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African aid remains mostly a promise

When it comes to aiding Africa, Bono is discovering that political leaders are quicker to make promises than deliver them.

“Sometimes their hearts are open, but their wallets are closed,” Bono explains. “We work to achieve open hearts, open minds and open wallets.”

At their G8 summit last summer, the world's wealthiest nations said they'd open their wallets — pledging to double aid to $50 billion four years from now and erase African nations' debt.

“I'm proud of my nation's contribution toward meeting that goal,” President Bush said on July 7, 2005.

Almost a year later, Bono has gotten them to cancel 100 percent of the debt from 13 African nations, but direct aid is a different story. Of the eight countries, so far only Great Britain has lived up to its commitments.

As for the U.S., the president proposed a $3 billion increase in foreign aid, much of it for Africa. But House Republicans slashed that increase to $600 million.

“The aggregate aid numbers have increased,"

says former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Susan Rice. "

But we haven't kept the promises we made."

“From an African's perspective, for example, they don’t care whether the president said it and wasn’t able to get it through Congress,” says Tom Hart, who lobbies Congress for Bono's “One” campaign. “They only know they're not getting the assistance they need.”

Another major setback: last year's summit promised to lift barriers so African nations could sell their farm products in Europe and the U.S. That would be a giant leap toward reducing African poverty, but global trade talks have since collapsed.