Recent developments on the global scene may justify conclusions that there is a second scramble for Africa. The first scramble for Africa refers to the period between 1884 and 1914, when the European colonisers partitioned the largely unexplored African continent into protectorates, colonies and free-trade areas to start the process of disrupting Africa’s development-based indigenous knowledge and systems. Of course, Africa has never recovered from the effects of slavery and colonialism.
The continent’s assets European powers appropriated to themselves included human beings and the natural resources of Africa – with a little country, Belgium, owning the current Democratic Republic of Congo, a country which is almost the size of Western Europe.
The second scramble for Africa is between the West led by the United States of America and Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). BRICs is led by Russia and China as a second bloc to counter the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) blocs’ hegemony.
The second scramble for Africa gained international attention last week when the United States of America Vice President, Kamala Harris, embarked on a three-nation tour of Africa – perhaps to shore-up western influence over Africa and slow down the creeping influence of BRICS in Africa. Kamala Harris’s visit came on the heels of an earlier visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to some African countries to garner support.
Ghana was privileged to be the first country Harris stopped in, with Tanzania and Zambia being the other two countries. An analysis of the Vice President’s tour of Africa elicits two key questions: Why is Africa suddenly attracting global attention again? What does the renewed interest in Africa mean for business and investment in Africa?
Some political analysts think that Kamala Harris’ visit was clearly a preemptive measure to salvage dwindling Western-African relations and stop the growing influence of BRICs in Africa. Some African countries are thought to be preparing to welcome beleaguered Russian President Vladimir Putin to their countries. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine created a gulf between the West and Russia, the West realised that some African countries are aligning with BRICS – a trend that threatens the hegemony of NATO and its allies. If he visits, Putin hopes to make a major push to align influential African countries with BRICS. That is perhaps the reason France and the USA are worried over losing control over Africa, as China and Russia are making significant inroads in various African countries.
The USA is probably trying to use its charm-offensive to convince African leaders to expand their relationships with the Western world rather than BRICS. The USA and its allies are hoping that Africa will reject future infrastructure and business offers from Russia and China. Each bloc is coming to Africa with proposals to support Africa; but the question remains which side is more favourable to business in Africa. However, many African countries see Western-African relations as more exploitative that beneficial.
For years now, China and Russia have been making massive investments across Africa – unlike the West, which is disinvesting in Africa except for a few grants and loans with killer interest rates that continue to shackle Africa in debt. On the other hand, the BRICS nations – especially Russia and China – are offering some African countries more energy and transportation infrastructure, free grain, and helping to develop African manufacturing. In exchange, the BRICS nations are hoping to establish a business and strategic foothold in Africa and to receive revenue from the numerous infrastructure projects across the continent. This will likely give BRICS access to the continent’s raw materials in a bid to reduce Western influence in Africa.
The West will likely be a little less transparent by offering aid, with strings and conditions attached as usual. Africa could also witness an increase in development aid and loans from the World Bank and IMF, more visa lotteries for African citizens, as well as more military pacts and alliances. Sadly, these military pacts do not in any improve investments in Africa; they only protect the interest of Western powers in Africa. Visa lotteries and similar programmes have succeeded in luring African professionals to the USA and Europe, without the rich countries contributing in any way to the training of professionals in Africa. This has become a drain on Africa’s manpower needs as much as it is unethical.
Respect for culture
Furthermore, the United States and Europe will expect African countries to conform to Western ‘norms’ like the LGBTQI agenda. While in Ghana, Mrs. Harris reiterated the Western notion that LGBTQI is a right – which the West expects African countries to conform with. In response, Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo said the bill on banning LGBTQI in Ghana is still undergoing parliamentary process. President Akufo-Addo stopped short of telling the United States Vice President that Ghana will pass the bill banning LGBTQI into law.
Some analysts think the president missed an opportunity to once more state Ghana’s strong position against LGBTQI and the West’s attempts to impose it on us. Others think that for the first time President Akufo-Addo appeared jittery in stating Ghana’s position on the West’s attempted imposition of LGBTQI on Ghana and Africa. The latest development has raised uneasiness among many interest groups – especially the clergy, which are pushing for the bill to be passed.
Conversely, the BRICs countries respect African social, religious and moral norms and will not make LGBTQI a condition for development aid or investments. Since the end of overt colonialism, African countries have been compelled to allow Western companies more access to Africa’s natural resources – which have fed and continue to feed Western industries. In fact, no power bloc has humiliated and exploited Africa’s human and natural resources more than the Western bloc.
While BRICS might be offering better investment options to African partners, it is still unclear whether Russia and its partners will be neutral in business relations with Africa in the future. Some political and economic analysts argue that BRICS, like the West, might later attempt to apply Western-style political and economic manipulation. At the least, we have already witnessed China’s hunger for acquiring Africa’s resources by using loans and grants as entrapments. In many African countries, Chinese investors are flouting local laws and maltreating African workers.
Either way, these must become great days to be an African. After centuries of Africans being treated as sub-human and their countries as second-class, Africa now finds major powers of the world scrambling for its attention. Thus, the second struggle for Africa puts the continent in a stronger position to make its voice heard globally: such as pressing for the United Nations Security Council to be reformed for Africa to have permanent representation. African leaders must also speak with one voice over attempts to use LGBTQI as a condition for economic support. The onus is on African leaders to act like men with two balls between their legs and stop pandering to the dictates of Western powers.
I anticipate that the competition for Africa’s friendship will lead to better trade and investment deals, and more respect for Africa’s autonomy and sovereignty. As the lobbying from BRICS and the NATO alliance continues, the following questions are pertinent: Have the trips by Kamala Harris and Emmanuel Macron improved our opinion of Western investments? Should Africa align with BRICS or NATO? Should Africa limit foreign involvement in its development, or should it chart an independent development path?
In my view, Africa should chart its own development path, because as have stated in previous articles there is no way the West will allow Africa to industrialise and close its markets to Western goods. There is no way they will allow Africa to use its own resources to develop its economies. Perhaps Africa can take a cue from China and India. China and India reached their current level of development without foreign influence; they used their culture and indigenous knowledge systems to change the course of their development.
African leaders must note that no people can develop without the power to make major policy and development decisions. Therefore, Africa must reassert its sovereignty, and insist that the continent does not need any foreign power to teach us how to develop ourselves. This is the time for Africans to claim their right to make sovereign decisions.
A few months ago, western powers put intense pressure on African countries to vote for giving unlimited powers to the World Health Organisation (WHO). A ‘yes’ vote by African representatives would have meant handing power to a group of unelected WHO officials and globalists to consolidate power and dictate to the rest of the world in the event of another pandemic. Were that to happen, they would remote-control everybody – mandating lockdowns and tracking movements.
To the surprise of global power-holders, African representatives and Brazil voted against giving unlimited power for the globalists to control the world population. In fact, Africa and Brazil stood up for the rest of the world; and henceforth that should be mindset of African leaders. Unsurprisingly, the traditional Western media suppressed the brave position taken by African leaders for the first time. The news only received a few mentions on social media. The Western powers were not happy about Africa’s position against the WHO’s globalisation agenda. Subsequently, Western powers have been putting pressure on African leaders to sanction themselves against buying anything from Russia other than food and fertiliser. Why?
Last year, African leaders met and published a resolution to use the continent’s natural resources to develop. Developing imminently, as Europe and the USA did would help Africa to break its overreliance on foreign imports and their accompanying vulnerabilities from outside. In response to Africa’s sovereign right to make independent decisions, Western powers objected to Africa’s decision to use fossil fuels and other resources for its development.
Simply put, what the West is telling Africa is that we have no right to use our natural resources to transform our economies. The posture of Western powers is a clear case of commanding Africans not to exercise sovereign decisions in the interest of their countries. Ironically, Western powers exploited Africa’s natural resources to industrialise their economies – and continue to exploit those natural resources to sustain their economies. In fact, no major Western power can claim not to have used Africa’s resources to develop. As the world is changing fast, it is clear that any system built on the exploitation of other people will not survive.
The only system that will sustain the current changes in the world is a system built on mutual respect for humanity, accommodation and tolerance of other peoples’ cultures and norms. Western civilisation can no longer be the sole measure of how successful or civilised a country or people are. It is undemocratic to impose any system of life – like LGBTQI – on other people as a condition for economic support. What the world needs today is fairness and justice for all, irrespective of colour, race, religion and economic background. The global community needs to unite and eliminate all forms of inequity.