Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Assertive Africa? Brace for more



FOUR MONTHS AGO, when the African Union raised issues with the ICC, we asked whether Africa’s assertiveness can be ignored http://eaers.blogspot.com/2013/05/assertive-africa-can-it-be-ignored.html.  At that time we focused on economic causes for Africa’s confidence saying the world must take note.

Bujagali Hydro project in Uganda:
We ended our analysis with the question; who shall blink first, Africa or the West?  Following last week’s no nonsense AU summit where Africa gave the UNSC an ultimatum, the West has blinked first. Now western Diplomats are said to be drafting a resolution to be adopted by the UNSC adjourning the ICC trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and His deputy William Ruto for a year, subject to extension. 

In our analysis mentioned earlier, we advised the west to respect Africa’s new found boldness.  It seems like the west has finally realized that Africa has come of age and will brook no nonsense. It should brace for more of Africa’s fortitude. The continent has tasted blood and is baying for more and will stop at nothing.
 So how and why did Africa develop such confidence? Thanks to Europe’s inability to read the sign of the times. Its apathy towards Africa in the 1990s helped built the continent’s faith in its ability to solve its own problems. 

Picture this: In 1993, the UN sent a peace keeping force in Somalia. It was humiliated by the warlords there.  Two Black Hawk choppers were shot down and 18 servicemen killed.  The bodies of several soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. This led to a hasty withdrawal of UN peacekeepers. Somalia was left to its own devices. 

A year later, the UN took its sweet time to intervene in Rwanda. Hutu militias, supported by the government’s security forces massacred nearly a million people in a three- month period of murderous orgy- until the rebels then rebels arrived in Kigali sending the militia and the army fleeing into Congolese jungle. Since then, Rwanda has rebuild itself.

Back to Somalia. After years of lawlessness and refusal by the so-called international community to do something, Africa got tired. Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 and was humbled by the militias. Two years later, Ethiopia withdrew its forces, citing the heavy cost of keeping soldiers in Somalia.  Then followed Amisom which protected the then President of the Federal Transition Authority in Mogadishu. But al-shabaab, a terror group that was now in charge of terror in Somalia, was roaming the larger part of Somalia, including the sea port of Kismayu. From here Al-shabaab was breaching Kenya’s territorial integrity thus inviting Kenya’s big boots across the border into Somalia.  A year later, Al shabaab was all but annihilated. 

These small military, political and economic successes, coupled with decline of the West cumulatively built Africa’s confidence in itself. The growth of China as an economic power house also contributed to Africa’s self-esteem. Now the continent knows what it wants and sets out to get it.

On the economic front, Africa has transformed itself from a “hopeless Case” in the 1990s “a rising continent” in 2012.  Much of this transformation is largely home brewed: Africa tried things that worked for her. Among these is the end of internal wars and strife.  These resulted into a robust and persistent economic growth, now in its second decade. Owing to robust economic growth the per capita domestic revenue mobilization has risen to U$441 shrinking foreign aid to $41 per capita. The continent is lifting an estimated 15 million people out of poverty a year. This means that so far an estimated 90 million have been lifted out of poverty. At this rate of growth, an estimated 120 million people will join the middle class by 2017 and more will follow.

To sustain robust growth, Africa has identified its bottlenecks and prioritized their removal in a clearly defined development agenda. Consequently, it only deals with partners who fit in that agenda. Africa has learnt to choose the right friends and make the right policy-choices and implement them. Therefore economic growth in Africa is sure to be sustained. IT is now the potential growth pole in world.

A growth pole is a region whose growth drives the rate of growth elsewhere in the world. It is a position to be envied and honoured.  The business community everywhere in the world knows this and acts according to dictats of profit making.  The influx of large western multinational corporations into Africa is a clear indication of where the next dollar in profits will come from. 

Thika Super highway in Kenya: 

Only a fool would dare rub such a region the wrong way.  This is the reality Europhiles-those characters that constantly threaten us with sanctions from the West- must wake up to. The West played a major role in under developing Africa. Africa played a major role in developing Africa. Consequently Africa is in no mood to be taken back to Egypt. 

And politicians and bureaucrats in the west are coming to terms with this reality-much as they hate it.

 In fact from the economic standpoint the West is almost irrelevant in Africa. It is no longer the leading market for Africa Produce, nor is it a reliable donor. But Africa now needs a little aid and a lot of trade. And the largest market for Africa is Africa.

 If anyone followed the two-day visit by the French president, Francois Hollande, to South Africa Last week, then one would recognize Africa’s power. The president with his entourage were in South Africa to do business and French businessmen walked home with billions of euros worth of business contracts in the transport and energy infrastructure sectors. There are only four regional power houses in Africa Viz; South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. Egypt is in political turmoil that leaves only three. 

So After South Africa where will the French head next? Kenya, perhaps. Now do you expect the business community in the  US and UK, which have economic interests in Africa, to risk falling to a second position owing to some myth called values? Do values create jobs or generate economic growth? Tell me.

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