Africa’s Global Importance

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
April 27, 2011

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIt is true generally that citizens of nation states are emboldened by the relative power their original homelands enjoy in the world’s council of governance. Jews all over the world are emboldened and strengthened by Israel’s power as Indians all over the world are strengthened and empowered by the growing international importance of India which is why not one East Indian demurred when India offered citizenship to Indians in its diaspora after our government allowed Indian and Russian business people to enter Trinidad and Tobago without a visa.

I was heartened therefore when President Hu Jinto, president of the People’s Republic of China, invited Jocob Zuma, president of South Africa, to attend the Third Brics Leaders Meeting in Sanya, in the Hainan Island of China two Thursdays ago. South Africa became the fifth Brics country joining Brazil, Russia, India and China, the biggest group of emerging nations that will rearrange the allocation of the world’s resources as the century progresses.

Just as the First Pan Africanist Conference led by Sylvester Williams of Trinidad and W.E.B. Du Bois of the United States proclaimed in London in 1900 that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” so too did the Sanya Declaration that emerged from the Brics meeting proclaim that “the 21st century should be one of peace, harmony, co-operation and a century of scientific development.” Needless to say the Brics will have a powerful impact on shifting the global balance of power.

Such a posture should not blind us to the fact that Africa is still a poor continent although it is projected to be “the third fastest growing economy in the world.” South Africa’s economy, the twelfth largest emerging economy behind countries such as Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, Indonesia, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan, is dwarfed by its Brics partners. In 2010 Brazil’s GDP was 2,090 ($bn), its real growth 7.5 percent; China’s GDP 5,878 ($bn), real growth 10.3 percent; India’s GDP 1,538 ($bn), real growth 10.4 percent; Russia’s GDP 1,465 ($bn), real growth 4.0 percent; South Africa’s GDP 357 ($bn), real growth 2.8 percent.

Although the European Union and Europe remain South Africa’s most important economic trading partner, the Brics are now Africa’s largest trading partners and its biggest investors. Yet there are weaknesses. The Brics are not integrated economically; their countries are geographically diverse; and they all have bilateral relations with China. China accounts for about 12 percent of the trade with the Brics while South Africa, Brazil, India and Russia devote “only about 3 percent of their resources to trade with each other and this share has barely changed during the past decade” (Financial Times, April 15).

Such imbalances suggest that the Brics have a long way to go. Presently trade is unbalanced excessively in China’s favor. Africa exports its natural resources mainly to China and imports China’s finished manufactured goods which echoes the relationship many colonial countries shared with their former colonial masters, a topic that Walter Rodney explored in his work, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, and the subject of a United Nations Development Conference on Trade and Development in 1972.

Such an ominous past did not prevent President Zuma’s from being enthusiastic about South Africa’s elevation to this club. South Africa is the leading economy in Africa whose combined annual economic output is over $1,000bn. Used skillfully, South Africa can parlay Africa’s enormous economic resources into a consequential force to benefit the entire continent. Such a possibility led John O’Neil, the person who coined the term “Brics,” to argue that Africa has the “potential to be a Bric-like economy.”

Zuma called this meeting a “historical moment” for Africa and his country. In his address to the meeting, he noted that Africa’s future prosperity “is increasingly linked to the economies of the BRICS, and this forum can decisively assist in tackling our development deficits.” He recognized the North’s “continued dominance” of Africa’s economy but acknowledged the “rising importance of the giants of the South and the value thereof, for a developing economy likes ours.”

In his press conference after the conference, he stated that South Africa brought an “independent outlook” and an energetic political experiment to the Brics and the exponential growth possibilities such an opportunity offered. He noted that South Africa will strengthen its new association with Brics by establishing Free Trade Agreements between regional African communities, “namely the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market of East and Southern Africa and the East African Community. Over the next ten years, Africa will need 480 billion US dollars for infrastructure development which should interest the BRICS business communities.”

These developments bode us well. It signals that Africa is beginning to operate at the highest global level and therefore has a say, albeit limited, in essential aspects of its development. Necessarily, China stands to benefit most from these developments but then we know that altruism is the highest form of self interest. China is not a disinterested party in the fortunes of global development, a point that even the USA understands and appreciates.

Africa cannot decouple from its relationship with the North-nor is it necessary to do so-but having another suitor strengthens its hands in dealing with both the North and the South. Although many persons construe China’s relationship with Africa as being exploitative it is wise to contemplate Wu Hai-long, China’s assistant foreign minister, response to these concerns. He said it is important “to build up a consensus and tone down differences while emphasizing areas where we can co-operate.”

South Africa’s new relationship to the Brics also has implications for social and political relations in our country. It helps that China, India and Africa, homelands from which our ancestors came, are attempting to forge a new unity. More importantly, Africans in T&T can lift their heads a little higher in proud recognition of our enhanced status in the world. My mother would say, “Every little bit helps.”

Africa, the cradle of civilization, has contributed much to the world. A recent study by Quentin Anderson suggests that Southern Africa may even be the birthplace of human language (See “Phonemic Diversity” in Science, April 15). Its budding global eminence is tremendously heartening. With it, comes a new respect for its people worldwide. It reminds us that each society contributes to the world’s store of knowledge and the advancement of humankind. It’s a good thing that Africa is regaining its place on the global stage.

29 thoughts on “Africa’s Global Importance”

  1. South Africa today is one of the great African hope thanks to white settlers who laid the foundation for such prosperity. The other African nations are still suffering today because of a lack of proper organisational/functional structures.

    In the Congo over 20,000 rapes per year, this could have been stopped had the governmentals structures proven to be strong. Zimababwe’s economy have gone down because Mugabe was surrounded by the wrong set of advisors. Personally, I like Mugabe he is a man who fought for freedom but in the process fell under the control of those whom he freed.

    The Chinese are now lining up to build hospitals, schools and various facilities in exchange for Africa’s raw material. They have successful managed to build relations with African nations rich in material resources. The Chinese strategic plan for Africa is to go in and strengthen the governments turn them into communist and gain access to raw materials which they desperately need.

    India on it’s part has rebuilt it relations with Uganda a nation that once drove Indians out under Amin but today are welcoming them back to build and invest in the nation. Uganda will become stronger economically in the near future. Tanzania also has a lot of Indian influence since the time the British brought in Indians to build the railways.

    The African dream is still strong despite the horrible ravages of AIDS and sadly these never ending wars however, things will get better as time goes by… Africans must begin to tell their own stories via movies, documentaries and plays. In the past too many others told their story.

    1. These are not data over which to gloat since injustice to any human being or beings is an affront to all other human beings and Yahweh, according to the Falasha says that to save a single life is to save the whole of Creation.

      Facts about Real India:

      350-400 million people subsist below the poverty line; a number that almost matches the population of sub-Saharan Africa.

      30% of Indians, despite India’s booming economy still live on a dollar a day.

      47% of Indian kids under 5 are malnourished.

      Half of the World’s chronically hungry live in India.

      There are an estimated million prostitutes in India; most “underage”, and who service, not noly men in India but also “tourists” usually male, from North America and Europe.

      World health officials are calling India the next Africa because of its spreading hiv/aids.

      Mumbai, the capital generates $400 million USD a year in revenue just from its prostitute business.

      India has more hiv ppl then any other country in the world.

      More than 70% of murders go unsolved.

      1. Over population is indeed a problem for any nation, that is why the PP must not go ahead and use agricultural lands to build housing or the situation that India faces will become a reality in T&T in the next 10 years. Food security is vitally important neverdirty, once houses are built on the land, that land will be lost forever. I think the examples of India and Africa are indeed instructive for T&T. Poverty is a terrible thing.

  2. Invasion of Africa by Indians might sound good to you, but East Africans know what is in store if they are not careful. I wonder why immigrants are not flocking to India.

    1. They are not “invading” East Africa. They are welcome as business entrepenures. Please Keith stop your diatribe.

  3. The problem with ignorant racists like Khem, is that they massage and masturbate their ethnic supremacist egos through the vicarious myths and group enhancing notions of their Aryan kith and kin. That is why the narrative that emerges from them as it relates to T&T and Africans must always be put into perspective.

    Flattering their ethnic egos with the myth that the perpetual state of Africans was one of barbarism and undevelopment is the crutch that keeps up right their self esteem and manhood definition. Take it away and they become vacuous bipid shells, testorone deficient, and probably suicidal.

    African Civilizations like Ghana, Mali and Songhay were flourishing human nestings when the kith and kin of Khem in Western Europe were still experiencing what is defined as the “Dark Ages”. The University of Timbuktu preceded Harvard and Cambridge as premier higher educational establishments. The people of the Gold Coast, from which many of our ancestors were kidnapped and sold into slavery, created civilized human habitats eons before they allowed Aryans to penetrate their midst and underdevelop them through the process of enslavement and colonialization. And that is why our brothers and sisters in Uganda and other parts of Africa need to be leery of the inheritors of the very mindsets coming into their midst in Trojan Horses of business establishment and industry.

    Reading Khem’s post, one can poignantly visualize him hugging himself in ethnic ego ectastic rapture as he vicariously binds his himself to the pre-democratic experience of South Africa, and the privileges enjoyed by his Aryan kith and kin during apartheid. Those privileges, the social stratification that organized the nation into one where Aryans, Europeans and East Indians, were statutorily granted human superiority over the indigenous peoples of that region, is something he ruminates on nostalgically. The aim is to recreate it in places like T&T, Guyana and Fiji. Well, you had better wake up bud, ain’t gonna happen.

    Like I said the eyes of our people are being opened to the perils that are confronting us. You ethnicist that are dreaming of an 18th century India or 19th 20th century South Africa social stratification in the Caribbean will be jerked awake by a reality that will require you to wear adult pampers. The dusk of the racist is falling, the dawn of the liberated is coming. Good Morning, welcome to the new world.

    1. Yes there were many great developments in Africa the cradle of human civilization. The problem is Africans did not get a chance to tell their story. Last year I was looking at a report on human suffering in Africa and saw naked lil African boys drinking dirty water, it made me sick for days.

      We all see the world diffrently and it is not being racist to speak of what we see. I wish our Afro brothers and sisters well in the African continent and hope one day my eyes would be blessed to see the Sarangetti or mount Kilimanjaro or the Great Zambesi river. Nobody desires the worst for our tribal cousins so Mr Keith Williams stop trying to find a “boogey man” in everything that I write. This millinium started as the Asian age. In the process of time Africa will rise to take it rightful position in the world. In the mean time Mr. Williams show your love as I have by sending some money to help various projects in Africa… Please and quit being so judgmental.

      1. Yes, there are many great developments in India, one item on my bucket list is to see the Taj Mahal, but can you explain why they still eat Rats in Gujarat, and why India is likely to be ground zero for the next outbreak of Bubonic plague?

  4. A missing factor in the “rise” of India, is that of the foreign investments, mainly American. Just like the “white “settlers” in Africa, so too the white corporations in India and China. The massive populations that these two countries represent has scared the west into heavy investments in those countries to keep their populations at home. Only the PP government of TT has dared to provide visa free movement from India that is capable of drowning TT in a population tsunami. As such Indian economic development is NOT home grown, but rather the result of the population scare investment policy of North America and Western Europe. The same for China. It is all western direct involvement. Otherwise the stats for the real India would be a cause for all of humanity to moan about.

  5. Dedan wrote “Otherwise the stats for the real India would be a cause for all of humanity to moan about”.
    What is the real India Dedan, India is such a large nation if it does not trade with the world it will do fine. India’s economy according to the IMF if at #10. That only happened in the 1990’s when the current Prime Minister who was a Harvard lecturer came back and liberalise the economy.

    Growth for this year will be a staggering 8%, compare this to Britan almost bankrupt along with Portugal and Greece. U.S. annual growth is projected to be a measely 1.8% this year. So the Asian tiger is doing well. India has considerable experience in Agriculture and through the “green revolution” was able to produce food for export. This is an area where the PP can work with Indian scientist to improve yield of grain in T&T and turn T&T into an export market for goods rather than an import market.

    1. You blew it when you cited the”Green Revolution” in a positive light. Read the following as only result biologically about the impact this “revolution”; one funded by the Rockefellers, to see what such touted activities can in retrospect have on the populations they were “designed” to support. Of course, the Rockefellers didn’t do too badly in profits.

      1. Because Indian and Israel scientist have proven track record on Agriculture.

        In Africa many nations are unable to feed themselves because of poor farming techniques.
        “For tens of millions of people in rural Africa, life is getting harder. Reliant on erratic rains, working exhausted soil and hobbled by decades of underinvestment and neglect by national governments and international donors, many have sunk deeper into poverty as African agriculture — the mainstay of the region’s economy — continues to face neglect.” From Africa Renewal, Vol.20 #2 (July 2006), page 10

        1. Mamoo, you need to read the article provided by the link.

          Why am I not surprised that an Indian would use Israel to validate India; home of (Brahma/Abraham; Sarah/Saraswati)? The only proven track record Israeli scientist have on Agriculture is the destruction of the world’s top soil, and the enslavement of the world’s farmers to multi-national, agri-chemical corporations. Frankenfoods weren’t meant for human consumption, but maybe its required eating for Indian and Israeli Frankensteins.

          Industrial Farming is an abomination, ask the Chaga People of Mt Kilimanjaro; who for millennia have farmed its slopes only to see European farmers with their monocropping culture destroy their land in a few centuries. Africans are starving because its Prodigal sons returned to destroy Africa.

        2. The only proven track record Israel possesses on Agriculture is that of the destruction of the world’s top soils and the enslavement of indigenuous farming cultures to the agri-chemicals of multi-national agri-businesses. Frankenfoods aren’t meant for human consumption.

          Have you read the article I provided? I’m not surprised you would try to validate India’s scientific methods by highlighting Israeli methods, one culture having spawned the other, (Brahman/Abraham or Sarah/Saraswati), the original science is agriculture and it originated with Africa. Africans are starving because the prodigal son returned to destroy Africa.

          If you need further evidence that industrial farming is an abomination ask the Chaga People, who for millennia have farmed the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro only to watch their land be destroyed by Europeans and their monocropping culture.

  6. The author of this article has done poor research. To present facts that is the opinion of people is wrong and is never accepted in the scientific community.

    However, I hope for the best for the BRICS nations but frankly speaking I don’t care. All I am concerned about is how we as Trinidadians can benefit by being in relationship with these nations.

  7. India’s food-grains production has hovered around a fifth of a billion tonnes mark in recent years. More than self-sufficient, India frequently exports its surpluses. India in 55 years has emerged from famine ridden colonial times, as a famine free Republic. Its population has nearly tripled in that period. More significantly, India in 1947,lost some of its most fertile lands. But she has managed to stand up and falsify many prophesies of doom. India was the greatest success story of the Green Revolution. Although today her agriculture is at a cross-roads again, the Green Revolution of the sixties gained some crucial decades for India in which to rethink her way forward. The Revolution is also worth remembering for India’s capacity for collective action. Pause a while therefore, before you decry India’s administration for every ill in the land.

    1. And then there’s this:

      Despite rapid growth, India lets its girls die

      The bright side of this story is that less Indian girls = less Indian babies; although India’s methods are less HUMANe than China, which restricts live births (much better than starving babies to death) the result will be the same. Didn’t anyone explain to India that they cannot have an Indian nation without Indian females? So much self-loathing. I’ll take Africans waring to repel invaders anyday, over the apparent acceptance of colonial dictates that seems to have pervaded the Indian psyche. Skin bleaching, colorism, and now absolute ethnic self-destruction.

  8. While one cannot with a straight face indulge in any argument that Africa does not have real developmental inhibiting issues, the predisposition of those who use the problems of Africa to ethnically masturbate their egos is well known. The fact is that there is nothing that adversely wrong with Africa that is not shared in places like India and many other Asian Nations. Whether it is internicine cultural and ethnic conflict, Government corruption, or squalor and poverty inundating the existence of tens or hundreds of millions, India and many other nations in Asia have had these problems as long as they have been in existence.

    This does not rationalize or minimize the culpability of African regimes that allowed these festering problems to be prolonged. But blessed with virtually every resource that is in great demand in our world, and some that can only be found in Africa, it is quite clear that the prospects for Africa under proper local management is far better than many nations that might have mastered nuclear technology and developed weaponry to exterminate their perceived enemies. And the appended article speaks volumes about what is happening.

  9. You are so right Dan, the Western Media wants to promote a picture of starving Africans with extended bellys, large heads and boney limbs, in order to justify and cover up their grand theft of Africa’s bountiful resources. Without Africa there would be no Europe and America.

    As much as I hate hearing about African conflict I also understand that an intrinsic human quality is survival and if someone were stealing from my children I’d fight them to the death.

  10. I agree Dan. They have to maintain the stereotype that feed their racist egos.

  11. “it is quite clear that the prospects for Africa under proper local management is far better than many nations that might have mastered nuclear technology and developed weaponry to exterminate their perceived enemies.”(KEITH WILLIAMS)

    It is great that Africa has such tremendous potential, but I do not understand the continuous comparisons to India and other Asian nations.It is possible to sing the praises of African nations and its peoples without making deragatory comparisons to other nations in the universe.
    It would be much more uplifting if we search for the positive aspects of these nations and their peoples, rather than keep playing racial ping pong, as contributors on this site are prone to do with malice and discontent.

  12. Well, you seem to understand when Indians in this blog boast about the development of India, give praise to the racist of South Africa exclusively for the development of that region, and label African Nations as backward and violent. Give me a break. The rank blind prejudice that infuses your judgement is so damn putrid it is nauseating to even respond to you.

  13. The majority of the cheerleaders and flag wavers for the prosperity and success of the Indian economy reside in your country- the USA.American politicans, commentators and journalists, including President Obama are continuously singing the praises of India’s success in the media.
    This has nothing to do with “rank blind prejudice”. Those contributors on this site who indulge in negative comparisons are probably motivated by some sort of competetive and racial bias, but it is wise to not paint everyone with a broad brush. Besides, it is very unhealthy and psychologically damaging to continually harp on the same theme.This is a large world. There is room for everyone and those who see “race” in every word, deed or idea are doomed to forever live on the fringes of discontent and alienation.

  14. That is bunch of cock. Stick to the point. You queried why I referenced India in my presentation about Africa. I responded that you never seem perturbed when Indians in this blog write comments praising India and belittling Africa. This has nothing to do with Obama. It has to do with your fractured morality that only seem to become active under certain circumstances.

    If they are motivated by racial bias, then why is it that kind of boas do not trigger a response from you. Everything I wrote in my comments are factual. It is a fact that all of the problems and adversities that are alive among African Nations can also be found in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and many other Asian countries. That reference had relevance because the article in the Economist also made economic analogies between India and other Asian Nations and the Africa.

    The world has always been large, and Africans have always been the inviters, the peacemakers, the integrationists, the ones in the vanguard for racial eqality. We did not wake up one morning after our kind got into power and suddenly decided that this was a moral argument. I refuse to pander and pay lip service to the moral relativity that inundate the views of hypocrites who operate under the assumption that our attention span is as limited as theirs, and thus they can wax hypocritically without fear of being challenged.

    Ask those who continue to argue that the PNM provided largesse to African Trinidadians to stop painting with a broad brush. Like I said, and repeat herein, racial stereotyphistory does not have its origins among Africans. To stamp out the disease one has to go to its source, to where it is more concentrated, to where it has festered for centuries.

    People are not born racist or prejudiced. It is, and has always been a development from religious and cultural belief systems that nurture the notion that some are superior and others inferior based on their appearance. The problem with you hypocrites is that you wish to begin the debate from a point half way in the existence of the behaviour. And your reason for this convenient paradigm is to massage your ethnic egos by pointing fingers at those who did not start the fire, who did not have their hands on the matches and gasolene, metaphorically speaking, when the conflagaration began.

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