Chatham House just published a new report entitled Our Common Strategic Interests: Africa’s Role in the Post-G8 World. Check it out if you have a few minutes. Or, if you don’t, here are some highlights:
“Aid is a very necessary safety net, but it is not a springboard.”
Africa’s place in G8 and G20 talks can be looked upon both favorably and critically—either providing attention to cross-cutting issues or creating a gross generalization of the continent. The report discusses the dynamics between the G8, G20, and NEPAD, indicating that the relations in the coming years will be increasingly driven by commercial interests and less so by aid. Relationships should be less “development-led,” which enforces donor-recipient hierarchy, and more focused on diplomacy to create dialogue and respect for sovereignty. This means achieving a balance between political, regulatory support and investment interests in the private sector.
How can we improve the MDGs?
“Missing elements of the MDGs included a system of incentives and disincentives to success, and an articulation of the returns that would flow from having one; the diffusion of responsibility for implementation; and sufficient political will to ensure implementation.” The Millennium Campaign needs greater political and institutional force in order to encourage their implementation, and donor countries need to step up in fulfilling commitments and supporting this. Not to mention, new targets will need to be developed (or old targets refined) in the wake of 2015.
How is Africa as a whole reacting to the financial crisis?
The crisis came at a rough time amidst elevated food and fuel prices but an optimistic rebound is expected: “The financial crisis is likely to have a lasting impact in terms of delayed progress and some reversals, particularly in countries with already poor governance, but overall markets in Africa have recovered well, and investor interest is returning more strongly than many predicted.”
Why should countries be interested in Africa?
The list is long, but take a peek if you have time. It’s not about being exploitative but developing mutually beneficial relationships beyond the donor-recipient worldview. Between strategic interests, benefits from trade, and simply proximity, Europe has a lot to gain from improving African relations further and changing traditional approaches. However, the most dynamic evolution comes from Brazil, India, China, and some lesser discussed nations like Argentina and South Korea. Energy resources and trade are a big driving factor, as well as interests in improving diplomatic reach and clout. Interestingly, for all the buzz and increasing investment rates, “China’s investment into South Korea alone –roughly $100 billion – is equal to all its investments across Africa combined.”
What’s the main takeaway?
That “the overwhelmingly humanitarian interest of many Western countries and traditional partners has led to stereotyped perceptions of Africa in terms only of problems. These views are increasingly patronizing, recursive, out of touch, and a deterrent to serious business interest. Meanwhile the emerging economic powers of the G20 see Africa in terms of opportunities – as a place in which to invest, gain market share and win access to resources.”