Is Africa Set for the Third Berlin Conference?

Published on 24th June 2008

Whereas the 1830 Berlin conference that partitioned Africa focused mostly on entrenching influence in the discovered Africa,  the Berlin conference of 2030 will focus on partitioning Africa into oil corridors. As the United States of America, Europe, China and lately India jostle for access to Africa’s subsurface wealth, Africans are busy chasing the ever elusive carrot of good governance.

To run for presidency in Egypt, one requires a minimum experience of 27 years in office (only Hosni Mubarak qualifies!) In Gabon, you need 41 years experience (Omar Bongo), Libya-39 (Muammar AlGathafi), Equatorial Guinea-29 (Obiang Nguema Mbasongo), Cameroon-26(Paul Biya), Zimbabwe-28 (Robert Mugabe), and Uganda-22 years (Yoweri Museveni.) A similar game is   played in Kenya's civil service leadership; one needs a minimum of 60  years experience to qualify!

My story is inspired by Baffour Ankoma’s article in the New African entitled: Reporting Africa: Western Media Bias Against Africa. Baffour focuses mainly on the deliberate strategy of the West to vilify African leadership only when they hurt their own (Western)  interests and a tactic to look the other way whenever African leaders  hurt their people but serve Western interests. Western NGOs backed by Western media playing a game on the African psyche so well that Africa, as we know it today, is suffering from a leadership crisis! But don't say that to Thabo Mbeki. He sees it differently. To him, many African countries have held periodic elections! To the point then, how will the second Berlin conference play out? How is it playing out?

In the oil industry, the more a country takes and gains access to African oil, the more it claims control over it. Emerging and rich nations have a need for security  and energy to drive their industries. China and the United States are locking horns in Sudan, but what does the media give us? The Darfur story! The competition for oil reserves in Africa is making the West to  push for responsible extraction by new comers such as India and China. Paul Collier in Bottom Billion  argues that the  West  should liase with China to  safeguard democracy, rule of law and human rights! Will Africans be allowed in this meeting? Most probably Yes, but as NGOs protesting  on the sides!

Another strategy to cut a slice of Africa is through aid. Wealthy nations are not only jostling for African resources, but are also competing in terms of giving money! Remember the Group of Eight leading industrialized powers (G8) pledged aid to the tune of $60   billion to fight diseases. Each of the Western countries was to   release 0.7% of its GDP towards assisting Africa in addition to debt   relief. China followed suit by hosting a record 47 heads of state (out of possible 54!) and single handedly pledged $20 billion and $5billion in loans and credits. India joined the race in April this year and pledged $500 million. Japan has not been left out. It  has pledged $1.9 billion. The more you give the more you control.

The common denominator in the aid and oil (natural resources) arrangement is that it renders the African vote useless. Countries jostling over control of the African pie and conduit-states determine who a good leader is for Africa. Africans are impotently watching as their continent gets sliced up by emerging and wealthy nations.


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