The Exploitation: Time to Halt the Punch – Abubakar M. Musa


For those that are familiar with the Western antics, you will understand why Britain has not made an apology for African slavery as it had done for the Irish potato famine. The Berlin Holocaust Museum has no equivalent substantial public monument of national prominence anywhere in Africa. The failure of the West to recognize how wealth extracted from Africa and Africans made possible the vigour and prosperity of the modern Europe is another dagger punch hard to conceive. These, amongst many of such issues, are what Africans should be debating especially in a summer where the Western leadership, their hands still freshly wet with slavery and war bloods, sought to rebrand themselves as the saviors of Africa. Their recent image branding cannot be divorced from their perceived impression of China's increase influence and becoming a dominant force in the African economy, especially for those that have been following the African renaissance closely. The G8's debt forgiveness initiative was spun successfully as an act of Western altruism. However, the too generous nations never bothered to explain that in order to benefit, governments must agree to "certain conditions" which included allowing profit-making companies to take over public services. This was no gift; it was what the merchant bankers would call a " debt – for – equity swap", the equity here being African sovereignty. Other forms of exploitation by the West are perhaps less obvious. Climate change, caused mainly by the West, is expected to have greatest effect on sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Food prices have risen – as a result. Agriculture subsidies by the USA and European Union (EU) make imported foods much cheaper in Africa than locally produced rice, chickens, tomatoes, and so on, and additionally limiting the export of crops such as cotton and cocoa. By implication, discouraging local farming and crippling the agricultural sector of the African economy. A new report by 'Raw Deal' shows how one sided bilateral trade agreements are between European Union and African nations,  in favour of the former. Yet, African leaders remain blinded to this simple reality that requires no logical engagement.

But the activities that triggered the West's adrenaline to reignite their obsessional love for Africa is no less damaging. During his most recent and the only visit to Africa – Tanzania, South Africa and DR Congo, China's President emphasized the need to give Africa new 'vigour' and 'hope', while the Chinese media hailed the visit as successful practice of great power of diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. However, I was keen to put under spotlight, the issue of China's and Western roles and activities in relation to Africa's interests.

Before then, Nigeria's Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido had criticized China's engagement in Africa publicly in financial times. The most of his quoted charges says "China is taking from us primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism." Sanusi's comment painted black China's foreign policy and as expected, was met with ferocious rebuttals from an infuriated Beijing. China's Ministry of Commerce pointed to the Western countries " exploitation of African resources, trade of African people, occupation of African lands, and destruction of African culture" as the essence of colonialism. He also argued that it's China, not the West, that has provided support for Africa's economic and social developments. The drastically diverging perceptions of China's role in Africa are an interesting phenomena. The polarization stems from the focus on different aspects of China's activities on the continent. It is clear how China's selfish quest for African natural resources is making her sabotage international effort to keep unpalatable African regimes in check.

Helping Africa may seem important, but these countries will not do so if they had nothing to gain. Indeed, they emphasize that bilateral relationships has to be mutually beneficial; example, China's investment and exploitation of Africa's resource, access to local markets, employment opportunities for Chinese labors, and service contracts for Chinese companies on infrastructure projects that China funds. To defuse Western criticisms, China claims that it also invests in substantially minor countries that aren't rich in natural resources. However, they often forget to mention as well that China has its eyes on other things those countries can deliver, such as their support for Beijing's "one China" policy, China's agenda at multilateral forums, and of China as a responsible stakeholder in global economy and politics. While there is nothing wrong with being altruistic in one's motives, it should be noted that China is not helping Africa in exchange for nothing. It's like a business: invest wisely, trade with wisdom, and gain satisfactorily and Africa-China relationship should be defined as such.

The delusional thought that China and the West are doing Africa a favour must be expunged with the hard realities on ground. The West and its benefactor allies cannot continue to practice what Thomas W. Pogge described in his book of same title as "Politics as usual: what lies behind the pro-poor rhetoric". This modern form of slavery must be halted if Africa's aim of having a more viable and balanced market is to achieved. Above all, African leaders must be made to realize that "Africa loses twice as much in illicit financial outflows as it receives in international aid".

An appraisal of China and the West in Africa