“Our success educationally, industrially and politically is based upon the protection of a nation founded by ourselves. And the nation can be nowhere else but in Africa.”
The western world predictably ignored the African continent when they met recently in London to thrash out a solution to the global credit crisis. Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world, and after two millennia of profiteering from the valuable mineral, scientific and human resources of Africa, the western world served another slap in the face of contemporaneous Africans, by elevating African leaders to the position of a mere footnote.
In this climate of change, the least any rational thinking person would expect is for African leaders to jointly insist on playing a key role during the G20 summit, since the affects of the credit crisis poses more threat to the welfare of Africans than any other region in the world. Instead, African leaders – keen not to miss out on the release of additional funds from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank – clamoured to petition British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to convince members of the G20 to make available up to $50 billion in aid on 16 March. Each putting forward their own case as if they are alien entities to each other.
Leaders from South Africa, Ethiopia, Liberia, Tanzania, Botswana and Kenya and finance ministers from Nigeria and Rwanda made up the footnote petitioning committee to the G20 summit, an event that has itself already been long forgotten.
South Africa’s President Kgalema Motlanthe was the only African leader to attend the G20 summit on the strength of his country’s economy, Ethiopia is not in the group of the world’s 20 rich and emerging nations, but Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was invited by Gordon Brown to represent the entire African continent and Gabon’s Jean Ping acted as an “observer” on behalf of the African Union.
By any shake of the imagination, this trio seem an unusual bunch to be representing the interests of over 900 million people and the closer one looks the darker the picture becomes. Take Zenawi for instance, he gave himself a huge pat on the back on his return to Ethiopia, going as far as declaring that Africa had in fact secured $50 billion from the summit, stating “…I had never seen such pro-African decisions before from rich nations”. President Barack Obama announced that he actually aimed to double US food and agriculture aid to Africa and other poor regions to more than $1 billion – a far cry from the $50 million being “bandied around” by Zenawi. Meanwhile, Ethiopians protested in London during the G20 summit against the Ethiopian dictator, highlighting the human rights abuses perpetrated by him. In fact, some people do not even consider him as an Ethiopian.
Motlanthe, on the other hand, being the only African leader to attend the G20 summit, felt he had to stress his validity as part of the elite club of economic powerhouses by overemphasising the fact that he was there due to his country’s economic prowess each time he addressed journalists. Yet when the mist evaporates from the plains of Johannesburg, it becomes clear that South Africa’s largest businesses are still run by Europeans or Asians – even today.
In addition to South Africa and Ethiopia, Africa’s economic survival is also left in the hands of Gabon’s Jean Ping, who openly disputes genocide in Dafur and does not support the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The son of a Chinese trader and a Gabonese mother was previously Foreign Minister of Gabon and now resides as Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union. Interestingly, although Ping was formerly married to the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo’s daughter, was one of President Bongo's closest and longest-serving ministers and is also considered one of the most powerful figures in Gabon, his half-Chinese parentage is allegedly one reason why he is never likely to become Gabonese president after Bongo leaves power. On the contrary, it appears that Ping is eligible, however, to represent the whole of Africa in his position as Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union!
Off the back of fielding this trio of inadequacies, many commentators have not surprisingly confirmed that the G20 summit gave very little consideration to African countries, despite Zenawi’s optimism. The refusal of the western world to overhaul post-World War II multilateral institutions shows they are not serious about finding a truly global solution that includes Africa.
The G20 solution for Africa appears to be give aid, aid and more aid so that African countries sink deeper into debt, debt and more debt, or in other words African countries can carry on borrowing from these international financial institutions to the long term detriment of its people. History has shown clearly that African countries do not benefit from these gestures of aid. The strict conditions imposed by these institutions to be able to do business with most African countries are still entombed in stone on the global market. Is this the new world order – or just a rehash of old economic strategies that make the western world richer to the detriment of Africa and other poor regions? New world order? It’s just not good enough. Newer world order, I say!
So with all this going on, you have to ask how can Africa move away from this obvious disaster waiting to happen? The answers may only materialise through future generations, when Africans all over the world have been re-educated on their true history, social, religious and political structures. Only then will African leaders realise that Africa has the God given right to demand equal treatment on an international front. African leaders must realise that equality can only be a reality under a politically and economically united front.
It is time for Africa’s political leaders to unite in order to impose themselves on the western world, to protect the continent from the affects of the global credit crisis, rather than beg for more aid. Until Africa’s leaders start taking themselves seriously, we cannot expect the rest of the world to take Africa seriously.
IMF Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Khan stated that “It is time for the IMF to adapt to this new era… certainly time for advanced economies to be less arrogant. The way they address leaders of the rest of the world has to change…” and the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, said that “It is not possible to stimulate the world economy while ignoring the millions of the poor in Africa, south Asia and other places,” with Kaberuka recognising the need to “stimulate global growth more effectively by including 900 million Africans. A prospering Africa is part of the solution,” could the climate for real change in policies towards Africa be in the air?
With views from Kenyan economist, Oduor Ong’wen of the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute – “I don’t see much in terms of rescue for Africa… you can’t shave somebody’s head in his absence… in an almost 30-page communiqué, Africa is not even mentioned,” leads Afristoricals to think perhaps not.
Incontrovertibly, nations such as China did not approach the IMF or the World Bank for aid. China did not look outside to strengthen their economy – they mobilised their human resources into action, produced high quality low cost products specifically targeting the export market and within 20 years are now considered financial super powers. The fundamental success factor in China’s case was that these exporting businesses are all Chinese-owned. China didn’t stop there – they have now reportedly offered to aid the IMF with a $100 billion investment in bonds.
With all these proven ingredients to a strong economy why, then, have Africa’s political leaders failed to see this obvious solution? Recognise, support, motivate and mobilise Africa’s +900 million human resources into producing and exporting more value added products, promote fundamental agricultural industry growth, job creation through infrastructural projects, continental education and health care incentives. The list goes on and on, but change must come soon, so Africa can reduce its reliability on the exports of raw materials and grow into a flourishing economy.
Many people can see the obvious solutions, so are African leaders blind to what has happened in Asia, or just blinded by the prospect of receiving a piece of the confirmed $1 billion – to Zenawi’s imaginary $50 billion – worth of aid that will be poured into the continent via the IMF and World Bank? Surely allowing African businesses to operate within the same international trading laws as its European counterparts would give a kick-start to Africa’s economy.
The undeniable factor is that change cannot successfully come to Africa until African political leaders recognise the potential they have at their own feet and not the potential aid they could have in their own hands. African business leaders appear to know the solution with a trading network reaching all corners of the continent and beyond, but Africa’s political leaders are found wanting – yes, wanting a piece of that aid!
At times like these when we see Africa precariously slipping back to the depths of poverty, the call for a unified Africa is growing ever-stronger. The only way Africa can be taken seriously is for it to unite under one continental federation or fall into the generalised and endemic state of anarchy. The basis for a unified Africa is fundamentally sound, however, the greed and selfishness of Africa’s political leaders leaves this prospect a distant reality.
In order for the green shoots of emancipation to freely blossom, it is clear what Africa’s leaders must do. Europe united under the EU for economic reasons – the time has now come – Africa must irrevocably unite politically and economically for it to survive this global economic crisis. The African Union is wholly inadequate to the task. Let’s hope Africa’s leaders realise this before we face another 60 years of economic depravity in Africa.
The next G20 summit MUST be G21!
“Unite all people of African ancestry of the world to one great body to establish a country and absolute government of their own.”