Africa: Transformational, Interventionist States - Lessons From China
2016/20/13

By Prof. Manasseh Nshuti

In the previous article, I touched on the issue of an undefined African strategic relationship with view that we have left it for others to define and determine what is good for Africa.

We simply have to fit in the relationship.

This has been true for some multilateral relationships as well as bilateral. Some multilateral or even bilateral agreements are even predesigned so much so that Africa's take over her interests is pretty limited.

Some of these are 'take it or leave it' phenomenon which belittles Africans' sense of integrity and, above all, dignity. Such relationships have left African interests to be defined by parties that put theirs first (which is rational for them).

If Africa is rising (which is true) it has to also raise the bar in negotiating for her interests, and shape her destiny.

For instance, in the think tank forum mentioned in the previous article, Africa was observed as a price taker even on goods and services produced by and in Africa.

This was the case in colonial, 'post colonial' and now in the Chinese strategic relationship.

This is an issue over which African countries cannot keep blaming others. Not at this age and stage of her development. If we cannot develop our industries and keep on exporting commodities which are then processed abroad and re-exported to Africa at several times their original prices, how can Africa have a healthy balance of trade later on payments under these conditions?

And by asking China or even the West to develop value addition industries for us to rectify - which is not a prudent policy choice and not one that is an attainable one, given the self interest values characteristic of business relationships that defines diplomacy today - we have to remember that, even huge Western industries were originally state planned, owned and managed until they were privatized.

To leave Africa industrialisation to 'market forces' and 'private sector drivers' is tantamount to avoiding/evading the problem. But we can't avoid nor evade the realities of unbalanced economy.

Country specificity

As pointed out in the earlier series, country specific solutions to an otherwise general continental problem of balance of payment deficits and currency depreciations is the only answer to the Africa's trade deficit problems.

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