Columnists Features

Scramble for ‘New Africa’ hots up

By KELVIN ESIASA
SO MANY words have been used to describe Africa in recent years. Some people have described it as a “promising continent” while others have said “the 21st century is for Africa”.
At the just-ended US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, United States President Barack Obama described the continent as an “extraordinary continent”.
He said some of the fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa.
He also said that Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing continent, with young people that are full of dreams and ambition.
It has now become clear that the world has now recognised that Africa is the continent of the future.
This is the reason a number of developed countries are in a hurry to partner with Africa.
According to Aljazeera.com, the new battle for Africa does not deploy ‘strong-arm’ tactics.
It is a ‘soft-power’ game.
Economic and humanitarian aid, interest-free loans, preferential trade agreements and investments in infrastructure are currency across the continent.
For the world’s established and emerging powers, Africa is seemingly up for grabs.
The recent summit reminded African leaders that the world is eyeing the continent’s riches.
It also reminded them that the US is also interested in working with Africa.
Therefore, it was encouraging to see African leaders supporting the need for countries to unite economically.
Speaking on behalf of the people of East Africa at the summit, presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said the African dream is a reality and invited the US and other world leaders to partner with the continent on its transformational journey.
Vice-President Guy Scott also told the US summit that if Africa is to move forward as a continent and achieve prosperity, it is imperative that it begins to trade more with itself.
He urged the US to work together with and support African regional integration initiatives.
Egypt stated in its national statement at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit that it takes pride in Africa’s inspirational liberation struggle.
The Egyptian government said it continued to pursue the common objectives of all African countries through supporting local mechanisms in the implementation of the principle of ‘African solutions to African problems’.
So what is this New Africa?
Recently, Mr Obama said: “I stand before you as the President of the United States, a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa.
“The blood of Africa runs through our family. So for us the bonds between our countries, our continents are deeply personal.
“So I propose a toast for the ‘New Africa,’ the Africa that is rising and so full of promise.”
President Obama’s speech echoed the poem written by Syany Slokani titled ‘The African dream’.
Slokan wrote: “I have a dream that one day there won’t be dictators in Africa and African governments and polices will be able to respect human rights.
“Our education system won’t be based in European model anymore but will be an African system based in African values.
“Africa should be built by the African with co-operation with others.
“But not by the Europeans, Americans or Chinese.”
The new Africa should focus on making the lives of African people better and better.
The new Africa should not be based on promises of the world, but on ensuring that service delivery is key to national development.
The author is the president of the Zambian Society for Public Administration and Society for Family Business.

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