Self-re­liance is Africa’s way to re­nais­sance

CityPress - - Voices - Eddy Maloka

TALK TO US With so many nat­u­ral re­sources, why is a rise to eco­nomic power still so elu­sive for most of Africa?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word AFRICA. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 ex­pres­sion: “African so­lu­tions for African prob­lems”.

When we think “self-re­liance” we re­mem­ber the Tan­za­nian “Uja­maa” ide­ol­ogy led by Julius Ny­erere, whose ob­jec­tive was to build a na­tion on “African So­cial­ist” prin­ci­ples that was not de­pen­dent on for­eign aid.

Self-re­liance should not be con­fused with “de-link­ing” - a con­cept aired by de­pen­dency the­o­rists, par­tic­u­larly Samir Amin, as a so­lu­tion to the de­pen­dent in­te­gra­tion of Africa into a world sys­tem dom­i­nated by the de­vel­oped North.

It gained promi­nence in the 1970s, cul­mi­nat­ing in the La­gos Plan of Ac­tion of 1980 – a de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme of the OAU to cre­ate an African Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity and even­tu­ally a po­lit­i­cal union. The La­gos Plan was re­fined fur­ther in the 1991 Abuja Treaty – es­tab­lish­ing the African Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity - which was more elab­o­rate in de­tail­ing the stages to be fol­lowed to­wards that goal.

Both the La­gos Plan and Abuja Treaty were founded on “col­lec­tive self-re­liance” and “self-sus­tain­ing” de­vel­op­ment phi­los­o­phy, in­stead of de­pen­dency. “Col­lec­tive” em­pha­sis was due to a Pan-African drive for all coun­tries to work to­gether; not to be iso­lated in a com­fort zone of sovereignty.

The La­gos Plan opened its pream­ble with a dec­la­ra­tion: “Africa is un­able to point to any sig­nif­i­cant growth rate or sat­is­fac­tory in­dex of gen­eral well­be­ing, in the past 20 years. Faced with this sit­u­a­tion and de­ter­mined to un­der­take mea­sures for the ba­sic re­struc­tur­ing of the eco­nomic base of our con­ti­nent, we re­solved to adopt a far-reach­ing re­gional ap­proach based pri­mar­ily on col­lec­tive self-re­liance.”

A decade later, the Abuja Treaty was as de­ter­mined in set­ting out ob­jec­tives, in­ter alia, to: “pro­mote eco­nomic, so­cial and cul­tural de­vel­op­ment and the in­te­gra­tion of African economies, in or­der to in­crease eco­nomic sel­f­re­liance and pro­mote self-sus­tained de­vel­op­ment” – and “es­tab­lish on a con­ti­nen­tal scale, a frame­work for the de­vel­op­ment, mo­bil­i­sa­tion and util­i­sa­tion of Africa’s hu­man and ma­te­rial re­sources, to achieve self-re­liant de­vel­op­ment.”

The em­pha­sis was on re­duc­ing de­pen­dency on for­eign aid; and in the case of the La­gos Plan and the Abuja Treaty, on build­ing “Re­gional Eco­nomic Com­mu­ni­ties” (RECs), which are now in ex­is­tence in all the five re­gions of the AU.

Here, we have suc­ceeded. All RECs are fully op­er­a­tional, ex­cept in North Africa. But this suc­cess has led to their pro­lif­er­a­tion, to the ex­tent that the chal­lenge to­day is to ra­tio­nalise them, and en­sure they are not stand-alone bod­ies, each work­ing in iso­la­tion – but that they are well har­monised and co­or­di­nated with the broad AU agenda.

For­eign aid is still an is­sue, as is Africa’s ex­ter­nal part­ner re­la­tions. The aim has been to try to man­age these re­la­tions so that Africa con­trols and owns its pro­cesses and out­comes.

Such ef­forts have fo­cused on three as­pects. First, try to re­duce AU de­pen­dency on for­eign fund­ing through a tar­get of cov­er­ing 100% of the AU’s op­er­a­tional bud­get from own African fi­nan­cial sources – 75% for pro­grammes and 25% for peace and se­cu­rity. A high-level rep­re­sen­ta­tive on fi­nanc­ing the union has since been ap­pointed: Don­ald Kaberuka.

Se­condly, the AU has been try­ing to re­or­gan­ise its in­ter­nal busi­ness – es­pe­cially the struc­ture of its sum­mits – to fo­cus more on strate­gic is­sues and limit the in­flu­ence of the over­whelm­ing pres­ence of ex­ter­nal part­ners at AU meet­ings.

The third fo­cus has been re­form­ing the AU it­self to en­able the body to carry out its man­date more ef­fec­tively. Rwanda’s Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame was given that task. He pre­sented a pro­pos­als pack­age at the Jan­uary 2017 Sum­mit, which are now be­ing im­ple­mented. It in­cludes re­forms aimed at re­con­fig­ur­ing the part­ner­ships that Africa has with a num­ber of coun­tries all over the world; to in­crease Africa’s lever­age.

Peace and se­cu­rity were less of an is­sue in the 1980s La­gos Plan-era than to­day. Dis­pro­por­tion­ate de­pen­dence of Africa on ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity part­ners is wor­ry­ing; it’s not just lim­ited to fund­ing. The con­ti­nent now recog­nises it must take the lead in solv­ing its prob­lems, in­clud­ing rapid re­sponse to cri­sis sit­u­a­tions – to dis­cour­age for­eign mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Africa, which in some cases re­sulted in regime change.

The African Ca­pac­ity for Im­me­di­ate Re­sponse to Crises is the in­terim mech­a­nism we have created for this pur­pose, be­fore our African Standby Force is op­er­a­tional.

Maloka is CEO of the African Peer Re­view Mech­a­nism

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