance life and longevity,” he said.