Africa: Born Out Of And Living In Crisis

DRThey say that Africa is about 50 years old.Well, Africa celebrated the 50th and the 10th anniversary (respectively of the OAU and AU) recently, and therefore this statement may be right.

On the other hand, Africa is touted as the oldest continent. Civilization, we are told, started from Africa. Geneticists are of one accord that life itself started from Africa, precisely in the Congo basin area. Can we then be said to be only 50+ years old? Yes, Africa was ‘discovered’ through explorations, the slave trade and colonialism.

These global phenomena created the platform for what has become known as ‘Africa in World Politics’. We are told that Africa had no history, no Philosophy, no doxology.. indeed, ‘no nothing’ until her encounter with the ‘White man’. Even though this non-sense has long been debunked, Africa still plays the role of the ‘hewers of wood and the drawer of water’. Africa’s share of international trade is a mere two percent.

It is the most undeveloped of all the continents; the continent with most of hunger, diseases, and poverty; conflict prone, and corruption clothed; ..the negatives are many. Yet, it is the continent most resourced, untapped, and with a bourgeoning population.

And year in year out, the African Union meets to outline programmes for the emancipation of the continent from the doldrums of poverty, hunger, disease, etc., and to put Africa into the world club of equal partners.

The plans have been many – The Lagos Plan of Action, the African Economic Community Project (Abuja 1991), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and lately, Africa Agenda 2063.

On June 23, the AU will have its 23rd Ordinary Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. As usual, issues about conflict, poverty eradication, development, elections, and democracy will fill the debates.

It is a yearly ritual. True, conflict (peace and security) tops the crisis confronting Africa today. All other problems emanate from the insecurity that Africa finds itself in. The problem is both internally induced and externally fuelled.

Internally, mis-governance (corruption, profligacy, vengeance politics, imprudence in economic management etc.) is the culprit. Hardly is there any African country where one could find constitutionalism (the rule of law and institutionalism) and prudence in economic governance totally adhered to.

Most governments resort to excessive borrowing just for domestic consumption and ensuring that they win the next elections.

The external world is ready to manage Africa’s economies and fund the mis-governance syndrome. In effect we mortgage not only the management of our economies to external managers, we also allow them to draw the contours of our development. One such area is security. That Africa is nowhere able to handle its own security has given rise to external interference at the least opportunity.

The Arab Spring and NATO’s actions in Libya; the Ivory Coast election and Malian crises and the French interventions (in both situations); and many more are cases in point. Under such circumstances, the external world has a vested interest in keeping Africa in turmoil so they could have a stranglehold on our development. The French have completely dominated the course of events in West and Central Africa. The US is always creating platforms from where to launch their own global war on their perceived enemies.

They do this through subtle means – from trying to aid African militaries (check the ACRI, ACOTA and AFRICOM initiatives) to direct interventions in the form of the promotion of democracy etc. The construction and upgrading of military bases by the French and the US are ongoing steadfastly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Chad, Seychelles Islands, Mali and Cameroon.

Such military infrastructure serves the interest of the benefactors and exacerbates the insecurity situation in Africa. The outfall from the overthrow of Muarmar Qaddafi is well known. The rise of the Tuaregs in Mali, the intensification of the activities of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) and of Al Shabaab (Somali) as well as Boko Haram (Nigeria) and the Seleca in Central African Republic are all unmistakably linked to the fall of Qaddafi.

Today, such activities as expansion of military bases are still ongoing. Niamey is the base for US drones. In Niger in the cities of Arlit and Tahua, the US is expanding facilities for tackling drugs and terrorism. Three points of constant deployment units are envisaged.

Available literature shows that Fort Riley in Kansas is the base for creating regional military units, from which several military operations in Africa have already been conducted. While it, in itself, may not be bad to have such external interference, it is sad that the African Union, as a collective, is not involved, yet when things go bad it is blamed for being a lame duck.

The extension of external politico-security interest into Africa is not a bad idea per se; but if Africa is not a variable in the determination of its own security concerns, then that is a problem. We may recall when serious efforts were made to firmly plant AFRICOM in Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa being the main targets).

While global security is of concern to everybody, mortgaging the security of Africa into the hands of external managers is dangerous. At least, we must be equal partners in mapping out security strategies (from the strategic to the operational).

When individual countries allow such interferences, it is the whole of Africa that suffers the outfalls. Besides, the tendency to use security concerns to deny a people true democracy is real. Greedy and power-hungry as most Africa’s leaders are, the tendency is to bribe the leadership to accept putting the countries’ security under the umbrella of an external power.

This is dangerous! History is replete with examples of situations where the anger towards the external power translates to anger against the said government. Chaos and instability mostly ensues. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Libya, and many more are cases in point.

At Malabo, I expect the AU to have a rethink of Africa’s security concerns and have a collective policy that ensures collaboration with external forces only in mutually beneficial module. The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) will come to naught if this approach is not employed.

Indeed, Glen Ford, the executive editor of Black Agenda Report (BAR), has warned that “the danger of America’s military assistance to Africa – whether it is in fighting Boko Haram or Al-Shabaab – lies in the fact that the US has a lethal history of training death squads around the world.

These death squads are now coming to Africa via the blessing of Boko Haram.” True, the Americans now admit they are training battalions of African Rangers and counterinsurgency troops.   By Dr. Antwi Danso

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