African leaders must end the continent’s dependence on exploitative countries such as the United States and China


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There is something disturbing about the change in the global economic and political order. Three things are clear: global solidarity is a pipe dream, democracy is amorphous, and the rules-based international order is a donkey. Well, at least as far as the African continent is concerned, its people and its livelihoods.

The sooner African leaders realize that there will never be a cavalry sent to save the troubled continent from marauding horsemen from disease, poverty, deception and war, the better for the prospects. of the rebirth of Africa.

Let me explain.

Much of the world system and the survival of nations are determined by checkered, undemocratic political systems largely influenced by the whims of “democracies” that do not really know and care about Africa.

While the Berlin Conference of 1884 sparked a precipitous scramble for African territory by a plethora of European nations, the current scramble for the continent’s natural resources by major global political and economic rivalries portends deeper economic and political difficulties. for Africa. It could also serve as a harbinger of the continent’s continuing political instability and economic insecurity.

Africa, and the rest of the world, is in the throes of a deadly global health crisis.

Tellingly, the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting global economic difficulties have torn off any veneer of solidarity between nations. The richest countries, true to their paternalistic nature and attitude towards Africa, have not been credible partners as they strived to secure and accumulate scarce test kits, therapies and vaccines. Covid-19 for themselves.

The pandemic has exposed the duplicity, greed and bureaucratic inertia of the wealthiest nations that have largely left Africans to their own devices in the fight against Covid-19. This despite the promises made to ensure equitable access to the tools necessary to fight the pandemic.

African leaders seem to have forgotten that in an emergency, before helping others, it is advisable to help yourself. One cannot imagine a more relevant application of this adage than during a pandemic. Rich nations do what they should.

As the global transition from fossil fuels to a renewable energy system gains momentum, increased demand for base minerals and precious metals has triggered an increase in major countries’ interest in Africa.

New estimates from the African Development Bank suggest the continent’s infrastructure needs stand at $ 130-170 billion per year, with the infrastructure financing gap in the range of $ 68-108 billion.

Although traditional institutional investors have more than $ 100,000 billion in assets under management globally, a tiny fraction of that amount is intended to reduce Africa’s annual infrastructure investment gap.

But, while multilateral development finance agencies often insist that political reforms come with conditionalities on their loans and financial assistance, China’s laissez-faire foreign policy has propelled it to the forefront. mainland lender and trading partner since 2009. China has infrastructure projects in all areas. African countries except in eSwatini.

Much of modern China’s rapid growth is driven by state-owned enterprises, and under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has become the ultimate authority in business and politics. This has enabled China to change Africa’s political prejudices and increase its influence on the continent through foreign aid trade and diplomacy. And for that, China has aroused resentment and is accused of colonizing Africa through a sleight of hand on the debt.

It is undeniable that China has contributed significantly to the economic growth of some of the poorest countries in Africa. It easily benefited from competitive funding and expertise for infrastructure projects with long and innovative repayment terms that traditional Western agencies would be reluctant to provide. But onerous financing terms have turned out to be double-edged swords for some of the heavily indebted and defaulting countries.

To the apparent delight of most African kleptocrats, China’s policy of non-interference in internal affairs and of imposing conditions for political reform on its infrastructure investments in African countries has, as expected, resulted in China a great success despite the predominantly unfair structure of trade. agreements that are generally biased in its favor.

President Joe Biden, on a mission to counter China’s growing hegemony, seeking to distract the United States from the unorthodox, impulsive, one-sided and confrontationalist foreign policy of his predecessor, recently convened a virtual summit for democracy. How ironic that Angola, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, countries Freedom House describes as undemocratic regimes, were invited to attend while China, Russia and Turkey, a NATO ally, were sidelined.

This angered China, which, seeking to counter Biden’s initiative ahead of his summit, rolled out its one-party model of “socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics” and “a full process democracy”. In an article titled China: Democracy That Works, China attacked “American Democracy.”

Obviously, determining what qualifies as “democracy” depends on an approach that is too ideological to advance one’s global agenda.

Neither the United States nor China has the moral authority to lecture the world about democracy, let alone impose its forms of democracy on anyone. The more the United States and China extolled their democratic idealisms, the more they helped to unmask their selfish world agendas and moral dyslexia.

Africa must first look at itself before it can look to the United States or China as models of democratic practice or as a helping hand. But African leaders continue to aid and encourage developed countries in their own mistreatment and looting of Africa while modeling themselves on Europe without the requisite political conviction.

The African Union, a pan-Africanist organization modeled on the European Union which fights for the political and economic integration of African nations, is trying to build institutions that would advance its objectives.

In support of the AU, China constructed and donated the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei was discovered years later to facilitate spying on the building. This should not have been surprising since Chinese intelligence laws legally oblige Chinese companies and citizens to “support and cooperate in national intelligence work.” The AU appeared baffled by this affront from China.

If there are lessons to be learned from this episode, it is that there is no free lunch and that African leaders must keep critical infrastructure, including railways, roads, ports, etc. telecommunications, energy and food production systems, beyond Chinese influence and control.

While the EU imposes strict political, economic and national prequalification criteria, membership of the AU only requires that a country be geographically located in Africa and be elected by a simple majority of member states. existing.

For the first decade of the new millennium, the industrialized world has pledged financial support to the AU’s New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative which was established in 2001.

A key factor that has contributed to Nepad’s failure is that despite publicly promoting the ideals of good governance and democracy, it has failed to enforce them following violations over the years. For example, the leaders of Zimbabwe, Zambia, the DRC and Madagascar have violated Nepad’s core values ​​of respect for human rights and the integrity of elections with impunity.

Agenda 2063, the AU’s “master plan and master plan to transform Africa into the world power of the future,” looks like a repainted Nepad car. But unlike NEPAD, the more nuanced African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) requires an even more rigorous and coherent strategy and implementation.

But lax membership criteria, pervasive venality, poor enforcement of peace and security frameworks, and a ludicrous African peer review mechanism, which breeds autocratic mockery in its ranks, will continue to plague one. Rudderless UA, best described as an assortment of leisurely and weird bed-mates. .

As in 1884, the race to recolonize Africa has undoubtedly gained ground. As former US President John Adams once said, “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other by debt. As to whether China’s benevolence towards Africa constitutes neocolonialism and slavery, the jury is still out.

It is worth quoting the recently deceased Archbishop Desmond Tutu as he wisely advised: “There comes a time when we have to stop dragging people out of the river. We have to go back upstream and find out why they fall into it.

It is a common cause for which African countries continue to fall into the debt trap, struggle to overcome the cavaliers, languish in development goals and risk imploding. To reverse the trend, African leaders must come together ‘upstream’ to invest in joint advanced industries that will help propel industrialization. They must commit to an irrevocable and legally enforceable pact that would deter extractive investments and strive to further enhance the value of the precious metals with which they are endowed.

With scientists predicting even more pathogenic threats in the future, this presents an opportunity for African countries to invest in the development of vaccines and related products instead of blaming richer countries by ceding their intellectual capital to them.

Such a paradigm shift would not only help break the pattern of entrenched paternalistic practices of rich nations in their dealings with Africa, but also inspire and secure Africa’s future.

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About Mitchel McMillan

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