Writing off Africa’s debts and increasing financial assistance has increased in recent years, with awareness being raised throughout the developed world by Sir Bob Geldof.
The campaign to write off Africa’s debts has been led politically by Britain’s new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who as Chacellor of the Exchequer used his position to influence other G8 countries to follow Britain’s lead.
But smaller countries have joined in with increased assistance, and notably the world’s smallest country, Monaco, has not only taken her UN responsibilities seriously, but led by Prince Albert has tried to persuade other countries to do the same.
Prince Albert, who became Monaco’s Sovereign in 2005, has been strutting the world stage promoting global warming and the Third World as issues that must move up the political agenda to fellow world leaders, and despite being the second smallest country in the world, has been punching above the principality’s weight in persuading others to take the environment and development in Africa seriously.
Monaco has also opened her first new embassy outside of Europe, in Washington D.C.
According to a Monaco travel guide the Washington Embassy will provide a good base for Prince Albert to meet and greet the decision makers of Capitol Hill at functions and official receptions.
One country that has followed Monaco’s advice, is fellow European tax haven Andorra.
Fifty years ago Andorra was one of Europe’s poorest countries, but now counts among the wealthiest, thanks mainly to her tax haven status, but also her ski industry, which has seen as many as ten millions visitors in a year – pretty impressive for a country with a 70,000 population.
Well known for her ski resorts, Andorra has transformed her ski holiday image over the last 20 years from a ‘poor man’s Switzerland’ to a fully functional ski country able to compete with other European countries during the December April European ski season.
So successful has the transformation been that nearly ten million tourists visit the country each year.
One of the first moves Andorra is making is to have more diplomatic relations with countries in Africa, currently they only have them with South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.
But rather than have one ambassador for each country, they will have one to cover two or three countries, depending upon their geographical size and population. And rather than be based in Africa, they will be resident in Andorra, visiting the respective countries when necessary.
Believing that with new technology the new Ambassadors can effectively stay in Andorra will save money, money that can be used towards development rather than on salaries, expenses and embassy buildings.
Andorra has started already with her new development programme, and are helping to finance a safe water project in Mali, with more similar projects to come in the near future.
As well as financial and development aid, Andorra is keen too to encourage cultural links. Earlier this year Andorra played host to Senegal musician Ismael Lo, which was received enthusiastically in Andorra.