24 November 2012

Kenya: Africa's Place in the New World Order Looks Scary

The cold hard truth on why US President Barack Obama has not visited Africa, or Kenya in particular, is simple. We don't matter in the geo-political scheme of things. Soon after his re-election, Obama went on a visit to Asian countries.

Though he masked his visit with some flowery language, the primary reason for his visit was to tell China to keep off Asian affairs, and thereby safeguard American interests in the region.

Make no mistake. Africa is hugely endowed with natural resources. The continent has 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, 25 percent of the world's gold reserves, and substantial deposits of uranium- a key ingredient in the generation of nuclear energy.

It is estimated that River Congo could power the whole continent, from Cape to Cairo. Minerals in DR Congo are powering the current information revolution, as some are used in making mobile phone and computer parts.

Perhaps, DR Congo best represents how the forces of globalisation can conspire to increase conflict in a region. Globalisation will soon hit your doorstep, if it hasn't already. For example, soon, your closest competitor will not be your neighbour.

It will be someone from very far away. The truth is that the world trade policies are heavily skewed against the continent. While all the major minerals are produced in Africa, the trading, and the profits are made in Wall Street, New York.

While the coffee farmer in Nyeri and Kisii is labouring all day, the real profits are made by coffee giants like Starbucks. With the coming of genetic foods, things will get scarier.

You will have to buy seeds from seed multinationals- certainly foreign owned. Does the African population know about these things? I highly doubt. If the Kenyan electorate is anything to go by, then you can bet that the continent is doomed either way you look at it.

To quote one of my favorite writers, Binyavanga Wainaina, "Africa is a place where the lost are perpetually leading the blind, yet somehow finding their way home." What we don't know is whether that home will withstand the storms of globalisation.

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