Africa should seize re­newed global in­ter­est for pros­per­ity

Mad dash for con­ti­nent presents op­por­tu­ni­ties we could tap for eco­nomic gains

Business Daily (Kenya) - - THE OUTLOOK - Ms Were is a de­vel­op­ment econ­o­mist. email:

Over the past few months, it has be­come clear that the world is mul­ti­po­lar and that Africa is seen as a key part­ner for all the di er­ent cen­tres of global power.

There has been a no­table shift in at­ten­tion from per­ceiv­ing Africa as a con­ti­nent of poverty and aid to one for trade and in­vest­ment.

The most talked about power is, of course, China which un­veiled a $60 bil­lion plan for eco­nomic en­gage­ment with Africa dur­ing the Fo­rum on China-africa Co­op­er­a­tion. Right along China is the US which is cre­at­ing the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion, an agency that can in­vest up to $60 bil­lion in the de­vel­op­ing world. Ac­cord­ing to the Fi­nan­cial

Times, the new agency will spear­head pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment through both debt and eq­uity deals, and make prof­its for Wash­ing­ton.

The Euro­pean Union (EU) is also on the money. Re­ports in­di­cate that it is propos­ing a new Africa-europe Al­liance for Sus­tain­able In­vest­ment and

Jobs in­volv­ing a 25 per cent hike in the EU Africa bud­get for 2021-27 to about €40 bil­lion.

Ja­pan will not be left be­hind. In 2016, Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe an­nounced that be­tween 2016 and 2018, it would in­vest $30 bil­lion in pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships in Africa.

Other coun­tries such as In­dia, Turkey, the United Arabs Emi­rates, Rus­sia and Brazil also have an eye on the con­ti­nent with their own Africa-fo­cused eco­nomic ini­tia­tives.

So the ques­tion is why the mad dash for Africa? Why now?

There are sev­eral fac­tors in-

form­ing this re­newed at­ten­tion, the first of which is China.

Africa would ar­guably, not be get­ting such de­ter­mined at­ten­tion par­tic­u­larly from Europe and North Amer­ica, if China had not made such sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic in­roads into the con­ti­nent. Old pow­ers fear los­ing Africa to China, and have been forced to re­assess their at­ti­tude to­wards Africa and make them­selves rel­e­vant again.

A se­cond fac­tor is the frac­tur­ing of the Western al­liance be­tween Europe and North Amer­ica — an al­liance that has been the core of in­ter­na­tional

power and in­flu­ence since the Cold War. The UK is break­ing away from the EU via Brexit, and the US is con­tem­plat­ing putting sanc­tions on the EU and Canada, and mov­ing away from NATO.

Go­ing for­ward it seems that a re­la­tion­ship that was once de­fined by co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion will be in­creas­ingly de­fined by com­pe­ti­tion.

Theresa May hinted at this shift when she stated that she wanted the UK to over­take the US and be­come the G7's big­gest in­vestor in Africa by 2022.

Thirdly, Africa has a new gen­er­a­tion of in­di­vid­u­als who are more ed­u­cated than ever be­fore, want pros­per­ity at home, and have an en­tre­pre­neur­ial am­bi­tion and abil­ity the con­ti­nent has never seen.

Africans are ap­proach­ing in­vestors, mak­ing busi­ness deals with play­ers all over the world and prov­ing not only that no one knows Africa like Africans, but that there is money to be made here.

Lastly, the world seems to fi­nally un­der­stand that it is bet­ter for ev­ery­one when Africa is do­ing well.

Whether this new fo­cus is in­formed by an at­tempt to stem the flow of im­mi­grants into Europe, or in re­sponse to sen­ti­ments of eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism where publics have grown tired of send­ing bil­lions to Africa and get­ting ‘noth­ing in re­turn’, the im­pe­tus to fo­cus on Africa’s eco­nomic po­ten­tial is real.

The ques­tion now is: How does Africa lever­age this re­newed in­ter­est in the con­ti­nent? How does Africa use the mul­ti­ple of­fers to its ad­van­tage? We do not know when the world will next be so keen on Africa, we have to seize the op­por­tu­nity at hand.

Old pow­ers fear los­ing Africa to China, and have been forced to re­assess their at­ti­tude to­wards Africa


IN­VEST­MENT Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping with South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa (left) and Sene­galese Pres­i­dent Macky Sall dur­ing the Fo­rum on China-africa Co-op­er­a­tion in Bei­jing last month.

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