For years Africa has been known as the continent that goes begging for help to develop. That has led to mounting debts that ultimately cripple economies on the continent.
The dream of founding leaders of many African countries especially Ghana’s Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was for Africa to unite as a major force to take control of its developmental agenda.
On July 7, 2019 African leaders made history by launching the much talked about continental free-trade zone in Niger’s capital, Niamey.
It would be the world’s largest free trade area uniting 1.3 billion people and creating a $3.4 trillion economic bloc.
The free trade zone is considered a critical action to usher Africa into a new era of development from 2020.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will have 54 African Union (AU) members. Eritrea is yet to join but that would not matter though.
Who is happy for Africa?
But the key question has always been who is the happiest? the world or Africa?
At least Africans who believe in the Pan-African dream of uniting the continent would be happy including the freedom fighters who are all dead and gone.
The latest vigor with which the West want to do business with Africa by providing aid and loans are becoming a worrying for many.
China and Russia are the latest super powers apart from the West who are deepening their presence in Africa.
Political strategist at the University of Ghana, Dr. Kobby Mensah told DW that recent summits like the Russia-Africa summit are ” a total distraction. Obviously we just mooted AfCFTA which is the African Continental Free Trade Area. And immediately we mooted this idea we now have a Russia-Africa summit.
I think it is a total distraction and any Pan-Africanist is going to see it that way.”
The first ever Russia-Africa summit opened in Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday with Russia displaying its military prowess and what it could offer Africa.
All 54 African states sent representation to this summit with 43 African leaders attending the meeting.
Putin had said at the opening of the summit that Russia “currently export to Africa $25 billion ($22.5 billion) worth of food — which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion. In the next four to five years I think we should be able to double this trade, at least.”
African leaders missing the point
Dr. Mensah said “I think that most of the African leaders should start looking inwards, we should looking at how we can actually as Africans charter our developmental path.
I think any Pan-Africanist will see this as a positive development. No it is a completely negative one. And I am not sure why our leaders are not learning from the previous models that actually failed the continent.”
The Russian President had also accused the West of exploiting Africa as he offers an alternative arm of help without political conditions.
“We see how an array of Western countries are resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail of sovereign African governments,” Putin said in an interview with TASS news agency.
Russia is hoping to sign more military cooperation agreements with some African countries at this summit.
But many analysts say African leaders are missing the point and real intent of some of these events which is to distract them from developing their countries on their own terms.