The recently concluded Sino-Africa Summit aka Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa offers one major lesson: the need and significance for the reunification of Africa. Circumstantially, The cobbling together of African states whenever sponsors need them shows how the idea of reunifying Africa to the tune of pre-Berlin Conference is still relevant and important. China is not the first or the last power to call upon African rulers and deal with them in unison. The US, France and Turkey, among others, have already done the same.
What a shame for African countries with immense resources under their disposal to be summoned just like school prefects before the headmaster? It doesn’t cross mind for a country like Turkey –for instance –to summon African countries and promise them cheap aid?
In the 2009 Sino-summit in the Sham el Sheik Egypt, China promised a $10bn financial aid in concessional loans. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying, “We will help Africa build up financing capacity.” Jiabao however didn’t disclose how such help would work. Six years down the line, African economies have not rolled out plans that would enable them to build financial capacity. African rulers, however, are financially enabled, but they are not making any meaningful development thanks to their extravagance and poor policies of servicing a cabal of venal and corrupt politicians. Most African rulers deal with China and other donors just for their political interests as opposed to the interests of Africa.
In the just ended Summit, China didn’t fall short of promising the Shangri-Las. The BBC (4 December, 2015) reported that China announced $60bn (£40bn) of assistance and loans for Africa to help with the development of the continent. The BBC also quoted South African president Jacob Zuma saying, “China has become Africa’s largest trade partner, and Africa is now one of China's major import sources and fourth largest investment destination. This partnership can only yield further positive results for Africa's development.”
How much does Africa export to China in comparison to what Africa imports from China? Doing business with China will be good shall it benefit Africa. But looking at the floods of the Chinese in Africa, I doubt if there are some headways to be made from FOCAC. Is Africa prepared? I’d comfortably argue that when it comes to promising financial aid like this, Africa is treated as one entity. When it comes to paying back, every country goes solo with its politics of the tummy which is detrimental for Africa. How do you develop a divided Africa with a host of different priorities and policies? Again, this is not important for China that is interested in extracting resources and finding jobs for its jobless army.
On his side, the Chinese president was quoted as saying, “I couldn’t agree more with this statement and I am convinced that African countries and people are embracing a new era that is truly theirs.” Is this era Africa’s or China’s? How can it be Africa’s while Africa is entering such a relationship without unity of purpose or agenda? You can take this to the bank. Nothing was heard African as far as sound strategies are concerned so far. African countries were but recipients of promises without having any notable inputs into this new drive of developing Africa.
There are things African countries need to do. First, they need to stop complaining about colonialism and put in place structures of productivity and self-reliance. Secondly, African countries must blame themselves for not unifying Africa and degrading themselves. For example, economically, Turkey is at par or infancy stage just like many African countries. The UN report on GDP per capita based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) shows that Turkey had a purchasing power of 19,226.1 as of 2011-2015 compared to Gabon with 19,038.1.
Does Gabon need to be summoned by Turkey to receive lectures about development really? Equatorial Guinea with 30,583.4 is even better than turkey as far as purchasing power is concerned and so are Seychelles and Mauritius (Sources: World Development Indicators 2015). Does Africa really need to dress herself down by being sent for by even poor countries like Turkey? How powerful would Africa be if it were reunited to the tune of the pre-Berlin destruction? When will African leaders reunite Africa so that the continent can be at par with others? African leaders must stop their selfish interests and reunify Africa.
Source: African Executive magazine Dec., 9, 2015.