President Obama made history by becoming the first black president of the United States, as well as being the first president with direct lineage to Africa. Now he is continuing to make history by currently hosting 50 leaders from across Africa’s civil society, private sector and religious communities in Washington, DC this week. Ladies and gentlemen this is one of those times where you should take what the mainstream media is saying and reporting on extremely seriously, this is nothing short of a big deal.
On Tuesday the US government announced $14 billion in pledges from US business for investment in Africa. This is unprecedented as usually money coming from the US to the continent usually comes in aid. It is the main focus of the summit as the US has fallen behind the European Union and China in terms of trade; both of which have their own respective Africa summits once a year. This is a clear indication that the world is beginning to wake up to the prowess of the African continent and what we have to offer the world. Back in Africa I was surprised at the attendance of so many African leaders as they have been singing the “We are looking East” song for quite a while now. The rhetoric being that the US for so long has been dictating the terms of humanitarian aid and security agreements while China looks at Africa as a trading partner. This makes sense because according to US Census Bureau figures, China’s current annual trade volume with Africa stands at $200 billion compared to a mere $85 billion for the US.
Africa is rising, whether we are prepared for it or not, it is happening. The US government was running the risk of missing the bus to the African rise. As they rush to get a piece of the pie our leaders must ensure that it is on our terms. At the end of the day we have 50 leaders over there and they only have one. The summit is not only perfect timing for them, but for us. Most African countries have identified their short term and long term goals and by all means they should partner with the US to achieve those goals. One continental goal is achieving sustainable and affordable electricity, a problem that has plagued all areas of Africa. The US has acknowledged the problem through ‘Power Africa’ a program spearheaded by President Obama to provide electricity across the continent, as this is the main obstacle fostering growth.
The summit is a good thing, a very good thing a bit too overdue but it is important nonetheless. Anyone who wants to help Africa rise should not be turned away, but the fundamental base of any relationship we have foreign powers should consistently be ON OUR TERMS!! And make no mistake we should elect leaders who have our best interests at heart.