I read with relief on the ‘insight’ page of the Citizen on Saturday of 11th August 2012 the article titled “Will European Powers Underdevelop Africa Again?” by H.E. Benjamen William Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Mkapa wrote about the establishment and possible implementation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), a scheme to create a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The article sees EPAs as a possible strategy to ‘underdevelop’ Africa once again and is a sure new economic scramble for Africa.
I cannot agree more with the former head of state but further concede that when Africa moved from colonialism it encountered neocolonialism.
As the wave of independence swept across African countries in the late 1950s and early 1960s the move from colonialism to neo-colonialism became a calculated process to perpetuate exploitation. And today the relationship between the Third World and the West is much skewed to imperialism.
Like the Berlin Conference of 1884 which divided Africa among 13 European powers to rule and guaranteed them sources of raw materials and markets, today Africa is being balkanized in economic zones under a the global free economy concept. Indeed as H.E. Mkapa said in his article; EPAs spearheaded from Brussels are the modern-day equivalents of the Berlin Conference.
Globalization assumes an equal arena for economic development and in this way the world economic order does not assist Africa to grow economically.
Africa and the West are treated as equals in the free market economy. Building economy in African countries is heavily dependent on the West, who strives to keep the West as a centre of production and Africa as a market of goods, services and technology.
A country cannot manage to develop its economy without attracting substantive foreign direct investment (FDI) -- a prerequisite for building economy in Africa as most substantive capital markets are located in developed nations particularly Europe, USA and Australia. Technology is another economic gear unavailable in Africa and therefore one needs to partner with the west to build the economy.
World financial Institutions like the World Bank and IMF are at the heart of this skewed partnership and are poised to control the economic future of Africa.
The Development Partners push Africa into entering this unequal economic partnership, forgetting that Africa is so poor and disorganized. Africa first needs to build its economy and any assistance so needed must be directed into a beneficial win-win development partnership.
Over 75% of foreign aid is directed towards the provision of social services like education, health, environmental protection, water and sanitation and leaving the economic development activities with the remaining less than 25% of aid.
The economic development activities include; investment in infrastructure development like railways, roads, power, and dams; large scale economic investments in agriculture, mining, oil and gas, and tourism. The World Bank, IMF and Development Partners leave these economic investment development activities to the oppressive world investment system that Africa cannot compete.
In order for Africa to compete it needs assistance; its economic tribulation will continue if a new approach is not adapted -- an approach that gives Africa a fair play in the world economic order.
The West must play its role to assist African in building the economy; against the current situation where it does not assist Africa enough towards economic development instead it does a lot on humanitarian social services.
Probably to liberate itself Africa will need to emulate what China, North Korea, and Vietnam did; they refused to take western democratization and maintained authoritarian rules but engaged in economic reforms to upgrade their economies.
Countries in the Middle East like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Saud Arabia are other examples of successful developing economies.
These countries are doing better in the economic development and Africa must quickly learn from them. They are busy developing their economies under authoritarian regimes mostly under monarchies. I believe these countries after building strong economies will succeed in detaching themselves from this neocolonial dependence and finally build full democracies.
In my views, it does not matter how hard the West struggles to lubricate the relations with the Third World and especially Africa by whatever means; be aid, western styled democracy, human rights, the bilateral agreements; this relationship remains an imperialistic neocolonial relationship and a serious bane to Africa.
Globalization and the world economic order are a new way of colonization and Africa is in trouble. Its future seems to be dependent of what the West will bring. Europe and the USA hold the blunt end of the knife and Africa holds the sharp side to be cut any time it struggles.
When Muamar Gaddafi was killed in a revolution aided by the western military might (NATO); many African people reacted by praising that dictator who showed even an insignificant miniature fight against imperialism and neo-colonialism.
Gaddafi was a tyrant but many still mourn him on his positive side, he loved his country and made sure the people had every essential need.
On the political fate of Gaddafi the West showed its true colors on the desire to plunder natural resources from Africa. It is a terrible fact that imperialism is a big conspiracy that is aimed at keeping Africa dependent and a market for everything? It holds and eats Africa.
The Romans, Vikings, Greeks, Ottomans and other great Empires of old like the Atlantis came to an end; why not this imperial global dictatorship.
Some day Africa like China will sing “kumbayah” the song of triumph, when the imperialistic system will implode and leave Africa a winner. It shall come to pass and the African Union must be the seed for liberation by eroding the imbalanced West – Africa adhesion and strengthen the required political and socio-economic cohesion among the African countries.
Dr Dalaly Peter Kafumu, former Commissioner for Minerals and former MP for Igunga, is a Freelance Geologist