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The Africa Commission Report: What about the politics?

David Booth*

Overseas Development Institute, 2005

SARPN acknowledges ODI as the source of this document -
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‘New ideas and actions for a strong and prosperous Africa’ – that is what Tony Blair’s Africa Commission was aiming at in its Report of March this year. Did it succeed? Truly fresh ideas were always going to be a tall order. But what the Commission could reasonably have expected to achieve is a synthesis of the best current thinking on how to turn around Africa’s development. Getting the G8 to act with new vigour on the range of known remedies for the continent’s chronic sicknesses is a sufficiently inspiring objective on its own.

By this standard, how does the Report measure up? The answer has to be ‘good but could have done better’. There are many excellent and some innovative things in it. There are also some quite significant blind spots and missed opportunities.


* Group Co-ordinator and Research Fellow, Poverty and Public Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JD, UK (

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