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Geldof: G8 leaders aren't as rich, but must still help Africa

Bob Geldof's 1985 Live Aid concert was watched by an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion.

After spending the last five days with Bob Geldof, I feel that I know his opinion about everything.

His forceful rhetoric - delivered at one hundred miles per an hour and sprinkled with a selection of profanities - is what first helped to make the famine in Ethiopia a global issue during the 1980s.

As we fly to Dollo Ado, a city-sized refugee camp close to the Ethiopia-Somalia border, it becomes clear that his passion has not diminished.

We talk at length. Well, he talks much more than I do. I see in him every ounce of the rockstar-turned-activist who told millions of television viewers to “Give us your f***ing money” during Live Aid. His straggly locks are a little greyer than they were then, but he is the same man.

We walk through the corridors of a conference centre in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where leaders from Africa and beyond are meeting at the World Economic Forum.

Geldof bounces from leader to leader. Their aides race up to him requesting meetings. They all want to be seen with him. In the world of politicians and aid workers, he remains a superstar.

A very, very senior government minister from one African country, who asked not to be named, sidled up to me. “So, you’re with Sir Bob. Please, please can you introduce me to him?”

Geldof’s appeal to Ethiopians is based upon his enduring passion. To many people here, he is the antidote to those western leaders whose promises at previous G8 summits have proved to be no more than hollow words.

When world leaders meet at this year’s summit, at Camp David this week, they will make new pledges on Africa. The political and economic climate is quite different to that which surrounded the global consensus to ‘Make Poverty History’ ahead of the 2005 Gleneagles summit.

Rich nations aren’t so rich, and the charity slogan ‘Drop the Debt’ might be just as pertinent to rich nations as they are to the poor. Meanwhile, countries like Ethiopia are experiencing rapid economic growth.

Geldof is not a politician. He does not have a shrinking economy or unsettled electorate to think about. His enthusiasm for the cause is the same. But the world around him has changed.