US-Africa Summit Why they are here

12 Jul 2023

Africa is latent with a staggering amount of potential from minerals to its people.

 The continent needs some realignment of its economic and political compass to break forth and surpass beyond imagination, what any other continent has ever achieved.

And African leaders are alive to this potential and working hard, through various platforms to ensure it is realised. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one such platform.

 A fully functioning AfCFTA, will see Africa’s combined consumer and business spending reach P89 trillion (about US$ 6.7 trillion) by 2030 and more than double by 2050.

New value chains and transformation of existing ones will see unemployment and wars over resources and hunger, drastically reduced or eliminated in many of the continent’s countries.

But that calls for continuous and elaborate effort - a willingness - by African countries and their leaders to work together towards removal of trade and innovation barriers; uprooting corruption; embracing digitalisation; building, then maintaining strong and permanent trade and economic bridges between Africa and the world’s economic powers.

The US- Africa summit presents one such bridge. With a population of nearly 337 million people, and projected to grow to nearly 354million by 2030, then a staggering 387 million by 2050, the US offers a huge market for Africa for both exports and imports.

The continent and the US populations together present a truly formidable potential for development of their peoples. So, even as governments are working around the clock to implement AfCFTA , they can and should, simultaneously be looking to do more trade with the US.

The US itself has long recognised Africa’s potential, and is eager to do business – across various fields- with the continent.

The reason is clear: Africa’s rapid transformation, which has seen a shift in economic and political policies towards good governance, and the abundance of resources – from raw material to its people- makes the continent a worthwhile trading partner.

And chances are Africa’s constant search for better ways to improve its people’s lives through research into, and embracing new technologies such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), in the process encouraging and freeing innovation and entrepreneurial potential, as well as creating a platform for economic and social inclusion, will see the continent economically, and perhaps even militarily, overtake other continents in the next three to five decades.

 With a growing number of the wealthy and middle-class, Africa’s consumer and business spending is poised to grow beyond the current 4.1 percent a year and therefore provide an assured firewall against recession.

There is commitment by African leaders to build infrastructure that encourages industrialisation and economic diversification. Take Botswana for example – where this year’s US-Africa summit is being held this week.

Such commitment by the government has seen initial rollout of internet to all areas around the country, digitisation of systems, greater embrace of green energy, construction of water pipes and road networks to areas where there were none previously; perpetuation of democracy, people’s rights and a push for a better way of doing things as encapsulated in the President’s RESET agenda.

There is elaborate partnering and investment by the government in agriculture and its value chains, pharmaceuticals, and in Science and Mathematics development and digital skills. Furthermore, there is clear effort towards women empowerment, and provision of better health-care and education.

All these ensure that a country is positioned to deal with challenges facing humanity today.

This is where Africa is headed. It is not a docile, timid, helpless Africa this time around.

It is an Africa with a united voice and ability to firmly take position on the world stage, authoritatively discussing critical issues that affect her people and the rest of humanity.

This powerful Africa will have a say on how big economies such as the US, the European Union and China do business with her, be it with regard to debt relief, removal of trade barriers or delivering on their promises. It is possible that the continent will become so powerful that critical world bodies might have to redefine membership of their important committees and bodies.

For example, the UN might have to add the AU to its permanent membership, with the G20 following suit.

However, all this is possible only if Africa builds sound diplomatic relations with the rest of the world, particularly with big world economies such as the US.

They all are watching the continent’s fast development – and none would want to fail to build solid diplomatic ties with it.

The Americans have stated their desire to do trade and investment, and help to build Africa’s security, democratic development, and its people, hence the US-Africa Summit.

It is a desire that African leaders would do well to requite and implement.

As world economic and military powers hope to do ‘bigger business’, with Africa, there appears to be inevitable jostling for the continent’s attention. Some have called it the “second scramble” for Africa.

This time however, it is an Africa that expects to be treated as an equal partner deserving of respect and treatment equal to what she gives to the powers.

President Barak Obama aptly put it when he met African leaders at the US-Africa Summit back in 2014: “I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children.

That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect.” And it in that Spirit that this week’s US-Africa Summit is being held, with over 1000 delegates - among them heads of state - in attendance. The author is editor of the DailyNews. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Greg Kelebonye

Location : GABORONE

Event : US-Africa Summit

Date : 12 Jul 2023