Here comes another contingent, a one time poor Asian country, China is now a major world player and it is trying to rewrite the rule of doing international business. And there is no better place to show this than the world most resourceful continent, Africa.
Both the European and the American economies have relied heavily on African petroleum, gold, diamond, copper, archaeological materials and many more. And the highly sophisticated western big businessmen have been reaping off these resources, using the corruption of their own African elects and the stirred up conflicts across the continent to cover up the theft. Now, a new reality is here.
China, which is equally hungry for energy and other raw materials for its yet growing economy is attempting to offer what the European businessmen did not offer to Africa, infrastructures. And here starts the war of propaganda.
Some said that China is becoming the new colonial of Africa and some others are saying that China is going to do as much harm to Africa as the western capitalists have done all these years.
A few other people have a clearer version on the argument; China has its own army of labourers and itâ€™s entering the African territory with its imported millions of workers, well prepared for a mission. And the danger is that there are many dubious Africans out there whom for the sake of money will collaboration with the devil himself to steal the local resources and destroy their own natural environment.
Well, the truth is that both the Chinese and the European businessmen will forsake Africa if they no longer need its resources but the local Africans will always remain in their land, so they have better choose their tomorrow, today.
In any case, Europe, apart from being Africaâ€™s closest neighbour has had a longer relationship with Africa, compared to China. That also means there are more evidences to examine the Europe â€“ Africa relationship than the China â€“ Africa relationship, which obviously needs more time.
Talking about the Europe â€“ Africa relationship, it is true that during colonialism the European colonialists did built some infrastructures in Africa such as schools, where few Africans were educated barely enough to take orders from their European masters. Roads were also constructed from some hinterlands where resources were available, down to the sea, in order to facilitate the exportation of the local resources into the European markets. There were also nice buildings and other infrastructures as much as were needed by the colonialists, but let not make mistake about this.
Neither during colonialism none in the indirect colonialism as it is today in many parts of Africa were the infrastructures built to facilitate an independent African economies. Instead the so-called African economies are merely subordinate of their colonial masters in Europe and controlled from Europe. This explains why Africans were never encouraged to cooperate among themselves and to grow together as the Europeans themselves have done. It explains also why there are hardly an African-oriented regional politics and economic strategy, irrespective of the European language and logistics barriers across Africa.
One of the main points the ex-president of the European commission touched at the Padova conference was the fact that based on the unfair designed of African political and economic structures, many African countries are not trading among themselves. The trading partners of each African country are not fellow African countries but the European countries, under the terms and conditions that have been set up by the same European countries.
Bello is an extract from a research on a similar argument:
â€œJust imagine what the West African sub-region can benefit if a regional train can regularly move passengers and goods from Lagos to Bamako, Accra to Dakar. Imagine the unemployment situation in Africa if the same can be happening in the Eastern, Northern and the Southern regions of Africa. This will obviously lead to a high volume of trade among many African countries, thereby creating diverse opportunities for many young Africans. It will promote innovations and automatically lead to better infrastructural development, healthy competitions and tolerance among different peopleâ€¦ Consider the following worst scenario:
Assuming that in the next few days, the Nigerian land space will no longer be habitable by human beings and that the people of Nigeria will need to be evacuated immediately in order to save their lives. Now, if you can prove to me how Britain, the true friend of Nigeria can transport 150 million Nigerians to Europe within these few days, I will show you how it is far more easier and logical to resettle 150 million Nigerians within the West African sub-region. African countries need to cooperate and build trust among themselves, so they can collectively solve their local and regional problems,â€ page 120, Underdevelopment in Africa: my hands are clean, published on November 10, 2010.
The absence of such people oriented and regional political consciousness has had a strong negative impact on the local economic development, in the sense that Africans seem to have lost the idea of internal cooperation and collective growth.
The idea that economic activities should be understood from the local point of view â€“ the local people, their local problems and their collective effort to resolve their problems in their local way. The fact that the solution to African problems will not come from the benevolence gestures of some Europeans or the Chinese, but through the effort and resolute of the African people.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter