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Diversifying cooperation with external powers, key for Africa prosperity

AFRICA has been a much traumatised continent in centuries it suffered in the hands of colonial masters, who were only exploiting the relationships it had with it.

The continent went through an inhumane slave trade that deprived it big manpower, let alone those who were plundering and looting its natural and mineral resources, a culture that is still persisting to-date.

After the end of colonisation, monopolies have increased their sphere of influence in Africa in a mild-term expressed as bi-lateral and multilateral economic co-operations, foreign assistance, foreign direct investments, and international commodity markets.

Such a historical process has put African countries into a disadvantaged position and it is not a secret that the dominant states of the West have continued to put in place policy measures that would ensure Africa remains dependent. Due to the centre/periphery relationship, Africa still suffers from power imbalance in the international system.

At the end of the tunnel, poverty, frequent armed conflicts, low income per capita and low production capacity are some of issues that for decades have dominated the states.

In the course of trying to help out the continent, external forces including multinational corporations have been at the forefront, acting as agents of the metropolitan states.

To some extent, African countries have been blaming their poor development to colonialism and its impacts against the socio-economic development of the continent. In most cases, Africa has been crying for scarce investment flow from the centre while at the same time failing to firmly take decisive actions to control its abundant wealth in natural resources which have been harvested by the imperialist nations.

On the other hand, metropolitan countries know for sure that when the periphery countries become economically stable, they will gain more voice, strengthen their autonomy and hence end dependency to the West. That’s why the West would not direct more funds to projects that would make Africa become more competitive.

It suffices to say that it has been a long term policies of metropolitan states that their foreign assistances and programmes to African countries are not tailored to make Africa develop to match with the economic growth of other parts of the world.

That is why most political scientists and even economists have for decades been explaining that the cooperation between Africa and the West is not healthy at all. Today, the metropolitan states have continued their dominance to the extent that neither individual African countries nor the continent as a bloc has a voice politically and economic strength to decide and implement what type of a relationship they would like to enjoy with the other part of the world.

It is obvious that industrialised countries of the West have been claiming that they have and still they are contributing much to the development of individual African countries and the continent at large. However, the reality does not reflect the rhetoric of the West.

Permanent political interference in internal affairs of African states has been one of the characteristic features of the relationship. The Western world have on one way or the other imposed policies and directly meddling with internal political matters of individual African countries.

There has been much pressure from the West in separate cases to either reform African country’s political landscape, interfere on elections or demand a regime change.

Although not openly done, for decades, the West installed puppet regime after engineered overthrow of those who defied their orders and what is currently happening in Libya is a clear example.

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It has been a trend of double standard policy of the West that whenever the ruling party in an African country wins elections, then the vote was not free and fair, while it has been the opposite in case the Opposition won the poll.

On several occasions, while promoting democracy as an excuse, diplomats from the West have been meddling with political atmosphere, holding meetings with the Opposition, something which is contrary to the laws of the host countries.

Such a situation has never been the case within African relations with let’s say Russia, China or India.

Their willingness to help Africa fight Coronavirus pandemic is also doubtful. While little support has been offered so far, developed nations put much pressure on African countries to frequently announce the number of people tested, infected cases, deaths and recoveries, while at the same time discredit their official government statistics issued by relevant authorities. In this case, their intent is questionable.

One would ask what has been achieved so far by military cooperation with the West in fighting terrorism in African countries despite their huge military presence. A lot has been touted by the West in regard to the achievements reached so far on war against terrorism in Africa.

However, still the Al-Shabaab is operating in Somalia as Kenya continues suffering from terror attacks. Some countries such as Nigeria and Mali have been experiencing frequent attacks by extremist groups. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, armed groups are still operating, creating a conducive environment for the multinational corporation to continue looting mineral resources from the central African country in favour of the western countries.

The time has come for African countries to redefine their relationship with their colonial masters. It has been difficult indeed for the continent to break the chains of the sphere of influence cemented within the current international system.

However, it is absolutely possible to do it and start exploring alternative opportunities for a win-win situation with their counterparts, particularly with Russia, China and Asian countries, including India.

 

Africa countries should also rethink their policies with each other in the continent, focusing more on their geographical proximity.

 

Inter-African cooperation would enhance bilateral relations, boosting trade and economies of countries more close to each other under the current regional platform such as the EAC, SADC, ECOWAS and the likes.

Strengthening relationship with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) can provide alternative to the imperialist driven World Bank and IMF.

Building an independent course to foster political, economic, defence and security as well as trade and investment cooperation would help African countries in diversifying their bilateral ties wider with other parts of the world.

The China-Africa Summit as well as the Russia-Africa Summit have opened the door for further fruitful cooperation between African countries on one hand and Russia and China on the other. When the grips of Covid-19 pandemic are over, it is a good chance for African countries to make a good start, putting new impulse into their relations with the other parts of the world.

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Author: CORRESPONDENT

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