Missing in Action:Africa and the G20
Missing In Action: Africa and the G 20
In the face of a global economic meltdown that has left leading even leading economies panting, a Summit was held recently in London, United Kingdom, to brain storm on the way forward. Dubbed the G-20, the countries that took part are considered as the leading economies in the world. Apart from traditional powers like Britain, France, USA, Russia, Italy, others included China, Brazil, Spain, and Malaysia amongst others.
The lone African country at the forum was South Africa represented by President Motlanthe Kgalema who is bidding time before Jacob Zuma takes over. It later on emerged that there was another delegation from Africa led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.The Summit was hailed by the participants as a resounding success considering the hot air puffed left and right prior to its commencement by countries like France. What the meeting accomplished is still to be seen on how the lives of ordinary folks are affected but we are told that the International Monetary Fund will be in possession of more funds to aid developing countries which are really hard hit. Another outcome which may be considered as a ray of hope for Africa is the question of tax heavens and the need for there to be more openness and transparency in the way business is done there. We are sure that if the collective wealth siphoned and stashed abroad by many African leaders were to be brought back to the continent, only God knows what difference it will make.
However the contribution of Africa at the Summit was not really as high profiled as those of other countries. Was it because of poor public relations? Was it because the continent despite its huge potential has failed to boldly assert its rightful place on the global scene? Everyone is amazed at the clout that China now wields in the world. That influence was not handed to them on a platter of gold, it did not come over night, the Chinese worked for it and deserve it. How comes countries like South Korea which were at par if not lower than most African countries in terms of development have been become leading actors on the world scene while Africa with all its potential is still in limbo?
With images of a war in Darfur and the circus of a President indicted by the International Criminal Court dominating headlines, with military coups in Mauritania, Guinea, a President killed under gruesome circumstances in Guinea Bissau, and more events and developments that attract bad press, it is hard for the rest of the world to see the real image of Africa or to understand what exactly Africa represents in the world.
So why do we say Africa is missing in action? The December 2007 edition of the famous African –American Magazine Ebony provides us with some answers. In one of the lead stories for that edition captioned “Inside the Africa YouDon’t Know” interesting facts concerning the continent are boldly asserted. Africa many donot know is the second largest continent and the second most populous after Asia. Africa comprises 20 percent of the Earth’s landmass measuring about 5000 miles north to south and about 4600 miles east to west and that is about four times the size of the USA according to Ebony Magazine.
The total population of the continent at the time the story was published by Ebony in 2007 was 890 million representing 14 percent of the world’s population. Most Americans the story went on and PAV should add the rest of the world do not know that Africa provided the slave labour that developed the new world, enriched the old world and built early America.
Africa provides columbite-tantalite, the mineral from which most computer chips are made.Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Nigeria supply 20 percent of the world’s petroleum and natural gas. Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa combined produce 50 percent of the world’s diamonds. Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe together produce nearly half of the world’s gold. Africa produces about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa supply yearly, 34 percent of the coffee, and 50 percent of the palm products.
The USA imports 30 to 60 percent of key African products, such as oil. France gets more than 90 percent of its uranium, cobalt and manganese, 76 percent of its bauxite, 50 percent of its chromium and 30 percent of its iron ore from Africa. Britain imports 80 percent of its chromium, 65 percent of its lubrication oil, 55 percent of its manganese and 54 percent of its cobalt from Africa. China imports about 30 percent of its oil and gas from Sub-Sahara Africa and its presence in the continent has been growing by incredible leaps and bounds.
With all these attributes Africa deserves to be a more influential player in the global affairs be there economic or political. This status will only be attained if the continent puts its act together. If our leaders could shove aside over sized egos and petty differences and work towards a strong and united Africa which confronts global challenges with one voice, if democracy and accountable leadership which puts service to the people first before the self are some of the points that could put the continent on the right path.
The continent needs to do more to catch up in public relations as well. Some may consider it expensive but it is certainly worth investing in when we consider the dividends. Even when we cannot pay for it, Africa must learn to cash in on whatever opportunities that come along. When global celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt decide to sire a child in Namibia, it is a glaring opportunity for that country to market its huge tourism potential. It may sound odd but there are many in the world who know about Malawi only thanks to the adoption saga of Madona.The examples are legion.
A world void of challenges is wishful thinking, but Africa must learn to make its fair share of contributions in the quest for solutions. If its resources are so vital to the sustenance of the rest of the world, the continent deserves a better say when it comes to making key decisions, at least the ones that impact directly on the fortunes of the continent. It is only with a strong and united voice that this can be achieved. The world needs Africa as much as Africa needs the world, the world is conscious of the potentials that Africa represents and this perhaps accounts for the growing attention the continent is receiving but are the self centred leaders conscious of this? The answer is blowing in the wind.
With Christianity in decline in most parts of the world, Africa represents the future of the Catholic Church. The ever growing Christian population in the continent is eloquent testimony of this. Four years after his papacy began; Pope Benedict XVI visited Cameroon and Angola in his first trip to the continent.PAV takes a look at the fallouts of the sojourn of St Peter’s successor in Africa and some of the complexities that arise from the relationship between the church and politics. Ambassador Akec Khoc, the envoy of Sudan to the USA offers his perspective on the indictment of President El Bashir by the International Criminal Court-ICC. Used to red carpet receptions, President Nicholas Sarkozy may have been taken aback when President Kabila failed to turn up to receive him on arrival in Kinshasa. His call for the vast riches of the Kivu Province to be shared between the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC and Rwanda did not go down well with many. It only fuels the conception in many minds that the riches of the DRC are a principal reason for the conflict. PAV takes a closer look at the meaning of this mind boggling proposal from the leader of a controversial actor in the African political scene. This and more constitute our menu for April. As usual PAV cherishes your esteemed readership, contributions, partnerships, adverts and more.
Happy Reading and Happy Easter!!!!!
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