The economist: The new scramble for Africa, and how africans could win it

Oct 9, 2018

The cover page of The Economist, 9th March 2019.

There are two articles speaking about the prospects of African development in relation to foreign direct investment and international trade. Tanzania is mentioned almost two times, as one among theatres of foreign competition in Africa: While Kenya a Gold Standard of African leadership, keeping up with the Joneses of western liberal standards.

The theme of the article is perched up to what the mainstream intellectuals often refer to as the New African Strategy. I do not agree with everything the author had to say about Africa, but by far the two articles have tried to strike a balance between a narrow Eurocentric understanding of African politics and Afrocentric-Marxist Stereotypes in order to create a common ground for positive dialogue.

A pragmatic approach supported by an enormous use of scientific data by the authors has rendered the work objective, leaving a narrow room for criticism which i believe will be a positive one. Unlike many previous publications from the same, I haven't seen much African leaders or countries being unnecessarily castigated or the usual norm of China Bashing by floating lackadaisical accusations of Chinese Debt Trap or Chinese Imperialism. Now here are some few extracts:

The New African Strategy.
-The authors envision what African states ought to do alongside their trading partners in fostering African economic development. Unlike many liberal writers, this New African Strategy is based on a partnership framework which involves the aforementioned players cultivating and reaping economic benefits together.

The authors also mention the Trump's Administration New African Strategy as outlined by John Bolton on 13th December 2018 as being solitary, chauvinistic, bellicose and hellbent on achieving Zero-Sum results: For the authors such unilateral strategy is short-sighted because it does not appreciate the dynamics of African economic development and its effects on the entire world in a future that's not too distant .

African Diplomatic Boom.
- The authors demonstrate a Research with tremendous revelations which tell us that from 2010 up until 2016 foreign nations opened up 320 embassies and consulates all across Africa with China heading the list with 52 embassies, followed by America and France with 49 and 47 embassies respectively. What does this tell us? Something good is about to happen in Africa so long as we steer our boat in the right direction. Diplomatic Boom may lead to the expansion of trade and increased trading options.

Expansion of trade and Increased trading options.
- The authors gave a wonderful analogy that in 2006 America, France and China were Africa's largest trading partners. But within a decade the status quo drastically changed, until 2018 China was Africa's largest trading partner with merchandise totaling 120 US dollars, followed by India with merchandise totaling 58 US dollars while America held the third position with merchandise totaling 36 US dollars. What does this mean for Africa?

We can now choose a trade partner without being unnecessarily bullied or restricted by some powerful players who sought to have complete monopoly over African trade, as it was evident two decades ago. Conversely, expansion in trade and increased options means expansion in corruption, shady deals, and despotism if Africans fail to heave forth great resolve by demanding transparency in investment deals and installing democratic regimes.

Collective Bargaining and Balance of Arms
- Understanding a major setback than Africa is a continent and not a country, the authors proposed that when making trade deals African states should do it collectively. Regional Economic Blocks such as ECOWAS and EAC should act as bulwarks to forestall monopoly in trade deals: The stakes are always high if a single African country embarks into negotiations with powerful players like China, The European Union or America who have money resources and experienced people.

The likelihood of unbalanced arms in negotiations is obvious: And eventually, the African states may seem to get a good deal, yet in a long run such deals may evolve into an awful specter that haunts an entire generation. Acacia/Barrick is living proof of this.

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