Poorest countries to summit in Doha to get world’s attention
Leaders of least-developed countries (LDCs) will issue a fresh plea for help at a summit that opens in Doha on Sunday, hoping to draw the world’s attention at a critical juncture.
The repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of the war in Ukraine on food and fuel supplies, and the costly fight against climate change are painful for rich countries, but much worse for the 1.3 billion people, or 14% of the world’s population living in the 46 LDCs. “The multiple crises raging today are particularly severe in LDCs”said Agnes Chimbiri-Molande, Malawian Ambassador to the United Nations and Spokesperson for LDCs at the UN.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and leaders and representatives from 33 African countries, 12 Asia-Pacific countries and Haiti will meet five decades after the UN created the LDC category in the aim of providing special international support for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members. An action plan for these countries was adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2022.
However, no promise of a major financial contribution is expected at the Doha summit, which has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus. Thousands of experts and activists are also expected in Qatar where the LDCs want to ensure that promises are kept and give new impetus, according to experts.
” Burden “
But progress made even before the outbreak of the coronavirus was “disappointing”according to Matthias Boussichas, head of programs at the Foundation for Studies and Research on International Development (Ferdi), based in France.
The international community, he said, must address the “structural handicaps” : to trade and growth, which LDCs have been facing for decades, rather than to recent crises. “If we leave them behind (…), the burden will fall on the international community”warned Rabab Fatima, United Nations High Representative for LDCs.
According to the World Bank, the average salary in Afghanistan is estimated at a few hundred dollars a year, compared to 65,000 dollars (61,183 euros) in the United States. Barely half of the poorest have electricity and only one in five people can connect to the internet, according to the UN.
Since 1971, the number of LDCs, which were 24 at the start, has almost doubled. Thanks to their designation among the most disadvantaged countries, they benefit from commercial privileges and easier access to aid and other financing.
Tiny Bhutan should ” to go out “ this year from the LDC category. Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands should follow by 2026. They will gradually lose their privileges but will continue to need help, even after their ” promotion “according to Mr. Boussichas.
Trade and investment
Some 500 business leaders from several countries are expected to attend the summit to stimulate private investment in poor countries, according to Ms.me Fatima.
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Microsoft has already pledged on Thursday to bring internet to 20 million more people in Africa, adding to a pledge of 10 million made in 2022 as part of a plan to connect 100 million people in Africa by to 2025. This is a “big goal”Microsoft President Brad Smith told AFP. “This requires the support of governments, (…) financial investments. But it’s an achievable number.”according to him.
“Part of what they need is trade and investment, not just foreign aid. And we see digital technology as a potential catalyst for investment, trade and economic growth”added Mr. Smith.