Blogging the G20 Summit in London

The G20 Summit is coming to town next week and I have been selected as one of 50 bloggers from across the world invited to attend the summit as part of the G20-Voice. The official G20 meetings will take place on the 2nd April but there will be massive protests by various groups such as the Climate Change – Camp for Climate Action, , G20 Meltdown – a coalition of groups- all of whom plan to descend on various parts of the City’s square “financial” mile starting at noon on Wednesday 1st April. Meanwhile the G20 will be meeting on the 2nd behind closed doors safely locked away from the masses with only the media and a few select bloggers to contend with. Sparing with words is something the G20 leaders and their cohorts running the financial markets, have perfected. Nonetheless I am sure we are all prepared to use this opportunity to call them to account for the

My plan of action is to try to cover both the G20 summit and the Alternative G20 along with the mass direct action organized by G20 meltdown in the City. I am doing this because I believe there are going to be enough bloggers meeting with the so called NGO experts on the Wednesday including Daudi Were of Mental Acrobatics from Kenya and I think it is important that we also get to hear alternative voices. I have just noted that in the Alternative G20 there is not one single speaker from Africa or the Black British community – a serious indictment on the part of the organisers and a point which needs to be raised.

I am still trying to frame some key thoughts from an African perspective on the global financial crisis, climate chaos and the increasing poverty not just in the global south but here in the West as well. Economics is really not my forte and even if it was I would prefer to invite readers to contribute to a discussion so I am hoping bloggers from across Africa will leave their comments. Then along with Daudi Were we can present an “African position” – not an easy task given the diversity in all areas in Africa but I think this is preferable to just focusing on our respective countries. Some of the points we need to think of are what are the lessons Africans can learn from the failure of neo-liberal financial and development policies? The UN Secretary General proposes a $1 trillion in aid for Africa to get through the recessionary period – how long that will be is any body’s guess – is more development aid the answer? The BBC reported today that some 300,000 jobs had been lost in the copper mines in the DRC as businesses simply closed down leaving workers with no pay or support – should the workers received compensation and if so from whom?

Another point is when developing nations go through a financial crisis, the West through their agencies, the IMF and World Bank force these countries to drastically cut spending, raise interest rates to extremely high levels and privatise their industries. In other words they are forced to sell off their natural resources to corporations based in the West and as in the case of the DRC mentioned above, when the prices of these resources collapse, the corporations simply close up shut and run. However, now that economies in the West are collapsing, such as in the U.S. and U.K., a different set of rules are applied. Here the remedy is to increase spending to massive levels in figures none of us can even begin to comprehend, slash interest rates to all time record lows and then to bailout and nationalise the financial sector which is largely responsible for the mess in the first place. So why a different set of rules for the West?

I am sure I will come up with a host of other questions in the next few days but again please do contribute to the discussion. Here is a worthwhile essay on which raises a lot of questions on the choices and direction open to Africa… “What should be the response from Africa” by Demba Moussa Dembele