by Zambia Daily Mail
THE just-ended United Kingdom-Africa Investment summit is a testimony that Africa continues to be attractive on the global stage.
The January 20 summit in London hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson forged new strategic partnerships between the UK and African countries, promising to deliver more investments, jobs and growth.
It came on the heels of the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and was attended by 43 African countries.
Mr Putin used the occasion to extend aid or trade deals without political or other conditions, emphasising sovereignty for the African continent.
Japan, on the other hand, has its own platform – the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) – where it shares its aspirations with the African continent.
TICAD is an international conference on African development. It has been led by the government of Japan since 1993 and has been held jointly with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, the African Union Commission and the World Bank.
Other profile summits include the United States-Africa leaders’ summit hosted by then President of the United States of America Barack Obama in 2014 aimed at enhancing collaboration between the USA and Africa. Leaders from 50 African states attended the three-day summit, which primarily focused on trade, investment and security of the continent.
China, too, has been consistent with her relationship with Africa and has held a series of summits with countries on the continent.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was inaugurated in 2000 in Beijing, China.
This was followed by the summit in 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Beijing in 2006, followed by the gathering in Sharm el-Shekh, Egypt, in 2009.
Beijing yet again hosted the summit before it returned to Africa, this time in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2015. The last FOCAC summit was held in 2018 in Beijing, China.
The 2018 Summit was a great success, as China and African leaders unanimously decided to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future, defining the general direction of joint efforts.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of FOCAC.
Over the past 20 years, the Forum has become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical co-operation between China and Africa, maintaining a leading position in international co-operation with Africa.
The benefits of the FOCAC have spread all over Africa. In terms of infrastructure, China has built more than 6,000 kilometres of railways and roads, respectively, in Africa, as well as nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power plants.
China has promoted the process of industrialisation in Africa and enhanced Africa’s ability for independent development.
The investment summits popping everywhere is hugely a result of the realisation by the West of how China has entrenched itself in the world, particularly to Africa’s natural resources.
Everyone realises Africa still has a lot of natural resources yet to be exploited and practically almost all the important natural resources the world needs are available on the African continent.
So the bottom line is that these summits are the new scramble for Africa couched in a lot more polite language and coming in all manner of camouflage of goodwill.
Africa must adopt a strategy if benefit has to be derived. First, African countries must unite and speak with one voice. This is a time for leaders to revisit ideas and the agenda of founding Pan Africanists.
They must go to the summits and demand more. No one must be satisfied with the mere ability for individual countries to sell raw materials but must demand, among other things:
• Better trade conditions.
• Investments in industries for value addition on the continent together with skills transfer.
• Stakes of equity in these industries.
• Retention of most of the revenue on the continent.
The demand list is long but we should essentially be demanding a place at the dinner table to dine and wine during the main meal, not at the aftermath.
It is a dangerous path to take on superpowers but this can be borne out of an African initiative of affirmative strategy of investing in relevant education and research and development.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.