Africa in the Trump era
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.