Leaders or representatives of China, 48 African countries and the African Union Commission attended the two-day summit, focusing on "friendship, peace, cooperation and development", the Chinese Peoples Daily announced at the time. This was a bold and historic initiative for Africa and China. The African and Chinese leaders sat as equals around China’s giant round table. China wants what Africa has and Africa wants what China can offer in fair exchange.
Like China, however, African leaders are aware that nations have permanent interests and not necessarily permanent friends. The West is aware of this. Given China’s powerful and successful historical relationships with Africa, we may well remind ourselves again and again, of that adage. If the West is not prepared to compete and offer realistic and fair prices for Africa’s commodities, the market might well leave her behind or be relegated to secondary traders.
China’s current growth rate would suggest that she was capable of purchasing more of Africa’s commodities in the foreseeable future. For better economies of scale, factories must be built near to the raw materials in African, rather than to incur transport costs, by shipping them to China. China needs to increase her building of skilled work force in Africa and expand manufacturing industries, partly owned by China and partly by Africans. Vast investments are required in African educations to meet future challenges of African industrialisation. If, and when this came about, China would have become a formidable supper power, with very strong African allies, against which the West might find it difficult to compete.
There is currently no observed sign of China having imperial designs on Africa. Despite the dangers of a new imperialism, however, China might still provide an opportunity for Africa which Europe and the USA have simply failed to deliver.
China Injects Economic life in Africa
In a recent article by Dr Paul Moorcraft, director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis, London, wrote: “After more than a trillion dollars of western aid, many African citizens are poorer than ever. Western governments tried to impose good governance by lending or giving money with strings attached. But donors need to recognise that they cannot ‘buy’ policies with their own money and expect African governments to ‘own’ these same policies, which are imposed on them, and which often don’t work (although they can — sometimes — at the very local, ‘African-owned’ level).”
China’s trade with Africa has risen four-fold in the past four years. It is now said to be $40bn.
China has overtaken the UK to become Africa’s third most important trading partner, after the US and France. Because its oil needs are expected to double in 15 years, China has invested in particular in Sudan, Angola and Nigeria. It is also investing in forestry in Equatorial Guinea, mining in Zambia and construction in Botswana, for example.
Dr. Moorcroft continued: “China involved itself in Africa for ideological reasons in the 1960s and 1970s and helped with large-scale projects. The Tan-Zam railway is perhaps the best example. But this time the motivation is primarily about business, not politics. Some western experts argue that the Chinese are now ‘voracious capitalists’, who are generating a new scramble for Africa.”
An indication of the importance China has placed on her trading partnerships with Africa is perhaps demonstrated by the Chinese Leader, President Hu Jin Tao, twelve day official visit during 30 January 2007 and 11 February 2007, to seven African nations, which included Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles.
China may be pushing its Africa policy hard, but African leaders, increasingly scornful of western conditionality, are welcoming the far less judgmental Chinese way of doing business.
Western Powers Handicapped
The West is handicapped, by its current pre-occupation with “War on Terrorism”, which might go on for “another thirty to forty years”. Some say a “hundred years”. Those nations who are engaged in this type of war, might see much of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) drained away, fighting such a war with insignificant effects.
Britain, one of the front line leaders on the ‘war on terror’, current Defence spending is 2.5% of her GDP. In 2004, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a £3.7 billion increase to the defense budget, for the following three years, an average annual growth of 1.4%. That budget included Britain’s contribution to “The War on Terrorism”.
The United States of America (USA), the principal leader of the “War on Terrorism”, has a “defense budget of US$439.3 billion — a 7-percent increase over 2006 and a 48-percent increase over 2001— to maintain a high level of military readiness, develop and procure new weapon systems to ensure U.S. battlefield superiority, and support our service members and their families;” stated the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on its website.
The OMB continued: “an extra requests for US$50 billion in 2007 bridge funding to support the military’s Global War on Terror efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq into 2007; Expands the Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle force from 12 to 21 orbits, each supporting 3-4 aircraft, to increase sustained 24-hour surveillance capabilities: increases substantially the size and capabilities of the Special Operations Command; adds US$173.3 million to continue developing and refining a New Triad of smaller nuclear forces, enhanced missile defenses, and improved command and control; provides an additional 2.2percent increase in basic pay”.
There is, however, a fundamental weakness in all this ‘big budget and big spending’, as there is currently a dangerous Federal deficit.
Financial costs of the ‘War on Terror’
US Federal spending has reached US$22,000 per household, in constant dollars, for the first time since World War II. “Discretionary” spending voted on each year by Congress has jumped 49 percent in just three years, and entitlement spending nears 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for the first time ever. Furthermore, the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers will put an enormous strain on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and sharply increase spending.
Dr. Brian M. Ried, USA Heritage Foundation researchers, wrote - “It is imperative for lawmakers to get the nation’s finances in order immediately by restructuring entitlement programs and reducing federal spending. Putting off the difficult decisions until the federal budget’s condition deteriorates further will result in much harsher and more expensive policy choices.”
The United States public debt, commonly called the national debt, gross federal debt or U.S. government debt, is the amount of money owed by the United States federal government to creditors who hold US Debt Instruments. As of the end of 2006, the total U.S. public debt was US$4.9 trillion. This does not include the money owed by states, corporations, or individuals, nor does it include the money owed to Social Security beneficiaries in the future. If intra-government debt obligations are included, the debt figure rises to US$8.6 trillion. In 2005 the public debt was 64.7% of GDP. According to the CIA's World Fact book, this meant that the U.S. public debt was the 35th largest in the world by percentage of GDP. In absolute value, it is easily the largest; this is according to the SUMMARY OF TREASURY SECURITIES OUTSTANDING, 31 DECEMBER 2006 and The World Fact book published by the CIA.
It is important to differentiate between public debt and external debt. The former is the amount owed by the government to its creditors, whether they are nationals or foreigners. The latter is the debt of all sectors of the economy (public and private), owed to foreigners. In the U.S., foreign ownership of the public debt is a significant part of the nation's external debt. The Bureau of the Public Debt, a division of the United States Treasury Department, calculates the amount of money owed by the national government on a daily basis.
According to Dr. James Jay Carafano, another researcher from the USA Heritage Foundation, “if the United States is to prosecute the global war on terrorism effectively, it will need unprecedented integration of its military, intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic, and other national security instruments.”
The billions being spent on this ‘war’ could have gone towards sustainable economic development and the provision of higher standards of living for citizens. It has become increasingly difficulty to tell who is a ‘freedom fighter’ and who is a ‘terrorist’, whether they may be individuals, states or militia. Methods employed to achieving their individual objectives seem similar, at the cost of local civilian population.
Africa and Africans have a long way to go
While Africa is now showing signs of progress, there is yet a very long way to go before the average African at home and in the Diaspora will start gaining benefits from Africa’s ‘new’ wealth.
Many Africans still believe that there is currently a problem of governance among some contemporary African states and associated national administrations.
According to the South Sudan United Democratic Alliance (SSUDA), one of Sudan’s former resistance groups, now brought into the CPA provisions, the problem of “Governance began with the existence of humanity,’’ which is not peculiar to African nations.
“In the long search for a solution, sustainability and a system that could ensure prosperity, many forms of government systems have been tried and failed, unfortunately,” said SSUD in a December 2006 press release.
SSUD continued “Until the concept of democracy, though not the best political system, there is no system to replace it, on the face of this planet-Earth… It naturally assumed to be the only durable form of governance or mechanism in dealing with human nature. But totalitarianism and colonialism have resisted democratic reforms. Thus, the modern world has been pitted against itself by two schools of thoughts, namely, ‘capitalism against communism and totalitarianism against democracy and then many other factors have complicated the situation.”
SSUD believes that Africa, “our Motherland is faced with irreconcilable extreme political and ethnic dilemmas; underdevelopment; backwardness; diseases; hunger; abject poverty; and misery.” SSUD’s goal is “to dedicate itself to absolute elimination of all forms of oppression, social injustice, social discrimination, ethnocentric hegemonic tendencies and the domination of one group by another.”
SSUDA is transforming itself from a resistance/militia organisation to a political party for the 2011 general election, when the current Sudanese Administration must seek a new democratic mandate from the Sudanese people, in accord with the CPA.
New Progressive African Leadership
The leadership of SSUD is among the new progressive African thinkers, which are presenting a new face of African politics. These new leadership organisations are adopting policies, “which encourage the implantation and development of the seeds of good governance, democratization, rule of law, cultural diversity, human rights protection, fiscal responsibility, accountability, civil society, transparency, and equality, through dialogue within a culture of peace.”
Harold McMillan (1894-1986), the British Prime Minister, on 3rd February 1960, said in South African Parliament, that there was a “wind of change blowing through Africa.” This was being said at a time when African nations were suing for independence and self-determination, from colonial and imperialistic powers, through peaceful and revolutionary means.
The text of Prime Minister McMillan speech:
The "Wind of Change" speech
“The wind of change is blowing through this continent and, whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it. ... As I see it, the great issue in this second half of the twentieth century is whether the uncommitted peoples of Asia and Africa will swing to the East or to the West. Will they be drawn into the Communist camp? Or will the great experiments of self-government that are now being made in Asia and Africa, especially within the Commonwealth, prove so successful, and by their example so compelling, that the balance will come down in favour of freedom and order and justice?
- Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, 3 February 1960;
to the South African Parliament, Cape Town.
Things have changed substantially in Africa and her Diaspora since the 1960. There is a ‘fierce hurricane’ of change rushing through Africa and African politics, at home and abroad. The people on the Continent have made their military statements, mostly during the 1960s and are now subsiding in our current time. Africans at home and abroad are settling down, engaging in processes, for making powerful economic and technological statements, for wealth creations, in order that the ordinary Africans might gain higher standards of living and climb out of poverty. As much as Africa and Africans at home and abroad, had thrown off past slavery, colonisation and imperialistic shackles, the same energies are being used to develop cultures, which will produce positive and earth rendering effects on future African developments.
Ras Messenger, of the Ethiopian World Federation Incorporated (EWF), part of the Rasta Movement said: “Lack of a stable Continent, lack of collective defensive security (land, sea and air, etc); lack of collective research/training and development, lack of common economic policies, etc, have left the door ajar for opportunities for other nations to continue to plunder and rape Afrika of its resources, (human & material). Afrika is divided and balkanised, through religious, linguistic, cultural, even in the states themselves, and so time and effort are continually wasted with wars and rumours of wars, famine and disease, nepotism, corruptions, etc, and so the elitists continue unabated.”
Ras continued - “The AU cannot function due to non investments in the continent’s infrastructure. All the things which the OAU said were needed to be implemented, the AU, its successor, cannot even start to do its work in earnest, due to ideological barriers. Afrikan must unite - ONE PRESIDENT or whatever name; One Foreign Minister; One Finance Minister; One Defence Minister; One Foreign Minister, etc. Establish all departments required by Nation building –Economic; Education and Training; Research; Development; Young people; Elderly; Women’s Ministries, etc. THE GREAT Marcus Garvey stated 'In a world of wolves one must go armed, and one of the most positive weapons at our disposal is that of 'race' FIRST practiced in all parts of the World’''
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