25/01/2012 12:17 GMT

The UK's Commitment To Charitable Work Is An Example To Other Countries, Says Bill Gates

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has praised the UK for its "fantastic" commitment to fighting extreme poverty across the world.

The computer pioneer-turned-philanthropist said it gave his charitable foundation the opportunity to ask for other countries such as the US to increase their aid budgets.

The coalition government has pledged to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development from next year.

Speaking at the launch of an anti-poverty initiative at the London School of Economics, Gates said: "The UK is actually quite exemplary.

"The generosity in aid that the UK is providing in tough times, the commitment to get up to 0.7%, is fantastic. But I know there's the economic challenges [which] are more evident in people as some of these cuts come through.

"That is going to be questioned, and so reminding people that it's only about 2% of the budget and it really has an impact [overseas], that's going to be absolutely important.

"By maintaining this UK commitment it gives us a chance to work. We're working in Germany, we're working in France, we're working in the United States - that's a tough one - to try and get that generosity to go up."

He added: "I applaud your commitment to this cause. It's one that we will be successful [in] but we need your best work to do it."

Gates, who with his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that innovation in health and agriculture would reduce extreme poverty.

He highlighted the negative impact of high food prices and stressed the importance of vaccination against polio.

In June last year, Britain pledged £814m to the GAVI Alliance, a public-private global health partnership which brings together governments with the vaccine industry and philanthropists including Gates.

On Wednesday he met with several ambassadors for the Global Poverty Project, who will be trained to give anti-poverty presentations to a diverse range of communities.

One of those ambassadors, Cambridge University student Phelim Brady, 18, said: "The key thing is activation.

"A lot of people do want to do something about poverty but feel there are barriers such as lack of money and corruption."

Another ambassador, 22-year-old Nikita Chauhan, from London, described Mr Gates's speech as "amazingly thought-provoking".