Bill Gates: More people will die in Africa if Theresa May scraps aid target

Posted On: 
20th April 2017

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned more people will die in Africa if Theresa May drops the pledge to spend 0.7% of Britain’s national income each year on foreign aid.

Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates
Credit: 
PA Images

The philanthropist said key work on disease prevention and food and farming infrastructure “would not get done”.

The Prime Minister has so far refused to confirm whether maintaining the 0.7% target will feature in the Tory manifesto ahead of the 8 June general election.

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Speculation has arisen that it could be dropped following a string of stories about aid money being squandered and failing to reach its targets.

But Mr Gates said Britain’s global influence would be diminished if those reports are borne out, as he painted a grim picture of the consequences of cutting off the cash.

“The big aid givers now are the US, Britain and Germany,” he explained in an interview with the Guardian.

“Those are the three biggest and if those three back off, a lot of the ambitious things going on with malaria, agriculture and reproductive health simply would not get done.”

“Malaria has always been the disease we really want to take on and the UK has always in terms of research capacity and aid been a leader.

“In terms of where the aid ambition gets set, the UK can be a huge leader in driving that malaria eradication, or the world may have to back off and not get started on that.”

According to Unicef one million people die from malaria each year – with 90% of cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.

Asked by the Sun this week whether she might scrap the 0.7% foreign aid target the Prime Minister said: “You’ll have to wait, and read the manifesto when it comes, won’t you?”

A Downing Street source added yesterday: “We are meeting our commitments now… In terms of the future manifesto, that’s something which you’ll have to wait for the manifesto for.”

Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor said: “Bill Gates is right to point out that cutting the UK international development budget could cost lives. 

“Theresa May must not step away from our commitment to foreign aid. She talks about a Global Britain but she seems keener to turn us into a Little England.”