US strategy with misplaced priorities won’t fool African people
Published: Dec 21, 2022 07:24 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Africa is a continent that is greatly blessed with many advantages. It is rich in natural resources including oil, natural gas, minerals, wildlife, forests, water and of course arable land. This has influenced the continent toward the belief it can shape the future of the world, and hence, has witnessed cooperation with major global economies like China, the US and other Western countries. 

China-Africa relations are focused on political, economic, military, cultural, social and historical connections between the African continent and the Chinese mainland. But this continually growing relationship has been a point of concern to the old major economies, including the West and the US, which have been looking for strategies to retard or disrupt these relations.

The US recently decided to take a bold step toward trying to undermine these relations by inviting African Leaders to a US-Africa Leaders Summit that was recently held in Washington DC between December 13 and 15. Based on Africa's strengths and global beliefs that Africa is poised to shape the future of the world, the US coined the summit's theme as, "Africa's Success is the World's Success." This theme could be interpreted differently by many critics; however, it could simply imply that the US has come to terms with the reality that Africa as a continent also matters globally and hence should be engaged as equal partners. The summit's agenda was to enhance strengthening relations between the US and African States as equal partners based on mutual respect and shared interests and values. The US intended to understand key areas Africa defines as critical to the continent's future as well as the global community as a whole. Indeed, it looks quite in order and welcome. However, the irony is this wasn't propelled by sincerity.

The US and other major economies have come to believe that China is taking over the world. They are worried of being dislodged as global economic power houses, and have hence decided to act. Historically, the West colonized Africa and divided it into the current state system based on their selfish interests. They never looked at Africa as a partner, but a source of resources and production at the continents expense. This is still being witnessed throughout the continent especially in countries with rich natural resources where stability is a thing of the past. What has the West and US have done is give a deaf ear on the pretext that they cannot interfere with internal affairs of a sovereign state. Not surprisingly, the US has played a key role is destabilizing democratic governments which do not toe its line through unfair means. The latest means being the US President pledging $55 billion toward human rights, democratization, LGBT rights, women empowerment, youth empowerment and capacity building. Does this reflect Africa's priorities? Africa is a continent with values impended in their traditions and religion. More so, the US's prioritized acts will only imply that 95 percent of the pledged funds will end up in the Americans' hands, with little or no value addition to Africans.

It should be noted without contradiction that Africa's priorities include attaining mutual diplomatic relations, mutual economic ties, communication and infrastructure development, aids and loans, healthcare, agriculture, military and intelligence, peace, culture etc. These interests will spur development and assist Africa to move away from continuous grants and technology transfers being channeled by the US and the West. Most of Africa's developmental partners' trading is skewed to their advantage, while these partners portray themselves as helping Africa to invest sustainably so that it produces for themselves and the world. 

Africa needs true friendship and relations, where engagements are mutually beneficial to all parties as witnessed in the Sino-African relationship, where planning and working is mutual between stakeholders. It needs to move away from the current debt crisis that is threatening its progress: This can be achieved through effective utilization of its natural wealth to reap the social and economic benefits inherent in them. Therefore, Africa's sustainable development requires an effective translation of its natural resources decisions and statements into practical actions and innovative solutions at all levels; local, national and regional to benefit its populations. This will translate into creating wealth and employment as well as generating revenue to states, enhance food security, ensure social equity, and improve livelihoods. 

Otherwise, if Africa relies on the US to assist them with their debt crisis, which is mainly in their currency, implying that it is beneficial to their economy directly or indirectly, the continent will forever remain indebted to the US and other major economies. For example, owing foreign debt in US currency means that repayment will require selling goods required by the US so that you get this currency. This has been witnessed in the promotion of Genetically Modified Food Crops (GMOs) which is not within the African context since with peace, proper climate and inputs, Africa can enable food security as it used to. Furthermore, this has tainted the reputation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which normally provide loans in US currency implying they serve American interests and not as depicted by their names.

Hence, the theme of this article, "Who is Fooling Who".

The author is former Somali Ambassador to China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn