THE 2008 KWAME NKRUMAH MEMORIAL LECTURES BY H.E. BENJAMIN WILLIAM MKAPA, THIRD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, UNIVERISTY OF CAPE COAST, GHANA.
7TH NOVEMBER 2008
Lecture Three: Developing in Dignity: Self-reliance and anAfro-centric strategy
Introduction and Abstract
H.M. Osabaruma Kwesi Atta III
In my second lecture yesterday I dwelt on the leadership challenges that faced newly independent African countries—from independence through the Cold War, the phase of military coups d’état, the debt crisis and structural adjustment programs, the Washington Consensus, the so-called lost decade of the 1980s and 90s in Africa, and the beginning of Africa’s recovery.
Today, in my third and final lecture, I want to look both backwards and forward – backward to rediscover ourselves as Africans; and forward to claim our rightful place in the world, on our own terms, our own right, our own identity, our own personality and our own definition of development. At the dawn of the 21st century there is little doubt that the development paradigms pressed upon us in the last quarter of the last century are deeply flawed. It is imperative that we rethink the way forward.
I direct my remarks and appeal to the political leadership in Africa which I define broadly to include leaders not only in state power but also those that are located in civil society. Indeed, I would argue that this is an artificial, often temporary, distinction. We have seen in our own times that many of those who are in state leadership today were yesterday leaders in the civil society movements as trade unionists, fighters for women’s equality, lobbyists for human rights and as champions of democracy and for sustainable development, and leaders in the private sector. To put it differently, many of those who are leading people’s movements in civil society today might find themselves in state power tomorrow. And hence when I talk about challenges that the present political leadership faces I address a broad spectrum of leaders in the continent. I do not believe that only those that are in state power have the obligations and responsibilities for societal and national development.
I will discuss the challenges and obstacles to the political sovereignty, economic betterment and social development, and the voice on the international arena of the African Union countries. I will compare aid promise against aid delivery to Africa as the OECD/G8 Connundrum. What will it take to make Africa matter, have voice, exercise sovereignty over its resources for development, mobilise veto over the designs and importunities of groupings directed at it? In the face of climate change, how can African countries declassify themselves from 3rd to equal “world”, with what leverage and to what end? Nkrumah saw such an outcome emerging from the realisation of an African Union Government. How close is Africa, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, to his Vision? How can the process thereto be accelerated?
Owning Up and Beginning at Home
Economic growth, development and poverty reduction will require much more than good leadership at the national level. It will also require a conducive regional context, in terms of peace, security and stability. Africa has to own up on its conflicts and sort them out once and for all, with the full involvement and support of the international community primarily through the United Nations Security Council.
Success will also depend on the response of the bilateral and multilateral development institutions along the recommendations of the Report of the Commission for Africa, and various G8 Summit declarations from the 2002 Kananaskis summit onwards. Likewise, it will depend on the revival and outcome of the Doha round of global trade negotiations, as well as EU-ACP negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).
Towards a Development Democratic State
It is generally accepted now that good democratic governance is key to economic growth, development and poverty reduction. What remains unresolved is to what extent, and therefore what other requirements besides good democratic governance are needed for growth, development and poverty reduction.
Mathew Lockwood argued strongly for “developmental states” in Africa, but based on several studies he also comes to the conclusion that:
“…the case for democracy is far from straight forward. Statistically the general relationship between democracy and poverty reduction is weak (eg Moore et al 2000 pp 8-9). In Africa, the advent of multi-party systems did not make a decisive difference to overall economic performance in the early 1990s (van de Walle 2001 pp 247-54)”. (Lockwood 2005: 115-6)
Democracy and good governance are universal values, but we do not have to copy—hook, line and sinker—Western democratic models developed by, and anchored in, societies that are different from ours. Universal values of democracy, human rights and good governance are not a cult; they have to be tailored to the society in question. Even in the old democracies, democratic governance systems and processes are not uniform. We can and we should have democracy and good governance with African characteristics.
We need to learn from the Chinese. The People’s Republic of China introduced, and has since managed, its political and economic reforms admirably by ensuring the reforms benefit from both international realities and local imperatives. Hence, the outcome widely acknowledged as reforms with Chinese characteristics, making the pursuit of a Taiwan independent of the PRC a magic force and the Chinese economy the third largest in the world!!
As I look back over our recent history, I am convinced that Africa needs a home-grown new democracy, focussed on development. After almost half a century of independence, and bearing in mind our pre-colonial and colonial experience, we should now know enough of what works and what does not work in Africa to be able to develop a synthesis based on our history, our experience, and on global realities.
Unfortunately there is a growing trend to pressurize African countries to model themselves on institutional organization and values of western democracies. It is imperative that we rethink this attitude and evolve an African standpoint. Why do we accept without even loud bitterness the external pressures for “regime change” and the threats of sanctions for non-compliance with western values? Why should the western model of democratic structures and their tiers of nebulous authority be superior to African traditional methods and mores of power, consent and conflict resolution? Why should we look down upon Nkrumah’s conception of “African genius” in which he saw the reasoning and sensitivity of “the efficiency and validity of our traditional statecraft, our highly developed code of morals, our hospitality and our purposeful energy.”?
Looking internally at the African Union, the prime agent for a stronger and more coherent African voice and faster economic integration and growth, we see an admirable oraganogram. There is the Assembly of the Union, the Executive Council, the Pan-African Parliament, the Court of Justice, the Commission with its President, the Economic and Social Council and the Peace and Security Council. In terms of promoting and monitoring political and economic good governance we have the NEPAD Process.
It is time to ask: what and how have these institutions delivered? Are their tasks sufficiently spelled out? Are they adequately empowered – in terms of both political goodwill and funding. Two weeks ago, in Kampala, there was held a summit of three regional organizations – COMESA, SADC and EAC – 27 states in all. Only six heads of state and government attended! Truthfully President Paul Kagame of Rwanda pointed out that the obstacle to faster and greater economic integration was lack of political will.
The African Union cannot agree on a campaign to get two of its members Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council. There are so many claimants a strategy for the reform is elusive! In the face of the tumultuous global financial crisis we have heard no comment or appeal from distinguished African political leaders of the African Union for a month as I write. It has taken the Governor of the African Development Bank to convene a meeting of AU Ministers of Finance and African Central Bank Governors for the 15th of this month. And now that meeting may be transformed into a Summit!!
But only a proactive African Union can arrest the attention of the dominant powers of the so-called “international community”. Only such a strong Union can have a determining voice on the ongoing dramatic reforms in the structures and operations of the institutions of global political and economic governance.
In 1981 the distinguished historian Walter Rodney – who incidentally was a family friend – wrote his seminal book: How Europe Under-developed Africa. To-day I often ask myself whether Africans are not themselves under-developing Africa! Are we not party to the economic strangulation of our continent? Do we not readily submit to the strictures and prescriptions of the OECD and the Breton Woods Institutions? Do we not too peremptorily accept their analysis and advocacy of such economic growth signposts as free market economy, trade relations reciprocity, FDI and return on investment, development aid, individual property rights etc. as good for our own growth path? A few random examples will illustrate why it is necessary to rethink this growth trajectory.
The Washington Consensus that laid the basis of economic liberalisation in many countries of the South for the last 30 years no longer has credibility today. Even within the World Bank there are people who are now saying that the Washington Consensus was an ideology of the United States. There is no legitimate economic paradigm any longer. The IMF that ruled many countries of the South for the last 40 years is today looking for countries where it can lend its money. The South does not need IMF advice or its money. Brazil has paid off its debt, so has Argentina, so has Nigeria, and now, under pressure from global civil society, many countries in Africa have been relieved of their multilateral debt.
The situation with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is slightly more complex, because of the changing global economic configuration. Countries like Brazil, China and India are indeed open to trade liberalisation under certain conditions. But, with an increasingly protectionist West, the opening up of Western markets and technology to the South is proving to be difficult. The prospect of injecting development into the “development round” of Doha is proving to be an uphill challenge, as the failure of the July 2008 negotiations in Geneva showed. The North demands more market openings from the South in agriculture and industry (under NAMA – non-Agricultural Market Access), without giving anything substantial to the South.
The North has now turned to negotiating with the South a series of bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to try to get out of these what they are failing to secure out of the WTO negotiations. The most ambitious of these is the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that the European Union is collectively negotiating with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACPs) using quite blatantly and openly a divide and rule strategy, and the lure of money – the European Development Fund (EDF). In the case of Africa, the EU has succeeded in dividing the continent into four “regions”, and within each region, it has created further fragmentation, and it has been able to lure at least one region – the CARIFORM countries of the Caribbean – to agree to sign a comprehensive EPA. Through a comprehensive EPA, the EU hopes to secure objectives that it has failed to secure in the WTO, such as investment policy, competition policy and government procurement, and an expanded mandate for the enforcement of intellectual property rights for its corporations. Once it is able to secure these through the EPAs, the EU can then bring these into the multilateral framework of the WTO, thus getting from the back door what it failed to get through the front door of the WTO.
Now that the North is losing its effectiveness and market power in manufacturing and services, they have turned to arenas of finance and banking and intellectual property. Let me examine these briefly.
“World” Intellectual Property
On intellectual property the North has for too long maintained their monopoly of the knowledge of production and technology and is now beginning to face united opposition from the South to break this monopoly. Ever since the industrial revolution starting with England in the 17th century, the products and processes of innovation have been global public goods (GPGs). In other words, they were freely accessible to all those that followed the innovating countries. However, from the end of the 19th century, early industrialisers like England and Germany began to claim patent and other forms of property rights for their innovations. Nonetheless, countries like Switzerland, Japan and Canada until very recently ignored IP regimes until they were able to catch up with countries like England and the US in areas such as food production and agriculture, manufacturing and medicines. In our own times the North has consolidated its gains and is preventing further dissemination of this knowledge to the South, principally through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). According to a UNDP report, the developed countries hold about 97% of all patents worldwide.
Technology and the knowledge of production processes are central to industrialisation. One of the main reasons for the delayed or retarded industrialisation of the South is the monopolisation of this knowledge by the North, and the high cost of its transfer to the North. For example, much as China is developing as the manufacturing location of the world in our times, it is not adequately known by the outside world that China pays a heavy price for the transfer of technology. Itpays more than $4 billion each year for the patents alone. In some cases, for examples DVD machines, the Chinese companies pay more than $30 as royalty fees for each machine, whilst the Chinese manufacturers get only $2. Last year the UNCTAD Report on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) argued that the Trade Related Investment measures (TRIMS) discourages local content requirement which is an essential basis for industrialisation and effective industrial policy and learning. Also, it argued that the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) were highly problematic for LDCs for they imposed high transaction costs and demanded complex procedural requirements in implementation for technology transfers.
The Financial and Banking Crisis
The North is now facing massive problems in its own finance and banking sector. In fact, the meltdown of the financial infrastructure in September 2008 is not an ordinary crisis. The US, Europe and Japan acknowledge that it is a “systemic crisis”, a crisis of the entire capitalist system as conceived and promulgated by the North and OECD. Their experts are failing to comprehend the nature of the crisis, ands although they have taken short term measures to restore confidence in the system, they are deliberating on how to solve the underlying problems.
What is interesting about the present phase of the crisis is that the North has resorted to nationalisation of their banks and large corporations when for the last thirty years or so they have denied this option to countries in the South subject to Structural Adjustment Programmes and World Bank- IMF conditionalities!!
The post-war reconstruction restored the imperial system, but the underlying cause of the systemic crisis – namely the anarchy of production – remained unaddressed. Following the September financial meltdown, the US and Europe have nationalised banks and the corporations affected by the financial collapse. They have also introduced state regulatory mechanism to bring a certain degree of “order” in the otherwise an anarchical system, raising protest among some US Congressmen that this is introducing “socialism” in the country! What are African countries thinking? What will they do?.
The Problem with Aid
In the previous lectures I have referred to aid as a problem to our faster and dignified development in part because it tends to stunt the spirit of self-reliance and also because in practice its impact is highly inflated. Here is why.
Even before the current global financial crisis, donor contributions to development finance has been on the decline According to the World Bank Global Monitoring Report 2008, aid from traditional donors declined in 2006-2007. In a report released on 25th September 2008 The United Nations said donors will need to increase their development assistance by $16 billion each year between now and 2010 so as to meet the pledges made in 2005.
In 2006 aid from the 22 OECD countries declined (in real terms) by 4.5% and fell a further 8.4% in 2007. What appeared to be exceptionally high ODA contributions in 2005 was mainly because it included large debt relief operations: for example, over $19 billion was in fact debt relief to Nigeria and Iraq! At the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit – where incidentally I was in attendance for the photo opportunity – they pledged to donate more than $25 billion annually by 2010; figures released by the UN in September show that only $4 billion had actually been provided.
In previous years, European goals have inflated their ODA figures by including spending on scholarships for foreign students and support to refugees in Europe. In many instances “debt relief” has been counted as aid, hence the flattering official figures. The 2008 figures show that with the major recent debt cancellations, ODA figures are reduced again almost to 2005 levels.
This backdrop forms the global framework that could, if we are not vigilant, not only influence, but even determine, the policies and actions of the political leadership in Africa, indeed in the whole of the South. If we go blindly by the “policy advice” that the countries in the North provide us as “donors” or “partners”, then we are liable to fall in the same trap as many of our countries fell during the last quarter century. The policies and aid handouts offered by them and by the IMF and the World Bank are not “neutral”. They are aimed primarily to resolve their own difficulties.
In pointing out all these deficits and deficiencies, I am not saying that the North and OECD countries are engaged in conspiracies against the South, although it is often hard to describe in any other way what they do in meetings such as the G7 and the OECD Council. Conspiracy or no conspiracy, the fact is that the North is in deep crisis, in a deep predicament, and instinct suggests that they will try their best to resolve the crises as they have always done – by putting the burden of adjustment on the nations of the South.
I believe these happenings underscore the case for designing and pursuing and Aid Exit Strategy for African sustainable development. This is why I call for a rethinking of development strategy, and following are the areas and tenor of such re-examination.
1. The importance of returning to national and continental self-reliance and selective “decoupling” from the North
The Malawian traditional wisdom “he who splits his own firewood warms himself twice” is an apt aphorism for self-reliance. A Senegalese wisdom in the same vein says that “you cannot sleep on a mattress provided by somebody else, he might just withdraw it”.
It is of the utmost importance that our nations take charge of their own destinies. Development is not something that comes from outside. We have often allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we can retain our independence and policy space by accepting aid, technical assistance and capital from outside. This is an illusion. This is not to say that we do not need certain kinds of assistance from outside, or that we can do without capital or technology. But, first and foremost, we must find resources within ourselves. This is not autarchy. Self-reliance is not autarchy. We as nationals must own and control our national resources.
We are not against private property. It is indisputable that foreign ownership of national resources has become the means of bleeding our countries of added value in production, whether it is in agriculture, mining, manufacturing or services. Added value in the form of super profits, royalty fees for intellectual property, interest payments on debts incurred, and management and consultancy fees, are some of the major means of draining away the added value in production through the use of our national resources.
Secondly, self-reliance also means that we should selectively disengage from the present system of globalisation. Globalisation has been presented to us over the last two decades and more as if it is inevitable it terms of its format and evolutionary direction. But in fact it has proved to be an ideology and a policy prescription for the North to pry open our markets and access to our resources. The September 2008 crisis in the financial system of the North should teach us a lesson. Our economies are tied to the global market and system of production and exchange by a thousand strings. But we must reverse the pull of those strings that make us vulnerable to the vagaries and shocks created by a system that is endemically prone to periodic crisis, now even more so than before.
We must, therefore, selectively and smartly disengage from the global system, develop our national and regional markets through tariff barriers and other means of protecting our agriculture and industries, through for example regional integration. Only when we have developed strong regional markets within Africa should we, from a position of strength, re-negotiate the opening up of our markets and resources to foreign interests and foreign capital.
2. Ensuring peace and security as the basis for democratic development and protection of human rights
I might have put the requirement of peace and security as a first condition, but I chose to put self-reliance and partial decoupling from globalisation as, the first priority deliberately. As long as we are too intimately tied to the global system (and this, in practice, means essentially a system of production, finance and technology controlled by the North), it is difficult to envisage peace and security for the continent.
Of course, it requires no science to argue that peace and security are the essential bedrock on which to build our nations and our economies. we have many problems in Africa that erupt into conflicts, often leading to cross-border or internal wars. Nation-building in societies that have been fragmented during colonialism, that have weak democratic and governance institutions and traditions, and that have inherited economies that are still deeply embedded in the neo-colonial structures of production and appropriation is a herculean task. However, we are learning from past experience. We have learnt from recent experiences in, for example, Kenya and Zimbabwe that we have nations whose unity is fragile, but above all, we have learnt that difficult though peace-making and nation-building might be, this must primarily be the responsibility of countries in the neighbourhood of the conflict zones, supported, where possible by the African Union. We cannot leave it to the Old World to sort out the mess in our continent. The Old World has its own interests and agenda; it is not a neutral or benign stakeholder.
An editorial in the Economist of September 20, 2008 on the recent developments in Zimbabwe is a good example of the imperialist underpinnings of much of the advice from the North (especially the West).
“Help from the West, especially the European Union and the United States, will be crucial…. First of all, Westerners must save Zimbabweans from starvation … At the same time …. Mr. Tsvangirai should rapidly enact a string of changes to engender a new mood of freedom…. He should immediately overhaul the state broadcaster… And he should instantly allow Western reporters back into the country… The faster he can make these changes, the faster foreign aid will come and the faster the country will revive.”
Who gave the Economist the God-given right to tell what Mr. Tsvangirai should do? What makes it believe that “faster foreign aid” is the salvation of the county, when Zimbabwe’s post-independence history shows the opposite?
3. Ending aid dependence
In the same vein as we must nurture the spirit of self-reliance, we must take steps to get out of aid dependence. Aid is not charity, although it is often presented as such. Aid is not benign although the donors claim it to be so. Donors are not the gratuitous “partners” in development although they say they are.
If they are serious partners, we should ask them the following questions. If the people in the North are really as concerned about poverty in Africa, as they claim, then they should honestly answer, for example, the following questions:
- Why does not the US reduce, or eliminate, its domestic subsidy on cotton? It is well documented fact that these subsidies for a few hundred American farmers have depressed cotton prices in the global market, thus impoverishing millions of cotton growing peasant farmers in Africa? How can the US be a “partner in development” when its trade policy is counter-developmental?
- Why does not the European Union stop its aggressive economic “partnership” agreements with the ACP countries that will force ACP into a perpetual neocolonial bondage with Europe?
- Why do the rich countries want Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with poor African countries that privilege the interests of the providers of capital and technology over the needs of development? Why do the developed countries charge exorbitant royalty and other fees on the transfer of knowledge when their own industrialisation historically was an outcome of free flow of knowledge?
- Why do the OECD countries talk about making aid more “effective” rather than creating ways and means of ending aid dependence?
- Why do the OECD countries want to tie aid aimed at enforcing on the recipient countries macroeconomic policies of the Washington Consensus that are detrimental to development?
- Why do the donor countries want to interfere in the internal affairs of the recipient countries in the name of “good governance”, “democracy” and “rule of law”, when such interventions have made a mess in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia?
My short answer to the above questions is that they do all this in order to promote their strategic, political and commercial interests.
Addressing the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra in September 2008, President Kufuor urged the conference “to work to remove the systematic indignities of permanent aid through social and economic empowerment.” He said, “The aim is to totally wean the nation out of a perennial and structural dependence on aid”. But the Conference did not address the question of how to exit from aid dependence. Instead, led by the OECD and the World Bank, it focused on how to make aid more effective. A South Centre publication undertook a critical analysis of the Paris Declaration of the OECD on which was grounded the idea and instrumentalities of “aid effectiveness”. The study came to the conclusion that the Paris Declaration, notwithstanding its apparently good sounding principles, was in fact an instrument for perpetuating Africa’s neo-colonial bondage with the former colonial masters and the World Bank. The South Centre document suggested a seven step strategy for ending aid dependence for consideration by the political leadership of Africa. The first step is the most difficult – that of weaning away from a psychological dependence on aid. As Steve Biko had said before he was martyred, all struggles for independence begin in the mind. The aid-dependent mind-set is so deeply ingrained in the psyche of both donors and recipients that if this major hurdle is overcome, there is no reason why the remaining six steps indicated by the South Centre study cannot be implemented.
4. Knowledge and innovation as the basis for endogenous development
I have already talked about how the monopolisation of knowledge and products and processes of innovation have hindered development in Africa. I have also talked about the manipulations by the developed countries to perpetuate their monopoly. They use the various fora and international organisations including the WIPO, the WTO (TRIPS), WHO and the International Customs Organisation (ICO) over which they have control, and bilateral trade agreements such as the EPAs, to perpetuate bondage to their systems. In more recent years, because of the challenge posed to them by the developing countries they have embarked upon criminalising IP rights violations, and using international sanctions to enforce these rights.
At the South Centre where I have been Chairman of the Board since 2006, a small group of 3 or 4 experts from the South are doing remarkable work in analysing IP regimes and exposing the manipulations of the industrialised countries of the OECD, and I urge you to visit our website.
In this regard, I wish here to endorse some valuable recommendations made by UNCTAD: in its LDC Report of 2007 entitled “Knowledge, Technological learning and Innovation for Development, especially the following:
- The international community should reconsider development impact of IP regimes seeking a more balanced approach, especially in regard to LDCs.
- IP rules should be selectively adapted for LDCs to give them a break.
- LDCs should not sign bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) that erode away TRIPS flexibilities.
- LDCs should create their own domestic capacity to build their independent technology.
- Strong IP regimes have led to increased transfer of resources from LDCs to the industrialised countries with no development of domestic capacity; the LDCs should demand transfer of knowledge that builds their indigenous capacity for research and innovation.
- TRIPS impose limitations on health and education and transfer of technology. IP regimes should be reviewed by the UN as well as by WIPO and the WTO.
I would also like to emphasise the role of indigenous knowledge (IK) that Africa possesses on matters from agricultural production, conservation, to health care. This knowledge and even the source materials are often pirated from Africa (and from other regions of the South) by North-based corporations and research institutions that then develop these in their laboratories and sell them back to us at exorbitant prices. Here valuable lessons can be learnt from Cuba that has developed an indigenous and respectable cornucopia of medicines and health related innovations and practices without any support from the North.
5. Regionalism as the building block towards continental unity
When we have developed strong regional markets within Africa we shall, from a position of strength, be able to re-negotiate the opening up of our markets and resources to foreign interests and foreign capital.
Regionalism is now equated with FTAs – or free trade agreements. Any trade agreement that falls out of the multilateral trading system of the WTO is now defined as “regional agreement”. Thus, by this definition all FTAs negotiated and/or agreed between the countries of the North and those of the South, for example, are defined as “regional”. This is a gross abuse of the term regionalism. These FTA agreements are what they say they are: they are simply free trade agreements between the dominant north and the developing South; and they are, when we analyse these agreements carefully, primarily for the benefit of the North. In our case, in Africa, for example, the present negotiation between the European Union and Africa (as part of the ACP group of countries) is, in reality, an attempt by Europe to consolidate its imperial, or neo-colonial, domination over Africa. But to call EPAs “regional” agreements is a misnomer. In fact, what Europe is doing is to fragment Africa, first between “regions”, and now fragment the regions too, and deal with each African country individually. It is the old divide and rule strategy of the former imperial powers. EPAs are in fact regionalism in reverse. They protect EU`s regional interests in Africa, not Africa’s.
In 1979, African governments met in Lagos to consider the deteriorating situation in Africa. From a food self-sufficient continent, Africa, following a prolonged drought between 1968 and 1973 that hit the Sahel at its worst, had become a net food importing country. Despite two decades of donor assistance, growth in Africa had more or less stopped, and the social conditions in most countries in Africa were worsening. African leaders, in this context, considered that the only way left to them was to pull themselves out of their predicament through their own efforts, and that whatever assistance came from outside in the form of donor funds, must be regarded as secondary to these efforts at self-reliance. The leaders meeting in Lagos set the year 2000 for achieving an “African Economic Community so as to ensure the economic, social and cultural integration of our continent”.
The year 2000, the target date set by the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA), has come and gone. We are worse off today than in 1979. However, in June 1991African nations signed the Abuja Treaty laying the foundation for the creation of an African Economic Community (AEC). In 1999, the Sirte Declaration of the African Union called for the creation of the AEC by 2020.
In my view, Africa must demand from the European Union fresh negotiations for an EPA. Under the Cotonou Agreement the EU has committed itself not to proceed with the EPA negotiations until Africa is able to fulfil its mission of regional integration. This, then, is the challenge to reverse the anti-developmental partnership agreements that the European Commission has been pressing on our political leadership and the private sector.
6. The importance of South-South solidarity and dialogue with the North
I have focused my speech on Africa. That is because it is in Africa that we must face the challenges first. But Africa shares its history and its experiences, both present and past, with the larger southern hemisphere of the world.
Therefore, whilst we in Africa struggle for our economic emancipation, we must make common cause with other developing countries in the South who are also seeking the same goal. They too are caught up in heroic efforts to gain control over their natural resources and to develop regional integration without external interference. Here the lesson of the people of Latin America in fighting against the US-imposed Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) is an inspiring story
There is an aspect of Africa’s relations with the rest of the South that we must put upfront to our own political and intellectual leadership and the media. We must guard against constant propaganda waged by western media and western governments against such countries as China and India. During my travels and lectures in the North, I have been often quizzed by western journalists about the “threat of imperialism” from especially China. My answer to them has been that the west feels threatened by the coming of China into Africa, and therefore it is not surprising that they should be complaining about China. For us in Africa, the possibility of acquiring goods, services, finances and technical knowhow from China, India and Brazil opens the possibility of getting the best deal that we can. The emergence of these big players has ended the monopoly of the West. This said, I must add that we in Africa must not, of course, let off our guards against being exploited by our friends from the countries from the South. We have to learn from history. We must get the best we can from wherever we can at the best price we can negotiate. This requires both knowledge and skill of negotiations at the level of the state and the private sector. And here we can learn from countries like India, China and Brazil in the way they negotiate, for example, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with western governments, and technology and management contracts with western corporations.
It is strangely ironical that even as the west tries to warn Africa against China, India, Brazil and other big players in the South, it tries, on the other hand, to co-opt these very countries in the global system of trade, investment and finance without the participation of African countries, except South Africa. The G7, for example, invited these countries to their annual gatherings in Germany in 2007 and in Japan in 2008 in order to try to co-opt them in the way they design the world. Again, following the collapse of the financial system in the west, the US is trying to hold a meeting of the so-called Group of 20 (later this month) that includes only South Africa from Africa, and some of the big players in Asia and Latin America. So the west wants to have it both ways. It wants to divide us from the bigger countries of the South whilst seeking to align with them in reorganizing the world without the participation of the rest of us. This is unacceptable to us. We must not allow a re-engineering of the world behind our backs. In 1945 when the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions were created, we were still colonies. But now we at least have our political independence. We should not allow them to ignore us.
Let me say that I do not wish to exaggerate the North-South division. It has historical roots, but it does not have to be a permanent feature of the future. We have indeed many friends in the North who are sensitive to our concerns and our developmental needs. They appreciate that we in Africa must develop through our own efforts. All I say to my friends in the North is that they must stop interfering in the affairs of Africa, and allow Africa space and time to develop its own institutions of economic and political governance.
7. Need for fresh thinking on development, financial architecture, and climate change
It is in the light of the above, in concluding my remarks, that I appeal to the leadership in Africa (political, intellectual and NGO leadership) to engage in fresh thinking on matters related to development, and to the current issues of the day, especially climate change and global financial architecture.
Development, as I said earlier, is self-defined. We cannot leave this to foreign interests, least of all to those who, through the instrumentality of aid and capital, want to define development for us. Many of our leaders have a “pragmatic” attitude towards aid. They say to the donors: “We agree to talk your language if you give us money.” This is how the aid dispensers manage to get us to talk their language -- by dangling aid money before us. An example of this is the European Development Fund (EDF) which has been used as bait by the European Commission to entice many of our leaders to agree to the Economic Partnership Agreements that are actually counter developmental, and that foreclose policy options for our governments and for our people. Also, with the Paris Declaration on “Aid Effectiveness”, the donors are using the aid carrot to get our countries to adopt policy measures on economic matters and on governance that diminishes our own sovereignty. With as little as 10 to 15 per cent budget support the donors can tie down and direct the entire macroeconomic policy of our countries.
But a review of Aid such as proposed for the Finance for Development Conference to be held in Doha this month will not suffice. The Financial meltdown of the North will certainly affect South developing countries, especially the least developed countries of Africa. Pressure should be mounted to hold a new Bretton Woods Conference to rethink the global financial infrastructure.
Climate change and energy are related issues. We need to protect our right to energy and to development, whilst taking our rightful place in the current negotiations on climate change. Whilst the general talk is about moving towards a low carbon economy, Africa’s need for energy for development cannot be compromised. At the same time, we need to put to question the ethics of carbon trade for that allows the developed countries to continue with their wasteful consumption habits and production methods through “purchasing carbon” in the market from the developing countries.
It is clear that the northern powerful countries are not making serious efforts to address the dual issue of their own historical responsibility on mitigating the effects of climate change, and their obligation to transfer technology and finance to enable the countries of the South to undertake necessary adaptation measures to climate change. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the issue of transfer of funds and technology are not issues of “aid”; they are treaty obligations that the rich countries have accepted as part of international obligations. The fulfilment of this obligation is no favour to Africa or to other countries of the South; it is part of the “global public goods”, part of the developed countries` obligation to global society and to future generations.
Earlier I defined “leadership” in Africa broadly to include leaders among civil society as well as those in state power. The former include our intellectual leaders, those, for example, who provide knowledge to the younger generation in universities and colleges.
I am Chancellor of the University of Dodoma in my country. In a recent address to the University I said the following:
“Consider the discipline of Economics. From our standpoint and viewpoint, what are the assumptions underlying the present global political architecture? Are errors in planning, projections and misjudgments of the impact of policies and forecasts the exclusive fate of third world economies? To our rural citizen who grows food on own land he owns, draws free water from the villages well, has free access to treatment at his ward dispensary, how does the concept of “living at less than one dollar a day” apply?
“Alternatively, look at the social sciences. How relevant to us and sacred to them i.e. the “developed western countries”, are the principles and values of social organisation in the western mode? As to the family unit, is our extended family system inferior to the so-called nuclear family system? Is the extended family fundamentally unprogressive, anti-development?”
I was only raising some questions. Those in state power have an obligation to reflect on bigger issues of society and social values even as they make policies that have impact on the daily lives of the people. But they share this responsibility with the intellectual leaders of the society, those who are sufficiently distanced from state power to provide perhaps less biased and more people-centered perspectives. But intellectuals also live in a real world, where their perspectives may be colored by the ruling orthodoxies of the day.
Our intellectual leaders have an obligation to explain how orthodox strategies of development have undermined policy independence of our countries during the last twenty five - thirty years. And they then have a further obligation to analyse the causes of the breakdown of the global system. Then they must look for alternatives that draw from the ancient wisdom of our people and the practical experience of our peasant farmers on land and workers in factories and in the informal sector.
The proposition of African development based on an aid-anchored Order has failed. The trade-anchored global order is in total turmoil. The western designed anchor of Partnership with one-sided Good Governance and Accountability offers no better development prospect. Africa needs to rethink its geography of trade and investment. Africa needs to rethink its politics and its economics. Africa needs to rethink its identity and dignity. Africa Universities must lead us in this rethink. In doing so we will be responding to Nkrumah’s distress that: “It is not Africa that is poor. It is Africans who are impoverished by centuries of exploitation and domination.”
Such rethinking is possible. As my founding president, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere would say: it can be done. Play your part!
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