The US – African summit has come and gone. The US President, Joe Biden, and a group of US business leaders met with 49 African presidents and many business stakeholders. He made promises to improve the US bilateral and multilateral relationship with Africa.
He has spent much of his first two years in office trying to assuage doubters on the international stage about American leadership after four years of Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. With this summit — a follow-up to the first such gathering held eight years ago by President Barack Obama — Biden has an opportunity to assuage concerns in Africa about US commitment to the continent.
This rapprochement comes at a difficult moment; at a time when China is increasingly bullish about closer ties with Africa. The need to counterbalance China’s strategy is evident. The Biden administration made it plain that it believes that Chinese and Russian activities in Africa could have negative long-term consequences for the continent. He believes that the Chinese and Russian investments and military projects in Africa present an opportunity for these countries to challenge the rules-based international order, advance their narrow commercial and geopolitical interests, and undermine transparency and openness.
To its credit, the summit produced an MOU with the new African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat that spurred more than $15 billion in new deals, which will turn, lift, and improve people’s lives across the continent. These investments will deliver tangible benefits to people; create new, good-paying jobs both in the US and Africa, opening the $ 3.4 trillion African market to the US.
Some of the highlights of the projects include investments to support small-and-medium-sized entrepreneurs and enterprises – especially lifting an opportunity for women-owned businesses, diaspora-owned businesses, and businesses owned by members of historically underserved communities. Investing to facilitate more significant regional trade within Africa, especially an investment of about $500 million, is expected to significantly improve roads, reduce transportation costs, and ease sea cargo traffic.
However, some critics are sceptical and cynical about these investment promises by the US to Africa. They have argued that the trade deal of $15 billion and other paltry sums promised is insufficient given that Africa has fifty-four countries with different developmental needs. Though not related, this investment promise, compared to US aid to Ukraine, shows how low it is.
Currently, the US alone has invested over $50 billion in Ukraine. Besides, even the AfDB AFRICA Investment Forum last year syndicated $15.56 billion just for the Lagos-Abidjan highway, a corridor of six lanes. By all ramifications, $15 billion is a drop in the ocean of the type of investment Africa needs to leapfrog its development. Africa needs huge investment to lift it from its current economic quagmire, not tokenism. Therefore, we must take these promises with a healthy dose of scepticism and caution. Africans must rely on themselves and work together to advance their cause.
The global powers are wooing Africa because of its natural resources, the size of its market and geopolitical reasons. But one thing is clear: they are all wooing Africa to achieve their national interest first. Do not be deceived. This reason is why African leaders must be circumspect in reaching some of these agreements and fighting for the good of Africa. We know that any financial assistance or even investment from the west including the US always comes with interest rates tied to IMF and World Bank regimes, and US trade or economic concessions will always have diplomatic conditionalities. You cannot enjoy US help without aligning with their global strategic interests.
The Chinese, on the other hand, seem to prefer investments in infrastructure, deploying “soft power” to achieve its objectives. The critical question is: where is Africa’s interest in these agreements? It is not what the US promises to give that should concern Africa, but what it plans to take from Africa. Historically, we know that what the superpowers eventually take from Africa far outweighs any immediate benefit they presented. There are no free lunches, even in Freetown, and the US gives a little with one hand and takes a lot with the other.
Why are African leaders always excited whenever invited by any of the developed economies for these types of summits? It is either the US- Africa summit, UK- Africa summit or China-Africa Cooperation forum. And when they attend these summits, the discussions are pretentiously about how they can work together for the benefit of all sides. However, we know the side that will benefit more – the convener. The conveners always set the agenda and not Africa. Naturally, the agenda will reflect the interest of the host nation. There has never been an Africa-led agenda in these bilateral forums, but the discussions always centre on Africa.
Why can’t African leaders convene these types of Summits, as eloquently argued in a viral video by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame? When will Africa convene a meeting of leaders of the most developed economies on African soil, with Africa setting the agenda? When Africa starts taking the initiative and control of its narrative, it will start making noticeable progress among nations.
The charity narrative has not worked and will never work. When the rest of the world feels it is its responsibility to save Africa from itself and has a mindset of planning to benefit maximally from the abundant natural resources or the market, Africa is both the victim and casualty.
The sole responsibility for Africa’s economic and political emancipation rests solely on African leaders and their citizens. China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, has grown economically and politically in the past four decades. This is not because of US or Western-based intervention from summits. But because of outstanding leadership that galvanised the people to become productive.
Now they deal with the rest of the world on their terms. Today, it is negotiating with Africa on its terms, with Africa still maintaining its charity stands. The US feels threatened by China’s exploits in Africa and wants to solidify its relationship with Africa, which has gone wrong over the years due to a lack of mutual trust.
Africa needs its strategy for growth. At the core of this strategy must be the increase in productivity through industrialisation and innovation. African leaders must look inward and efficiently harness the abundant human and material capital within it. Even when inviting or allowing outsiders to participate in this development strategy, it must be on the terms of Africa and nothing more.
African leaders must always protect the national interest of countries in Africa. In situations where an individual nation or group of nations are weak to negotiate, Africa must have a forum to negotiate together and protect the interests of these countries. Therefore, I welcome the proposal by Biden that Africa must have a permanent seat in the G-20. In supranational forums where no single African country can qualify, Africa can represent all countries as one entity.
I must note unequivocally that the US – African Summit, in all good faith and intention, is nothing more than a US summit to consolidate and solidify its national strategic interest with and in Africa. Africa must know what the US interest in Africa is and how to leverage this to negotiate a better deal for itself. It must do the same for other global powers trying to go to bed with it. Africa is the new battleground of economic and political diplomacy. It is time we take advantage of this position and benefit from all suitors maximally for the continent’s growth.
Africa must be non-aligned in the ensuing global power tussle between agents and proponents of the existing international order, where the US, UK, and the West, in general, are waking up to the threat to that global order by the rise of China, India, and Russia. Africa’s interest must be how to harness the situation for its benefit and not allow any group to take advantage of Africa, as has been the case historically through slavery, colonisation, and neo-colonialism.
The time is for action. This is a time for a change in thinking and strategy. It cannot continue to be business as usual, and we remain little pawns in the hands of any global power that wants our natural resources or market for their benefit. Africans alone can do this, and no one, with all the good intentions in the world and all the summits in this world, will do it for us.
About 300 African stakeholders and 49 leaders attended the last summit. The combined cost of attending this summit by all these people will be a sizable percentage of the amount Biden pledged at the summit.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent