Blair, Bill and Bono take Davos spotlight

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 26, 2007 (AFP) – Davos regulars Bill Gates, Tony Blair and Bono sought Friday to stir the collective conscience of the annual huddle of global leaders over the plight of the developing world. Bono, the U2 frontman — a rare exception to the bar on celebrity delegates at this year’s gathering of the World Economic Forum — was scheduled to join British Prime Minister Blair in pressing industrialised nations to honour their promises on aid to Africa.

South African President Thabo Mbeki will participate in the same evening discussion, which also seeks to question whether African nations are doing enough to create the conditions for sustainable growth.

Billionaire Microsoft founder Gates kicked off the development theme of the day, briefing reporters on the work of the global immunisation programme funded by the foundation he runs with his wife Melinda.

“Vaccines are a miracle thing,” Gates said, adding that vaccination in developing countries had reached record levels, saving the lives of some 2.3 million children.

The global GAVI alliance said it had been able to immunise 138 million children for a variety of preventable diseases in the world’s poorest countries since it was