Gates, Bono, unveil 'DATA Agenda' for Africa
February 2, 2002 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Gates, Bono, unveil 'DATA Agenda' for Africa "We have an agenda," said Bono at a news conference, "which we're calling the 'DATA Agenda': 'Debt, AIDS and trade for Africa, in return for democracy, accountability and transparency in Africa.'

As bracing as it is to see a picture of Bono with Bill Gates, there is an interesting message here. Bono compares Africa today with post-WWII Europe, describing it as vulnerable to extremism. Bill Gates is fronting the cash to improve health care and raise living standards in third-world countries.
posted by planetkyoto (12 comments total)

 
I wonder if they'll secceed and start their own country soon. I could see it happening, actually. What I want to know is why is this under Sci/Tech on CNN?

Despite my ingrown loathing for both of those two, this seems to be like a pretty good thing.
posted by atom128 at 7:37 PM on February 2, 2002


We've ignored Africa for too long, and I was sad (though not surprised) to see Clinton's overtures towards them given the cold shoulder by Bush. If for no other reason than realizing much of Africa could be the next Afghanistan, we should be involved. Not to mention - it's the Right thing to do.
posted by owillis at 7:42 PM on February 2, 2002


Wouldn't it be nice if there were any Africans, or even Americans or Europeans of African descent, involved in this?

The one common thread in the American- and British-led reconstruction after World War II was the insistence that locals play principal roles from almost the beginning, even in erstwhile enemy territories such as Germany, Italy, Austria, and Japan.

One thing that we did in Japan, and, to a lesser extent, in Germany, was to choose who those local leaders would be and more or less surpress any domestic opposition thereto. Since sub-Saharan Africa isn't comprised of defeated enemies, we don't have that luxury, and there is no installed base of qualified modern leadership that can be relied upon, with the exception of the ANC in South Africa and limited exceptions elsewhere (Kenya, to a limited extent, perhaps others.)
posted by MattD at 7:45 PM on February 2, 2002


Wouldn't it be nice...

Well, it would be, I suppose, but as long as something actually gets done to better the lives of the poor, I call 'whatever' on that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:47 PM on February 2, 2002


true, this may prove mightilly beneficial to a great number of people, but wasn't bono more interesting when he hung out with more controversial company?
posted by grabbingsand at 9:38 PM on February 2, 2002


" ... Wouldn't it be nice if there were any Africans, or even Americans or Europeans of African descent, involved in this? ..."

There are. (Gates, BTW, is The Money here, and Bono is The Face). Most of what Gates does so far as philanthropy goes is solid business. He doesn't try to re-invent the wheel, but attempts to leverage the not inconsiderable amount of his foundation's money into even bigger effect. He is already dealing w/ AIDS in Africa, but he's not trying to set up a seperate organization - rather, he's looking at the best organizations already working on the problem and attempting to feed them resources (as well as encouraging matching donations, and lending management expertise).
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:08 PM on February 2, 2002


Wouldn't it be nice if there were any Africans, or even Americans or Europeans of African descent, involved in this?

If you were living in an impoverished dictatorship and at high risk for all sorts of health problems, how much would you care about the skin color of your benefactors? How much should you care?
posted by kindall at 11:13 PM on February 2, 2002


Hrm. Well, there are already countries and stuff, they're just poor and lead by poor people. You shouldn't think that just because we're 'america' that people would welcome our control in open arms. The west took over africa once, and manage to royaly fuck it up in their exodus.

I'm sure they'd all like to take Gate's money for doing things like improving healthcare and infestructure. But it's foolish and dangerous to think that we could just take control and put in people want... that method hasn't won us a lot of friends in the middle east and south asia.

Don't forget that the US is hated around the world. We should asist these countries, and work for change. Put trying to impose our will is not a good plan
posted by delmoi at 12:55 AM on February 3, 2002


it's foolish and dangerous to think that we could just take control and put in people want... that method hasn't won us a lot of friends in the middle east and south asia.

Seems to be working okay in Afghanistan, though.
posted by kindall at 12:57 AM on February 3, 2002


As bracing as it is to see a picture of Bono with Bill Gates...

After seeing Bono being all buddy-buddy with Jesse Helms, nothing that boy does shocks me anymore.
More power to him and Gates, though. Africa needs all the help it can get.

Off-topic comment: The Afghani occupation has only lasted about a month and a half. It's still highly anarchic, with lots of warlords and factions who are mianly just out for themselves, but that side of the story's not stressed in the sort of wall-to-wall media coverage we've all grown to know and love. Things seemed rosy in Somalia, too, at first. Note to self (and America): Just because a war ends, it doesn't mean that the country disappears. At least the Big Story nowadays is actually important.
posted by skoosh at 2:42 AM on February 3, 2002


As long as they don't start shipping them hundreds of thousands of computers which require OS upgrades every few years...

Yes, Africa can use Bill Gate's money... but they can also use Torvald's OS.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:13 AM on February 3, 2002


MattD: I think your comments vastly oversimplify the post-colonial process in Africa, particularly your comments regarding leadership. In many cases there were excellent local bureaucracies and government structures bequeathed, as it were, on independence, which were gutted and purged by tribal and military leaders who seized the government by demagoguery or coup.

Regarding whether Africans support such a plan, there is much resemblance here to Mbeki's Millennium Plan for Africa, which went beyond begging/demanding debt relief and instead proposed trading debt relief for governmental and economic reforms in a pro-active manner. I think this plan received much less attention than it deserved. Also, what will be the role of the new African Union (née OAU)? Among other things, they're proposing an African development bank that would be separate from the IMF. Whatever else it may mean, I believe this move towards a goal-oriented, self-sufficient, and responsible Africa is an important sign of maturity and progress.

Alas, much of Robert Kaplan's 1994 essay The Coming Anarchy is coming true for Africa (though there are hopeful signs that all is not lost). The increasingly chilling news from Zimbabwe, where the once somewhat respected Robert Mugabe has embarked on a campaign of terror and race-baiting against his own people and the whites who stayed after apartheid hoping to work and live in a multi-ethnic nation. It will take more than money to solve these kinds of problems; and sanctions are known to be pathetically ineffective, no matter how self-congratulatory their proponents are (other than that, it's a good article, though).

This is the problem with the current championing of 'democratic reform' as an engine for improving the lives of improverished peoples: the new democracies are fragile and subject to despotic takeovers, and the political legitimacy of the leaders does not draw from the classes that would be affected by, say, sanctions -- one reason they were but a buzzing fly of annoyance to the Taliban.
posted by dhartung at 10:34 AM on February 3, 2002


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