As the Japanese Prime
Minister, Shinzo Abe, prepares a week-long visit to Africa, the BBC is reporting
that he intends to pledge more that $14 billion in aid and trade deals. It
seems Japan knows that if it is to compete with other world powers scrambling
for and partitioning Africa’s resources, especially its main rival China, it
has to go beyond the efforts of Yasuhiro Murotatsu,
the so called bare foot diplomat who achieved some wonderful diplomatic gains
by competing in the Sudanese Wrestling bouts.
Last year, Japan hosted
the fifth Tokyo
International Conference on African Development and announced a five-year
aid package amounting to $32 billion in support of infrastructural development
and economic growth. But Japan’s $32 billion is a drop in the bucket in
comparison to rivals such as India and China. India has recently promised $65
billion worth of trade with Africa and China surpassed the bold move by raising
the stakes to a whopping $200 billion.
Countries such as Brazil and South Korea have also made modest bids in
the new scramble for Africa’s resources.
In all likelihood, this
is the time for Africa. But the question is whether Africa has learned from its
past errors in negotiating foreign business relations or will the continent’s
leaders once again auction our resources with little benefit to the struggling
masses wallowing in poverty and human misery? African leaders such as Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia have frequently stated that in dealing with countries
such as China in the 21st century, Africa has its own free will and
interests, but we can only hope that those interests favour the ordinary people
of the continent whose resources continue to be extracted for the economic
well-being of foreigners.
The Japanese Prime
Minister has strategically selected three African countries to visit on his
trip to the continent. He is expected to visit Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and
Mozambique. According to the BBC, he is to announce plans for a geothermal plant in Ethiopia, bolster Japan’s bid for recently discovered gas and coal in
Mozambique, and make a mark in Ivory Coast, a gateway to the relative untapped
resources of West Africa. In all this, the Americans and Europeans are
standing their ground and will not easily succumb to usurpation by newcomers.
So, then, it is up to
Africans to transform these new opportunities into rewarding investments for
the continent. We cannot allow ourselves to miss another opportunity to achieve
what Africa truly deserves for its people-a flouring economy and sustainable
In : Articles