The US-Africa Summit: What Will Africa Gain?

Published on 5th August 2014

The US-Africa summit is doubtlessly one of President Barack Obama's biggest initiatives for Africa. It comes hot on the heels of similar initiatives by China, Japan and India. Pundits observe that Washington is seeking stronger economic ties with Africa, having found itself overtaken by China and Europe. China has a trade volume with the continent of $200bn (£119bn), more than double the US.

While Africa’s bilateral engagements are a step in the right direction, whether they will yield positive results for Africa will depend on how Africa positions itself. In 2013, for example, 67% of African trade with the US was conducted by only five countries - Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Egypt and Algeria. In 2012, the same countries accounted for 74% of total FDI from the US. Similarly, while China does much more trade with Africa than the US, research by the International Monetary Fund shows that it is also limited to a handful of countries. 75% of exports to China from sub-Saharan Africa came from only five countries in 2011.

From the above trend, it is imperative that Africa should look-inward and draw upon the strengths latent within the continent to engage more productively with the West, Asia and the rest of the World. Africa must evolve its own independent and well-thought-out joint position to enable it engage objectively and from a position of strength. Failure to do this will make the continent to be submerged by the West's and East’s 'evangelical' viewpoints that will only serve to further disorient it.

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