Presentation on theme: "By Abdul-Gafar ‘Tobi’ Oshodi at ECOWAS Symposium in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Held Between the 3rd – 5th October, 2010."— Presentation transcript:
By Abdul-Gafar ‘Tobi’ Oshodi at ECOWAS Symposium in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Held Between the 3rd – 5th October, 2010
First, can ECOWAS region benefit more from Sino-African relations in spite of continental orthodoxy? Second, in what key areas do ECOWAS need China and how can FOCAC help? Third, what are the needed strategies and policy measures for a more beneficial relation: Chinese West Africana ?
Introduction What is Development? Africa’s Historical Trajectory & Sino-African Relation The Chinese Option: A Clarification Chinese Domestica Chinese Internationa Chinese Africana Chinese West Africana : Towards a Developmental Engagement Conclusion: Some Policy Measures
The historical trajectory of ECOWAS cannot be isolated from that of Africa especially in terms of developmental blueprints as ISI, EPS, LPA/FAL, APPER, UNPAAERD, UN-NADAF, SAP, AAF-SAP, and currently NEPAD. These developmental agendas have both being endogenous and exogenous. Sometimes it has been enxogenous. Of these, SAP has received the most bashing from academics and policy analyst. SAP had not only failed to bring about development but it has also engendered a debt crisis. Africa’s debt climbed two and half times to US$272 billion than what it was in SSA’s external debt trebled from US$56 in 1980 to US$161 billion in 1990 just as Nigeria’s debt, for instance, also galloped from a modest US$3 billion in 1980 to US$33billion in Yet the irony continues to stare Africans and non-Africans: massive population most of wish live in poverty sometimes mixed with violent crisis, water and fertile land, yet thirst/drinkable water and food security are serious challenge while in the face of massive natural resources, there is hunger and crudity. NEPAD is based on ownership and partnership. Ownership in terms of African in origin. Partnership in terms of building on interactions within and outside Africa. Today there is a challenge of meeting some of its programmes owing to funding: about US$64 billion annually.
There is no universally accept definition even as there is a multidimensionality in socio-economic and political as well as individual, group and systems manifestations. There are different definitions, perspectives, and agendas. Three broad views can be identified. First, it was situated in terms of statistical and mathematical increase, of up to 5 to 7 percent, in GDP and other economic indicators. Second, there is the ideologically radical and liberal perspectives which either situate development as a dialectically and dualistically interacting manifestations on the one hand and an ongoing normal process towards self actualisation or high mass consumption on the other, respectively. There is by no means uniformity even within both the radical and liberal perspectives. Third, there is the increasingly accepted view, mainly pushed by Amartya Sen, and promotes an individual-centric or humanistic definition which dwell on capacity to function in terms of freedom, standard of living, longetivity, inequality, self-esteem, employment, education and other socio-reality indicators. This line of thinking is obtainable in UNDP and the Commission on Human Security. Development in ECOWAS sense will therefore likely include a betterment of the lives of the toiling masses of the region through provision of the necessary infrastructure, socio-political stability, education, improved standard of living, security and a general upliftment in the lives of ECOWAS citizens.
Africa’s historical trajectory, in the main, is marked by two transitions. First, from expansion to contradiction in economic performance. Second, from optimism to pessimism in political analysis. Explanations for non-development have been hinged on colonization and colonialism, nature and character of the states, “cultural pluralism” or ethnicity, visionless leadership, lack of the Asia’s “Eastern Strategy,” and international conspiracy among others. Just as there are different explanations are solutions. It is this that have led to the emergence of ISI, EPS, LPA/FAL, APPER, UNPAAERD, UN-NADAF, SAP, AAF-SAP, and currently NEPAD. But just like the early developmental agendas, followers of the trajectory have feared for the future of NEPAD owing to the challenge of funding, implementation by challenged countries, international conspiracy and reality as buttressed by mechanisms like CAP, TRIPS, and TRIMS some of which clearly truncated earlier blueprints. Meanwhile, there seems to be an emerging power in the East. Sino-African relations dates back to over 50 years. A relations that have crystallized from Tazara ( ) to anti-Taiwan push ( ) to a more economic one following the inauguration of the Forum for Chinese African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Today, almost all African states have embraced China and reconsidered relations with Taiwan. Over 800 state-owned enterprises are now operating in SSA. This figure does not include small private sector concerns and Diaspora capital. This will be termed Chinese Africana.
China, a state that was one of the poorest when the Communist came into power in 1949, has not only successfully removed between 250 and 400 million of its citizens out of poverty in twenty years but its local industries have continued to find their ways into homes all over the world. China’s rise is not a miracle in the sense that it was actually worked for and achieved. Chinese Domestica speaks to the increasing ability by the domestic Chinese government to engender development of its people and economy. This has often been explained in terms of the “Eastern Strategy” and leadership. By the time it joined the WTO in 2001 it already had the tools for bargaining. Chinese Internationa is a logical implication of Chinese Domestica. It has been marked by increasing capacity of Chinese firms not only to compete with their Western counterparts but have in fact gone ahead to acquire some of them even in the most technological challenging and services area of information and telecommunications (ICT), automobiles and banking. Chinese Africana is an aspect of Chinese Internationa which concerns Africa. While this is encapsulated in the FOCAC, it has also gained expression in others interactions like China-Africa Cooperation Fund (CACF) established in 2000, Chinese Eight Point Proposal of 2006, Beijing Declaration, and the Chinese- African Entrepreneurs Conference, among others. This has been termed “Beijing Consensus” Joshua Copper Ramo. In the last FOCAC held in 2009, China has pledged to support Africa with US$10 concessional loan. The latest era has witnessed ‘invasion’ of African markets by cheap Chinese products.
SCCEP: A Strategic Confrontation between China and the Early Players (SCCEP) will involve China against Early Players like the United States, Japan, France, and Britain who hitherto had had strategic relations with West Africa on the bases of primary resources. As of today, not only has China dislodged some of these early players but it is also heading to become Africa’s biggest trading partner in few years if it continues with its present increases (e.g. from US$4.5bn in 2001 to US$50bn in 2006, to about US$100bn in 2009). The import of this is clear in the Nigerian case. STF: Science and Technology Forum (STF) need to be established to tap the required technological and scientific knowledge from China. STF will not only be partnership among member states’ scientists, but also between them and their Chinese counterparts. When established, the gauge of STF should be in terms of their ability to solve the pertinent and peculiar challenges facing the region in the areas of energy and power, health and agriculture. Under this arrangement, STF should be held not less than biannually with emphasis placed on practical inventions and not a forum for mere theoretical intellectualism. STF should have mandates covering agriculture, steel-based industrialisation, infrastructure, power and energy. FOCAC: FOCAC provides ECOWAS countries [just like other African countries] an opportunity to access Chinese support in terms of funding and aid without necessarily being subjected to the conditionalities of the West. Through Beijing Consensus, ECOWAS members can access much needed funds from the Chinese without stringent reform conditions such as devaluation or re-valuation, removal of state subsidy, liberalisation or privatisation or deregulation among others as postulated by the Western states and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like the International Monetary Funds (IMF) and the World Bank. President Abdullahi Wade of Senegal confirms this.
Africa’s, and indeed, ECOWAS challenge is not insurmountable, they are solvable. It’s mainly about “getting it right.” It is also fundamental to note that China, just as its predecessors, do not have a magic wand. ECOWAS leaders must take hold of the emerging opportunities to engage China. Three measures are suggested in this regard: partnership, regional and national policies. Partnership: The partnership here speaks to the need for realisation by ECOWAS member states to seriously engage other states other than the West in their quest for development. Thus, member states, individually and collectively, need a radical shift which will fundamentally rupture the existing relational configuration to the extent that interactions with either the West or China will have to be determined by actual potentials for development. Regional policies: ECOWAS needs its own plan that will be keyed into broader NEPAD. While having its own plan, a clearer Chinese policy particularly in terms of agriculture, science and technology must follow. Also, there is the need for an integrated regional anti-corruption mechanism. Even if the Chinese treatment of corrupt officials is termed inhuman or dehumanising, it must also be recognised that corruption must be viewed as a crime against humanity. National policies: Individually, there is need to give bite to regional policy. Evaluation, SCCEP, STF, and industrialisation among others should be localised.