Nigeria's Creditors Should be Ashamed, Says Global AIDS Alliance

Nigeria to Send $12.4 Billion to World's Richest Nations

Oct 20, 2005, 01:00 ET from Global AIDS Alliance

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Nigeria reached an agreement
 with its largest creditors, grouped in what is known as the Paris Club.  The
 agreement will lead to the cancellation of a large portion of Nigeria's
 massive $35.9 billion debt, 85.8% of which is owed to the Paris Club.  The
 debt had built up over many years, following loans given by France, Germany,
 Japan, the United Kingdom and others to a string of Nigerian despots.
     In today's agreement Nigeria has been granted cancellation of $18 billion
 of its eligible debt.  But, to receive this deal, Nigeria had to commit to
 paying the Paris Club nations $12.4 billion, mainly to France, the UK, and
 Germany.  This figure comprises $6.3 billion in arrears to be paid by the end
 of October, plus another $6.1 billion for a debt buy-back operation next
     "This agreement extracts $12.4 billion from Africa and transfers it to a
 group of wealthy countries who do not really need the money," said Dr. Paul
 Zeitz, Director of the Global AIDS Alliance.  "It is an outrage that creditors
 simply plan to use this payment to fill their treasuries.  The annual budget
 of such creditors as Japan and the United Kingdom is over 100 times that of
 Nigeria.  Surely we can do better than accepting taking billions from the
 world's poorest continent.  We expect more from the G8 nations, who promised
 Africa so much in their Gleaneagles declaration in July."
     "Nigeria's government has made the best of a terrible situation," he
 noted.  "In the long run, Nigeria could save a billion dollars a year in debt
 repayments and potentially double health spending.  That is an impressive
 achievement.  Nigeria has the third highest number of HIV positive people in
 the world, and with these resources it could scale up AIDS treatment."
     "However, the creditors should be ashamed of themselves if they simply
 take this money," Zeitz stated.  "These creditors often knew that the money
 would be siphoned off by dictators and deposited in western banks, and the
 resulting debt is morally illegitimate.  They bear a moral obligation to think
 more creatively about how to use this money.  Nigeria has already paid these
 creditors $11.6 billion in debt service since 1985.  We challenge the
 creditors to redirect this additional $12.4 billion to Africa's development."
     "A substantial portion of this sum should be given to the Global Fund to
 Fight AIDS, tb and malaria and specified for high-quality health projects in
 Africa," Zeitz said.  "The Global Fund has stated that it urgently needs
 greater contributions to proceed with additional grant-making next year."
     "The contribution of Nigeria's debt payments would revolutionize the
 financial status of the Global Fund.  Let's make sure African resources go
 towards helping Africa, not wealthy nations."
     Even with the recent scale up in global AIDS programs, the needs of
 orphans and vulnerable children are far from being met, and millions of
 children face abandonment.  Global AIDS Alliance released a report today,
 "Remember the Children: Global Fund Round 6 in 2006," which shows that with
 greater resources the Fund could dramatically increase funding to help
     The new report is online at:
     The Fund could also use these resources to help Africa improve health
 systems.  Better health systems are needed to not only to fight AIDS, tb and
 malaria, but also to prepare for a possible avian flu pandemic.
 Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click
 appropriate link.
 Dr. Paul S. Zeitz

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance