21 April 2017

Ethiopia: An Antidote of Dependency, Xenophobia

Photo: Pete Souza/White House
Former U.S. President Barrak Obama and President Donald Trump (file photo).

The year 2016 has sent a clear message to the African continent to sustain rapid economic growth and catch up with the already developed nations. The Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the Far right political parties in Europe mean less immigrants from less fortunate countries. Of all other reasons, the hate towards immigrants is what drove nationalist and populist leaders to have an upper hand over the establishments. It seems against the status quo of this globalized world to be hate monger against the minority immigrants. But the best way to defend such brutal and divisive acts is to speed up the economic development in the origin of countries of the immigrants.

It is clear that globally we are entering turbulent times. For example, the very country to whom Africans were taken as slaves during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, have now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries. What do we do about this? Indeed, this is one of the greatest challenges and tests to our unity and solidarity, said the former AU Commissioner Dilamni Zuma at the 28th Heads of State Summit held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Still large numbers of African refugees make perilous journey to arrive in Europe. Sustainable development and cooperation are best ways to prevent any conflicts and migration. Countries worked hard to extricate the continent form the yoke of colonialism. And this political emancipation has not been enough as the continent poised to free the people from economic hardship.

Obviously, had the continent been able to exploit its natural resources it would not have only fed itself but the entire world. But for it to achieve, the world should ensure fair trade and win win cooperation. The developed nations have a moral obligation to help the Continent's effort to eradicate poverty.

African doors are kept wide open to welcome refugees fleeing crisis and conflicts while some of the most developed nations have slammed the door for refugees. While many leaders and so called natives in Europe who does not believe in globalized worlds are pushing with their anti-immigrants sentiment, refugees have already got shelters in Africa. And the only way to defend the dignity of nationals going to Europe and USA is to speed of economic development and lasting peace in the origin countries of the immigrants.

But to do so Africa needs to emancipate its economic dependence from the West. While Africa pushes for political independence, the economic emancipation is far from success. Still Africa's multilateral and bilateral ties with other biggest nations are not in favour of the Continent. This was corroborated by the German Economic Minister Gerd Müller who visited Ethiopia lately.

During his visit, Müller indicates that Germany wants to establish fair trade with Africa as the latter has been victimized by the existing trade ties. He said the lately proposed 'Marshall Plan with Africa' is aimed at achieving trade balance between Africa and Europe.

Addressing AU representatives and diplomatic corps yesterday, Müller said the 25-year plan also helps to re-position the EU's cooperation with Africa, and is intended to serve as a basis of discussion to restructure ties. With the new proposal, Germany needs to add a new and strategic dimension to the partnership with Africa.

The plan aims to expand the development cooperation with Africa and promote good governance in addition to boosting the fair trade. He also noted that Europe and other industrialized countries still use African resources to keep their growth momentum. "You may not find a car or a cell phone that is made without African raw material. But, there have been imbalance between Africa and Europe on development cooperation." If the 20 per cent of the global population are using 80 per cent of African resources for own development, then there is a clear economic injustice. We have to formulate a new and fair trade relation, according to Müller.

He further said the plan also promotes mutual cooperation among Africa and Western countries in terms of education, trade, business development and energy. Meanwhile, the Minister urged the international community to increase fund to meet the required amount of money to the drought-hit countries which he said is a negligible sum if they can cooperate. "It is a disgrace to increase military spending while people are famished," Muller added.

On his Economic Emancipation of Africa and the Way Forward journal, a Namibian businessperson and politician Tom K Alweendo also insists that Africa need economic emancipation indicating that the legacy of colonialism contributes to lack of economic development.

Most countries on the continent became independent in the 1960s and 1970s. The unfortunate thing is, however, that after the colonial powers departed, they continued to dominate the African economies. What is bad about this is not so much the fact that the departed colonial powers continued to be involved in the African economies, but rather the fact that they did so at the expense of the Africans.

The colonial powers continued to exploit the African raw materials to build their economies at the expense of the African economies. What is astonishing, though, is the fact that we allowed them free passage to do so, and we still do allow them to do so, indicates Alweendo.

To date, we still continue to behave as if we cannot manage our own economic affairs without the departed colonial powers' assistance. It is astonishing to know that many African countries will still prefer an European consultant to advise on economic matters. This is in spite of the fact that over the years, Africa has spent enormous amounts of financial resources on education and training. Unfortunately, we are still reluctant to practically demonstrate our skills. We still want to think that we are less experienced to be experts in economic matters. As a result, we continually believe that we need to build new capacities or we need assistance from the departed colonial powers. What we forget is that expertise comes with practice and if we fail to practice what we have learned, we will never become experts at anything.

The lesson we must have learned from these experiences should be that, as a general rule, no nation helps another nation unless it is in its self interest. It is therefore time that as Africans we must start believing that we have the capabilities and the expertise to run our economic affairs to our benefit.

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