The New Scramble For Africa: Will Africa Join For Dinner Or Be Eaten

“Africa is a paradox which illustrates and highlights neo-colonialism. Her earth is rich, yet the products that come from above and below the soil continue to enrich, not Africans predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa’s impoverishment”- Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Between July and August, the Chinese President, Indian Prime Minister, German Chancellor, British Prime Minister, the French President and many more have been traversing Africa in desperate search for economic interest. The new race for Africa is not surprising for global economic watchers but Africa and our leaders must be cautiously optimistic.

Just this week the Chinese President hosted African Heads of State in Beijing, where he pledged 60billion dollars of additional loan funding for development in African States, the India State hosted African Presidents earlier promising massive economic and technological cooperation with African States. Interestingly the British Prime Minister earlier in South Africa committed some 5billion towards business in Africa and Belgium is busy setting the political chess table in DR Congo.

China, Russia, India have never colonized Africa but we begin to see economic footprints that seem to stimulate competition from the west. I had the opportunity of attending the Commonwealth Heads of Governments meeting (CHOGM) in London this year, under the theme “OUR COMMON FUTURE” curiously this theme preceded the Brexit, for those that are curious about the Geo-political intricacies can read between the lines.

I wonder were our “common future” was before Brexit. While big brother America led by battle hungry Trump is busy making America great again by messing up global trade, upsetting strategic allies and trigger-happy about trade wars with china and Canada, Asia and Europe are busy strategizing on how to put Africa on the dinner table. African Presidents on the other hand are feeling important and excited with the new attention they are receiving, I just hope they are strategizing on how to sit round the dinner table and not strategically cooperating to put Africa on the dinner table to be eaten.

Very recently the French President assembled its formal colonies at the Élysée Palace after touring West Africa, a nagging question that remains is how independent is the “francophone” Africa.

Neo-colonialism is real but if Africa is not careful we will be colonized again, this time willingly

“The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo- colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and poor countries of the world”- Kwame Nkrumah.

I believe as a continent, our immediate priority should be how to trigger an industrial revolution based on our rich natural resources, harness technological advancement and take advantage of our human resource capital to harness our demographic dividends.

African leaders must focus on building self-reliant, stable and resilient societies capable of exploiting and harnessing the vast natural resources scattered across Africa. While we must relish the frenzy and new attention on Africa, we must focus efforts on preventing neo-colonial exploitation of the continent. China, India and Europe could be strategic partners but we must reckon their priority, the national interest of their respective states. Our leaders must think business as a standard to define our relationship.

African leaders must not go to the discussion table celebrating imperialism and its tendencies, we must begin to engage as independent and sovereign states.

One of the biggest challenge with our leadership is the mentality of being subservient to former colonizers, the proclivity of accepting bad deals and not confident enough to negotiate in the interest of the African people. The liberation of the mind is crucial. We cannot win with leaders that are willing to trade of their people or engage with a defeatist psychology, the Africa we want cannot happen with a corrupt mindset of low self-esteem. The spirit of Pan-Africanism should guide member states, it’s the source of our strength.

The Africa we want, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA), Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) and the AU agenda 2063 can only be achieve if we engage as a collective and stand in solidarity as Africa. African states must synchronize our efforts to challenge the status quo of global trade bias, disparities and imbalances.

African leaders must be cautiously optimistic of the economic partnerships offered by China, European Union and America, most of them are Trojan horses meant to smuggle former colonizers and neo-colonialist into Africa. They are booby-traps designed to enslave and recolonize Africa. Our history as a continent should prepare and reposition us not as ideologues or skeptics but as a continent that has learnt from its past and willing to engage as equal parties for socioeconomic growth and progress.

We must draw inspiration and wisdom from Kwame Nkrumah’s statement, “For centuries, Europeans dominated the African continent. The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to “civilize” Africa. Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people”

We must not be defined by history as a group of unintelligent idiots evolving into the arena of civility and intelligence whose history thought them nothing.

Let us continuously remind ourselves of the perverse history of colonialism, slave trade, economic exploitation and cruel trade imbalances certain global powers left and continue to leave in Africa.

Let the thought of neo-colonialism scare us to do right and just unto ourselves. Let Africa remind itself of the tragedy of structural Adjustment policies (SAP) introduced by IMF and the World Bank.

Africa cannot be oblivious of the world order that has been designed and established to deny us breakthrough and tried to subject us to poverty in perpetuity. Let us keep reminding ourselves of the economic atrocities and injustices perpetuated against Africa, we can forgive but cannot forget and be fooled again. “If you are open-minded and ready to learn, there are many things which you can learn not only from books and instructors but from the very life experience itself” – Haile Selassie

Our leaders must inspire hope for the continent, they must be willing to make tough choices, which includes fighting their greed and desperation to accumulate individual wealth. Leaders must show far more patriotism and love for Africa, that is the only way they can guarantee meaningful engagements and negotiations that inspire hope for the continent.

“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be” -Barack Obama

We can make Africa the next economic power house and the new frontier for hope, welfare and technological advancement for the good of humanity.

BENING AHMED
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
PAN AFRICAN YOUTH UNION
KHARTOUM