Whatever happens today, Live8 is already a success

Share
Related Topics

Indeed, it may be the closest anyone has yet come to staging a truly global event. It is to Bob Geldof's immense credit that he has applied all his inimitable drive and vision to seeing this project through. He has, almost single-handedly, put Africa on the rich world's map and done his utmost to keep it there. That Africa will be one of two priorities - along with climate change - at this year's G8 summit at Gleneagles is tribute to Geldof's commitment and sometimes infuriating persistence.

Criticisms can be made. Twenty years on, there is somehow more dissonance between the coterie of wealthy rock stars devoting time to this event and the world's poorest in whose cause they are performing. The absence of African stars on the main stages also represents a grievously missed opportunity. The organisers' fears that viewers would switch off is patronising, Eurocentric and ill-founded. It could have helped promote artists who are effecting change in Africa, through their music, their politics and their benevolence.

One welcome - and unexpected - effect of the conjunction of Live8 and the G8 is the upsurge of interest in Africa and the informed debate it has spawned. The debt cancellation agreement, which is to be sealed at Gleneagles, has been rightly applauded. But it has also prompted discussion about how far even the most generous amounts of aid and debt relief can solve the less developed countries' problems. For almost the first time, non-specialists are hearing the arguments that have raged in the "aid community" for years.

There are questions of principle, such as which is cause and which effect as regards poverty and poor governance. There are questions of practice, such as how can foreign governments and aid organisations ensure that money reaches the people who need it rather than Swiss banks. How is it possible to assist grassroots initiatives, when all permits lie through corrupt officials? And how far does aid without strings produce dependency?

That such fundamental arguments are suddenly being aired is an excellent development. If it means that rich governments will be less inclined to treat incompetent leaders with kid gloves in order to patronise them or sell them arms, it is high time. Bob Geldof's preoccupation with aid and debt relief may now seem a little old-fashioned and simplistic, but he takes the credit for starting the discussion.

The challenge is how to proceed. The priority must be to help Africa help itself; abolishing tariff barriers is just one route, but a crucial one. At the same time, the danger must also be avoided of treating all Africa as a single basket case. There are successes - countries, such as Mozambique and Ghana, which are enjoying economic growth and reducing reliance on aid. Some poor nations are starting to establish democracies, such as Mali and Senegal, and must be encouraged. Establishing what works across this variegated continent is crucial. However much our consciousness is raised by Live8, Africa's destiny rests with its people. When the music dies down, our commitment must continue.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

Read Next
9.4 million people watched the first of the three-way debates at the last election. The audience for the one on Thursday is likely to be far lower.  

David Cameron needs to learn some new tricks – and fast

Steve Richards
The 2010-formed Coalition was led by a partly reformed Conservative Party, checked and balanced by Nick Clegg  

How did the Coalition ever manage to work together so harmoniously?

Isabel Hardman
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor