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Will the 21st century be the African century? This is the question ONE's founders Bono and Bob Geldof examined by guest editing one of Canada’s top newspapers, the Globe and Mail, as part of a month of Africa content on the Globe’s website.

During a previous interview with American President Barack Obama, Bono had the upcoming guest edit in mind when he posed some questions to include in the special edition. The Q&A looked briefly like this:

Bono: You’re going to be in Canada in June for the G8. It’s not straightforward to get eight people to agree on anything, let alone eight countries. What do you think you can achieve?

Obama: It is one hallmark of the G8 in recent years that, collectively, we have put issues of global poverty and development at the centre of our agenda. This is a sign of how far we’ve come and makes clear that one of the issues that the world’s largest economies agree on without reservation is that development is a priority…

Bono: What impact do you think the US Food Security Initiative will have and what are the roadblocks you are coming up against?

Obama: One of the important facts about the Food Security Initiative is that it was shaped by developing countries. The challenge now is to translate principles into action. …It’s still early, but we expect that by the time the summit kicks off, we’ll be able to say that we’ve allocated resources to country plans and to research and development, that we’ve launched a new trust fund headed by the World Bank, and that we’re at the table with resources, technical advice and support, and the willingness to invest as partners.

Bono: These are tough economic times at home. What do you say to people who question whether the U.S. should be investing time and resources in helping people in other countries?

Obama: I can sum it up very simply: Development is a strategic and moral imperative for the United States. … Our collective challenge is to pro-actively shape the world we want to see in the future by seeking, very deliberately, to accelerate development. The return on this investment is potentially enormous…

Bono: What do you think we can do to support this rising generation [of African entrepreneurs]?

Obama: … The continent is vibrant and not simply a place of enormous need. This simple fact reminds us that, while we must continue our efforts to meet the pressing needs of so many, we should be just as focused on what it takes to create vibrant market economies that will tap and unleash this creativity.

(See the Q&A in its entirety here.)

The tables were turned on the guest editors when the two had to answer questions posed by Globe and Mail website viewers such as why it takes two white men to lead discussions on Africa. But neither Bono nor Geldof see their efforts to end poverty as a specifically African or color issue. They see it as an unnecessary human condition and have dedicated themselves to change it.

For more on the Globe and Mail’s Africa feature, click here.

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