Africa in the Trump era

CityPress - - Voices -

Over these two months lead­ing up to US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump tak­ing of­fice, the world will be in limbo re­gard­ing what diplo­matic re­la­tions it will have with the su­per­power.

Trump made re­peated ut­ter­ances on his cam­paign trail about look­ing in­ward to “Make Amer­ica great again”. These have done noth­ing to as­suage the fears of most na­tions about what to ex­pect when he is of­fi­cially in­au­gu­rated as pres­i­dent on Jan­uary 20 2017.

Africa has ben­e­fited greatly from the in­tro­duc­tion of the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act, pro­mul­gated back in 2000 to give African coun­tries eas­ier ac­cess to US mar­kets by scrap­ping im­port du­ties on cer­tain goods.

The leg­is­la­tion, which has since been re­newed to 2025, has sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced mar­ket ac­cess to the US for qual­i­fy­ing sub-Sa­ha­ran African coun­tries.

While there is un­cer­tainty, the world as­sumes that Trump will use a pro­tec­tion­ist strat­egy to safe­guard the in­ter­ests of Amer­i­cans and that he may im­pose high taxes on im­ports, and even re­duce aid to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Such moves would hurt Africa since the poor­est of the poor coun­tries rely on the West to pro­vide for their cit­i­zens.

We will not know what will hap­pen un­til Trump an­nounces his plans, but this un­cer­tainty could pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for Africa to come to­gether and find so­lu­tions to ben­e­fit the con­ti­nent.

A start­ing point will be for the re­gional pow­er­houses – South Africa, Kenya, Nige­ria and Egypt – to pro­vide solid lead­er­ship to en­sure that the rule of law ap­plies across all 55 states.

And Africa should go as one to de­mand its per­ma­nent seat on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and a mean­ing­ful voice in the af­fairs of the G20.

The African Union should be em­pow­ered to en­sure that democ­racy pre­vails over dic­ta­tor­ships and lead­ers who con­tinue to re­main in of­fice against the will of the peo­ple are side­lined on con­ti­nen­tal de­vel­op­ment goals. Sound eco­nomic growth poli­cies should be put in place and mon­i­tored to en­sure their im­ple­men­ta­tion.

There must be con­certed ef­forts to boost in­tra-Africa trade. And once the con­ti­nent is in con­cord, Africa can then en­gage with the rest of the world as a united front rather than hav­ing states push their in­di­vid­ual needs. The Trump era de­mands the great­est level of unity and com­mon pur­pose.

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