Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Consumers International (CI) Friday welcomed the report of the Commission for Africa, saying implementing its recommendations will help transform the lives of African consumers, by raising their standards of living and improving civil rights.
CI, the global federation of consumer organisations, welcomed the Commission's recommendations to increase the capacity of African countries to trade within Africa, abolish trade-distorting subsidies and protectionism by western countries, and extend duty and quota-free access to western markets The Commission also recommended increase in aid to ensure wider consumer access to improved essential services, such as health, education, water and sanitation, and to affordable drugs and vaccines to tackle diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
In a press statement issued Friday in London after the report of the Blair Commission (after British Premier Tony Blair) was unveiled, CI hailed it for encouraging greater openness and transparency by African governments.
The Commission seeks to tackle the corruption and poor standards of governance which severely reduces the welfare of all consumers and compromises the attainment of their basic rights.
However, CI said that the Commission failed to give sufficient weight to demand-led economic development and the needs of African consumers.
"We welcome this report, to which CI contributed its long experience of working with African consumer groups.
It is good to see the focus on governance, especially the need for government transparency, greater civil society participation and the fight against corruption," noted Julian Edwards, CI director-general.
"But we are disappointed that there are no specific references to consumers and consumer rights.
We support the need to develop trade, but successful exporting has to be based on effective national markets," Edwards observed.
He added, "certainly this needs improved physical infrastructure.
But it also needs effective consumer protection, respect for standards, competition regulation and market-savvy consumers at home.
These are part of improved governance but need specific attention and investment.
Africans are some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable consumers and their rights should be a starting point, not an afterthought.
" "Nevertheless the report could be the turning point.
We look forward to seeing the G8 and other western governments commit the funding needed to carry the wide-ranging commitments forward.