What has the US learned and what does Africa need to do? | Daily News Byte


Author: Jones N. Williams

This criticism is not about what happened during the recent US-Africa summit; it is about what the United States has learned or should learn and what Africa or African countries should do next after the well-publicized recent summit in Washington, DC

No one can say for sure what the US learned or will learn after the recent summit, and no one can predict with certainty what African nations will do in light of the recent summit. We will know these answers from the actions of both the US and African nations in the future.

This aside, it is fair to say that the US-Africa relationship needs a fundamental change in substance, orientation, approach and depth if the US is to seek to reduce the prostitution of African nations in terms of global ideological and diplomatic alignments.

The fact is that Yesterday’s Africa was a young, beautiful bride swallowed up by ignorance, unbridled trust, grounded loyalty and blind tolerance in a disconnected world. Today’s Africa is a young, beautiful bride with a pronounced intelligence, undisturbed mistrust, justified infidelity of global alignment and discerning intolerance in a well-connected global village. Previous Africa was never a challenge to and for the west.

The biggest challenge for the West and the US is today’s Africa. How the US and the West manage and deal with this challenge will decide and determine the balance of global power between China and its allies on the one hand and the US and its allies on the other.

Driven by the economic dominance of China’s growth and emerging capacity, China and Russia are consolidating and building a strong alliance that appeals empirically and factually to the vulnerability of Africa, a continent that has and experiences a colonial legacy; the downside of foreign aid and foreign direct investment (FDI); impact of climate change; the challenge of the Millennium Development Goals; and ‘unilaterally’ imposed cultural diplomacy as a new tool in fostering Western democratic experiments across Africa.

China is considered, as many in the West would say, “autocratic and undemocratic.” So are China’s main allies, namely Russia, North Korea, Iran and others. The US and its allies, namely Europe, Canada, Australia and others are self-described “values-driven, democratic, free and free-enterprise nations”.

Although these high-sounding mantras that crown the foreign policy of the US and its global alliance are lofty, today’s Africa does not buy it. Instead, it is a continent that sentimentalizes what China has to offer: infrastructure, trade, diplomatic equality, cultural sensitivity and industrial innovation.

It is true that foreign aid has saved millions of lives over the past half century in so many African countries and is a valuable contribution to the global fight against disease and hunger.

However, the US, Europe, Canada and their allies must not only move on from being a notorious donor of foreign aid to Africa, they must also realize that self-help is more reliable than foreign aid in providing durable services.

Currently, the US awards foreign aid to 47 African nations and USAID run about 27 missions on the continent. American foreign aid to Africa began in the 1960s when many African nations gained independence and the United States sought strategic alliances to counter the influence of the Soviet Union, now Russia.

In a recently published survey, AidData, a research laboratory at the College of William and Mary in the United States, claims that China allocated $350 billion in foreign aid between 2000 and 2014, which is close to $394.6 billion in the US. From $210 million in 2000 to $3 billion in 2011, China’s investment in foreign aid to Africa has seen a dramatic increase. But that is not the main point; what is important is that China does not give humanitarian aid to Africa, it offers repayable loans and ensures that such loans are used for tangible, empirical, visible, concrete and sustainable development, while also offering trade relations.

Chinese foreign aid (loans) to Africa build or improve roads, railways, factories and hospitals, develop seaports, housing, agricultural food production capacity, etc., and this is done in direct partnership with qualified African nations and Chinese institutions.

These efforts not only create jobs and wealth for young Africans, and limit forced economic migration, but also facilitate sustainable economic empowerment, self-reliance and foster community innovation across the continent.

According to the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) budget request, the US government has proposed 7.77 billion dollars for aid specifically for Africa, compared to $7.65 billion in actual emergency appropriations in FY 2021. Health programs make up 75% of the FY 2023 proposal, economic growth aid 12%, peace and security aid 6%, and so on further.

The problem is that the US foreign aid approach hinders the development of democracy in African recipient countries, reducing the need for governments to raise taxes from citizens and be accountable in terms of providing basic social services, as well as an enabling environment for private sector growth, job creation, self-sufficiency and sustainable innovation. It also encourages corruption in the public sector as foreign aid assumes the responsibility of the host government towards citizens and society.

In addition, it makes unemployed, poor young people vulnerable to political manipulation for little or nothing. Thus, it distorts the very democracy and freedom that the west seeks to promote because democracy and freedom can never thrive or be meaningful and fully participatory in an environment of extreme poverty, hunger, high unemployment and food insecurity.

Another area is China is culturally sensitive to Africa and Africa is culturally sensitive to China. Both China and Africa maintain mutual respect from a cultural perspective. For example, the US and its allies are drastically intolerant of polygamy. There are many good reasons for this to be the case from the cultural perspective of the US and its allies, their history and development.

Equally, Africa or African nations do not react uncompromisingly to same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships, and there are plenty of good reasons for this from the cultural perspectives of the African continent, its history and its development.

Part of the US-Africa relationship must appreciate these contexts and adhere to them. Africa must not impose polygamy on the US and its allies, nor should the US impose same-sex marriage on Africa if both the US and Africa are to establish a relationship of trust and mutual understanding in ways that bring Africa closer to the US in global diplomacy.

In view of the above, what Africa or African countries must do after the US-Africa summit is to practically reduce or stop reliance on foreign aid. Instead, they must opt ​​more for trade and economic development partnerships with the US and Western countries in the areas of infrastructure, job creation, workforce development, agri-food production and sustainable health support.

This means establishing partnerships that lead to the construction or improvement of roads, bridges, railways, factories, hospitals, health facilities, sports stadiums, hydro and renewable energy, agricultural food production facilities, and providing training to Africa’s young workforce in technology and more. a lot of it.

The reason for this is that continued foreign aid to Africa fuels corrupt, highly inefficient, inefficient governments across the African continent, hinders economic and investment growth, inhibits democracy and the rule of law, and encourages unstable economic policies.

Many studies and reports conclude that foreign aid slows down and distorts the economic development process of recipient countries and leads to dependency and exploitation. It also replaces domestic savings and trade flows. It seems clear that most countries, especially sub-Saharan African countries, are economically more dependent on rich nations even for things like budgetary support. This is unacceptable and must stop.

Finally, the US can successfully counter China’s growing influence and control in Africa if the US and the West shift from viewing Africa through humanitarian and crisis lenses to a tangible trade and development partner with culturally sensitive mutual respect. Africa can and will gain the global respect it needs if African nations and people stop behaving and thinking badly, and give up their self-inflicted susceptibility to corruption, misrule and mismanagement. If nothing else comes out of the US-Africa summit, this approach, if continued, would benefit both the US and Africa.

About the author:

Williams, a Catholic-educated public philosopher, is an expert in global public policy and international development, a specialist in project and program management, and an expert in institutional development.


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