The Chronicle

Gibson Nyikadzino, Correspondent

The West’s unquenchable thirst to insist on making deals with African countries speaks volumes of countries that never tire of exploiting the continent’s resources with impunity.

Since the Berlin Conference (1884-85) that made Europeans “official” candidates for African citizenry, Western powers continue making advances that give them lopsided deals.

Though the brutal and physical annexation of territories ended when Africa won its independence, the continued pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies by the West still nudge Africa to the edge.

Now that China’s two decades relationship with Africa has come to a win-win basis, the West continues to label China as a “new colonial master”. International media has indicated that China is strangling African economies by providing loans that have high interest rates.

China’s President Xi Jinping at the just ended Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit indicated that its policy of non-interference is the reason why more African countries resolve to strengthen ties with the Asian giant.

A closer look at the advances Europeans want on Africa are reflected in the recent “Africa tours” by Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May. Merkel’s visit sought to cement Germany’s position as Europe’s biggest economy after Britain’s Brexit deal finalisation.

With Theresa May already turning down a second Brexit referendum, Britain is set to start a life with countries in the Commonwealth as its major trading partners.

Across all continents, the Commonwealth’s 53 members have a combined population of 2,3 billion people, almost a third of the world population, of which 1,26 billion live in India and 94 percent live in Asia and Africa combined.

Merkel was accompanied by dozens of top German chief executives to Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana, clinching investment and security deals. On the other hand, May visited South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Unlike the 1884-85 Berlin Conference that focused and prompted a scramble on territorial annexation and resource exploitation, in post-colonial Africa, the scramble has risen to new levels of expanding economic and security influence.

Besides China, the race to have lucrative deals with Africa is also being done among Western powers, that is, the US, Germany, Britain and France. The quartet is aware that the next biggest investment destination in the world is Africa.

British Prime Minister May’s tour of Africa is also strategic in that all her three destinations, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, are members of the Commonwealth bloc and are the biggest African economies by gross domestic product (GDP).

In the interim, the British premier has had a frosty relationship with Trump since June at a G7 summit in Canada over the latter’s imposition of trade tariffs on fellow members and calling for the reinstatement of Russia, which was ousted over the Crimea issue.

Now, ahead of Brexit, May’s visit to the three African countries are voluminous in that: after Brexit, Britain’s largest trade partners outside Europe will be members of the Commonwealth, hence, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are drivers in Africa.

The population of the combined three countries is good for marketing British products.

In July this year, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Nigeria attempting to reassure African nations that France’s interest in the continent is more than just colonialism revisited.

In November last year, he visited Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast thriving to redefine his administration’s relationship with erstwhile colonies by declaring that “France is back” in no uncertain terms.

Macron said: “The future of the world will largely be played out in Africa”.

During the nineteenth century Berlin meeting, no African leader was summoned to participate during the convention. Today, Western powers resort to inviting African leaders, who if not careful, might be tying the souls of their nations to perpetual debts, which are negotiated in chicanery.

US President Donald Trump recently hosted Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and signed trade and security agreements.

According to Kenyatta: “The meeting with President Trump was fruitful. We discussed security, especially the fight against terrorism. We also discussed how to increase trade and investment between our two countries and how US companies can help create jobs for our youth.”

Kenyatta is the second leader from sub-Saharan Africa to visit the Oval Office, after Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari in April.

Also, both Trump and Buhari emphasised their commitment to invest in trade and security.

The dynamics are apparent when explaining an interest in the US, Germany and Britain keen to make investments in Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest economy and Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy with a GDP of $594 billion and $70 billion respectively as of 2017 into 2018.

It is strategic for the Western powers! The misinterpretation of China’s presence in Africa as a new colonial master through what internal media now term “China-Africa Olympics” has rattled the West because of its punitive-mentality business approach when dealing with Africa.

Africa is a hub of the global economy, with vast mineral resources that can feed the greater part of the world. The continent holds a strategic position.

Rich in oil and natural resources, Africa is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment. Statistically, the continent has approximately 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.

Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that holds the most strategic nuclear ore, and resources such as bauxite, gold, and copper, among many others.

The region is full of promise and untapped riches — from oil and minerals and land to vast amounts of people capital – yet, it has struggled since colonial times to truly realise its potential.

However, a second colonisation premised on the agenda to pursue neo-liberal agenda should not be allowed.