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Conflicts retard African economies, says study

By unknown | Oct 11, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Conflicts cost Africa each year more than would be required to solve the continent's HIV-Aids crisis, a study showed yesterday.

Conflicts cost Africa each year more than would be required to solve the continent's HIV-Aids crisis, a study showed yesterday.

The study, released by three non-governmental organisations (NGOs), calls for stricter controls on global arms sales.

The Africa's Missing Billions study, carried out by Oxfam International, the International Action Network on Small Arms (Iansa) and British NGO Saferworld, estimates at nearly R2trillion the cost to Africa of conflicts between 1990 and 2005.

Conflicts in 23 countries were found to have cost the continent around as much as Africa had received in international aid over the same period.

"In my own country conflict has led to the squandering of rich mineral, agricultural and human resources that should have benefited Liberia and its people," Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wrote in the foreword to the report.

The money lost to conflicts each year could be spent on resolving a major development crisis, such as the HIV-Aids pandemic, the report found.

"Armed violence is one of the greatest threats to development in Africa," Irungu Houghton, Oxfam's African policy advisor said.

"Our figures are almost certainly an under-estimate but they show conflicts are costing African economies an average of R123billion a year.

"This money could solve the HIV-Aids crisis, prevent TB and malaria, or provide clean water, sanitation and education," Houghton said.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 63percent of all HIV infection cases worldwide, or 24,7million people. Oxfam has estimated the cost of reversing the spread of the virus in Africa and providing universal treatment, prevention and care at R112billion.

The study quantified the cost of conflict by looking at the impact on countries' gross domestic product (GDP).

By comparing the GDP of conflict countries with that of peaceful countries in the same income bracket, the authors were able to estimate the economic cost of conflict, including for example, the cost of lost trade.

A civil war or insurgency was found to shrink an African economy by on average 15percent.

The report forms part of a campaign for stricter controls on global arms sales, as laid down in the proposed UN arms trade treaty. - Sapa-DPA


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