United States of Africa: China Joins the Race

Published on 24th July 2012

The issue of Africa integration has gained prominence again. The Chinese government in its five priority areas in the China-Africa ties has pledged support towards African integration and capacity for overall development. China will help African countries upgrade customs and commodity inspection facilities as well as trans-regional infrastructure, to promote intra-regional trade.

Since emerging African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Sekou Toure, Haile Selassie and Julius Nyerere, conceived the idea of a united Africa, the notion has remained an elusive concept to implement. The OAU, heralded as the dawn of a new era, turned out to be a weak organization compromised on the twilight zone between the Monrovia, the Brazzaville, and the Casablanca blocks, with no political unity in sight.

While minimal integration strides have been achieved through the continent’s regional economic communities’ efforts, the process has been largely elusive due to lack of regional focus by the leaders; creation of personal fiefdoms and thinking along Anglophone, Lucophone, Francophone and Arabic lines.

Is the current leadership in Africa committed to unity beyond a rhetoric?  Is it ready to demonstrate such a commitment with tangible actions? The success or failure of African unity lies squarely on the leadership's commitment or lack thereof. China has brought the ball to Africa’s court.

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