Shawgei Salah Ahmed
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa issued its 2020 edition on innovative financing for the development of the private sector, and the committee estimated the cost of achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030 in Africa at about $ 1.3 trillion annually and said that this cost will increase dramatically due to the expected population growth of 45% within The period 2020-2030, noting that it is a dynamic that could seriously undermine efforts to end extreme poverty and inequality, address climate change and build resilient infrastructure in Africa, and stressed the need to adopt options consistent with the African Free Trade Area initiatives to harness the demographic dividend and develop class, Central, increasing the use of technology, and promoting rapid urbanization, to regional and global value opportunities for African companies as strategic drivers of the economy.
A report issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) today stressed the importance of African countries using new resources to finance development, especially remittances, public-private partnerships, and combating illicit financial flows. The report emphasized, “Many African countries have begun to reduce their dependence on official development assistance as they seek to achieve the sustainable development goals by resorting to new and innovative sources of financing.”
All these reports and news confirm that Africa needs more help from the superpowers to address the negative effects of three centuries of consumption of natural and human resources for the African continent, and to understand this global commitment, we must first know the external influences on African decision-making. All powers want their share of The African cake, but with different policies and procedures that express those powers’ vision of the relationship with Africa.
The Influence of Western Power:-
Historically, Africa’s wealth, represented in natural resources and trade routes, was dispersed between the British, French, German, Italian, and Belgian powers, while traditional trade networks, their social, economic, political, and cultural systems, and their livelihoods were destroyed, and Africa at the time had to supply Europe and the United States with agricultural products, and cheap labor through the slave trade. Especially in the areas that required labor intensity during the industrial transformation stage that the colonial powers were going through.
Britain is looking forward to maintaining its strength on the map of the global economy by weaving a network of economic alliances, building strong business partnerships with African countries in various fields such as infrastructure, renewable energy, and technology, and opening new markets in the Horn of Africa alternative to the European Union markets and taking advantage of population density, wealth and resources, Bilateral trade between Britain and Africa was about 35 billion pounds sterling in 2019, and the volume of direct investment reached about 50.6 billion pounds in the same year, as the volume of trade between Britain and Kenya reached about 742 million dollars, 91 million dollars for Uganda, and 231 million dollars for Tanzania. During the year 2019.
In 1946 France established the French Confederation to replace the old colonial organization. The new organization allowed colonies to be represented in the French National Assembly. In 1960, 14 African countries gained their independence: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Madagascar, Mauritania, Gabon, and the African Republic Central, Algeria was the first African country to be occupied by France, Then came the turn of the Sahel region and a large part of western and central Africa.
In 2019, Macron announced France’s desire to reshape the currency of the African franc, namely the West African franc, which is used in 8 countries, and the Central African franc, the currency used in 6 countries, and because of the African franc’s link to the euro, France can direct the savings of these countries. And forcing them to deposit 50 percent of their foreign exchange reserves in the French Ministry of Finance, and between 1970 and 2006, French exports to Africa rose from 13 to 28 billion dollars, while the size of the African market doubled 4 times, which explains France’s desire to keep its grip on Franc currency.
US President Barack Obama came to adopt a policy of expanding in Africa and competing with China. He announced pledges to American companies to invest in Africa with a value of $ 14 billion. This is considered as a continuation of American initiatives that his administration started in 2013 and then called for an American-African summit, the first of In August 2014, with the participation of 50 African countries, under the title: “Investing in the Next Generation”, the total of US exports to Africa increased by 22%, or to $ 10.3 billion, and the total US imports from Africa increased by 40%, or to $ 50.3 billion, The United States’ dependence on Africa for energy sources has also increased, becoming a strategic issue. It is no secret that about 15% of the oil needed by the United States comes from Central and West Africa.
The influence of eastern power:-
Russia hosted the joint Russian-African summit in Sochi, on 23 and 24 October 2019, and resulted in the signing of about 50 documents between an agreement or program for cooperation in the economic, trade, and investment fields, worth 800 billion rubles, equivalent to about 12-5 Billion US dollars. In addition to Russia’s announcement of its intention to write off the debts of more than twenty billion dollars in African countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin aspires to double trade with the African continent to forty billion dollars within two years, and several countries have acquired trade agreements with Russia, most notably Egypt’s acquisition of About $ 8 billion of the total Russian foreign trade, of which about $ 3.7 billion are Russian exports to Egypt, and about $ 700 million are Egyptian exports to Russia, mostly agricultural commodities.
China was able to obtain concessions that enable it to control the ports, airports, and railways in oil-producing African countries such as Sudan, Nigeria, and Angola, due to its low-interest offers for projects and its offers for infrastructure projects in exchange for natural resources, and due to its adoption of anti-imperialist rhetoric and the lack of a colonial history of it on the continent. China was also able to obtain mining deals to extract gold, diamonds, uranium, and palladium in countries such as Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, and Niger, and for these reasons, Beijing has become the second-largest economy in the world and plays its role as the first development partner in African countries.
The influence of Islamic power:-
Turkey entered the race towards Africa, depending on the common history that extends for about 500 years ago, as Turkey had a presence in the North and East African regions, Turkey focused on the diplomatic and educational side to enter Africa, and Turkey was distinguished by a great deal in this regard as it opened 42 embassies and consulates. In several African countries, as the frequent visits of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have contributed to the acceleration of exchange between Ankara and the countries of the continent in the economic and political fields, Turkey has relied on developing the African human element to contribute to the economic, political and security action.
Trade exchange between Turkey and African countries exceeds $ 5.4 billion in 2003, but this number has doubled in a recorded manner to reach $ 26 billion in 2019, and Ankara aspires to increase this number to $ 50 billion during the coming period, as it opened 26 trade advisors at its embassies in Africa to strengthen This ambition, and in January 2020, Erdogan said that “trade exchange between Turkey and African countries increased by 381% during the last 17 years.” Turkey also succeeded during Erdogan’s leadership of the country in signing agreements to avoid double taxation with 13 African countries and to sign the free trade agreement with 5 others, and these agreements contributed to raising the value of trade exchange and even doubling it with several African countries. Turkey was interested in the trade side and focused on investments that contribute to opening job positions in African countries.
Iran has long actively sought to gain influence rings in different locations on the continent, as it opened embassies for it in more than 30 African countries during the last decade, and the circle of trade exchanges expanded and its value increased in parallel with this diplomatic activity, reaching its climax with the participation of more than 40 African countries participated in the Iran and Africa Summit in Tehran in September 2010, where semi-official data indicate that the Lebanese Shiite community owns about 60% of the vital economic sectors in Ivory Coast, and 80% of the companies collecting and exporting coffee and cocoa, and some studies estimated their attendance at about 80 % In the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, Iran has signed many trade and industrial agreements and the launch of investment projects with many countries, such as Kenya, Eritrea, Uganda, and others.
The volume of trade exchange between Iran and Kenya has reached about 100 million dollars annually, and the two countries aspire to raise this level to one billion dollars annually. To embody the strengthening of trade and economic relations between Iran and Uganda, four agreements were signed, and a joint political statement was issued confirming the strengthening of this cooperation, and a factory was launched to collect tractors, develop fish wealth, and allocate some lands to Iranian institutions to create a model agricultural area, Signing memoranda of understanding regarding radio and television programs.
In the end, all these agreements and conferences on cooperation between the international powers and Africa indicate the direction of the world towards the continent. On the other hand, Africa should focus on infrastructure projects and human development, in addition to renewable energy projects, agricultural production, and industrialization based on agricultural products, the most important of which is the existence of a collective plan for the continent to deal with international influence that depends mainly on free will to determine the future of sustainable development in Africa by decisions of Africa and not decisions coming from outside.
Shawgei Salah is a researcher, writer, environmentalist and a member of the Young African Leaders Forum (YALF). He can be contacted at Shwgy2000@gmail.com