Mitt Romney’s Policy on Africa Needs Specificity

Mitt Romney

By Emeka Chiakwelu

Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential candidate erstwhile ago took a
foreign trip to Britain, Israel and Poland to bolster his foreign policy
credentials but there was no African visit. Mitt Romney has an overview
policy on his website on Africa. But Romney was less specifics on his
African plan. According to Mitt’s Plan which was captioned, “Bolster
Economic Ties and the Rule of Law,” it stated that:

“The United States must regard Africa not as a problem to be contained,
but as an opportunity to be embraced by us and our partners on the
continent. Recognizing that Africa’s road to stability and prosperity lies
through a robust private sector economy, increased trade, and good
governance, a Romney administration will encourage and assist African
nations to adopt policies that create business-friendly environments and
combat governmental corruption. Such policies will lift those nations and
their people, boost economic ties to the United States, and provide
greater certainty to U.S. and international investors. Greater market
access across the continent for U.S. businesses will bolster job creation
in Africa as well as in the United States.”

Mitt’s Plan as it was called was more of general outlook than a plan on
Africa which was short on specifics; it reechoed, rehatched the issue of
trade and commerce without giving the compass to its fulfillment. It may
be good to travel to Africa to show his concern but a thoughtful and
comprehensive plan is probably what Africans expected most in the
Republican Presidential candidate.

President Barrack Obama laid down specifics on his policy on Africa during
his 2008 presidential election. Then Senator Obama took a trip to Africa
before he became the president. Since being elected the president of
United States, Obama has traveled to Ghana on official visit while
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been to many African countries
including her most recent trip to the continent. Africans have not been
fully satisfied but they knew for sure that Africa matters to Obama’s
United Sates.

President Bush 43rd was generous to Africa, he budgeted $15 Billion to
fight AIDS/HIV and the result speaks for itself, and the death caused by
the dreadful disease has been significantly curtailed.

With the financial state of global economy, Africa is willing to trade not
ask for handout. But for free trade to be possible there are still
barriers that prevent Africa from fully participating in global trade and
commerce. From subsidies that are dole out to Western farmers to high
traffic on African agricultural products.

Africa Matters

The contemporary Africa is not your grandfather’s Africa. Many countries
in Africa including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and others are now
classified as emerging economies. While the rest of world are mired in
recession and anemic economic growth, Africa economy has been growing over
5 percent and Africa’s contribution to global trade is steadily
increasing not shrinking as have been experienced by many countries in the
global trade arena.

Nigeria an African frontline state has its economy growing over 6.5
percent for more than three years. The economies of West African countries
are laying the foundation for a common market that will attract
investments and capitals. This is market American investors and traders
will need to expand American trade; thereby spurring and increasing demand
for American goods and services.

An online magazine, This is Africa, a publication from the Financial
Times, stated in its global Africa’s perspective that:

“A number of economies in West Africa are expected to exceed the 7 percent
mark. Nigeria, the most important economy in the region, will grow at 6.6
percent. Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia are expected to post growth of
7.3 percent, 8.5 percent and 9.4 percent respectively. Sierra Leone is
forecast to grow by 51.4 percent in 2012 as major iron ore projects begin
East Africa’s dominant economy, Kenya, will grow by 6.1 percent. The same
figure is forecast for Tanzania, with Rwanda set to be the fastest growing
economy in the region at 6.8 percent. Ethiopia and Uganda are both
predicted to post growth of 5.5 percent. The Southern African region is
led by Angola, Africa’s second largest oil producer, with growth of 10.8
percent, with Zambia and Mozambique forecast to grow at 6.7 and 7.5
percent respectively. South Africa, the regional giant, continues to
struggle to breach the 4 percent growth mark, and is expected to hit 3.6
percent in 2012 “

With African population fast approaching one billion and with increasing
middle class, Africa market is getting the attention of the world. That is
not to say that poverty has been defeated but increasingly poverty has
been receiving a resourceful blow from women and men of Africa. African
people are no more waiting their corrupt and inefficient governments but
are pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. Go to the major cities
and towns of Africa including Lagos, Onitsha, Jonesburg, Accra and others
the amount and numbers of private businesses are overwhelming. Africans
especially Nigerians have money to spend and they are spending it in
Africa, London, Dubai etc.

When it comes to African oil consumption, United States of America is
importing more crude oil from sub-Sahara Africa than Saudi Arabia. At the
moment United States gets its 16 percent of oil from sub-Sahara Africa
and it is expected to reach up to 25 percent by 2015.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) stated that, “Sub-Saharan Africa
has one of the fastest growing oil sectors in the world. Nigeria, Angola,
Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville are all expanding their
output and Chad, Cameroon and Sudan are in the race to catch up. A US
Government think-tank, the National Intelligence Council, has estimated
that in just over a decade, West African oil exports to the US will
constitute about 25% of US oil import requirements from the current level
of 16%.”

With all the insecurity arising from Middle East, United States will have
Africa to turn to for its oil need. Moreover, in spite of the proximity of
Africa’s oil to the American market, the oil coming from Bight of Guinea
has the least sulfur content and therefore cheaper to refine.

Writing in Slate On-Line Magazine, Dr. John Ghazvinian supported this
assertion:”To begin with, one of the more attractive attributes of
Africa’s oil boom is the quality of the oil itself. The variety of crude
found in the Gulf of Guinea is known in industry parlance as “light” and
“sweet,” meaning it is viscous and low in sulfur, and therefore easier and
cheaper to refine than, say, Middle Eastern crude, which tends to be
lacking in lower hydrocarbons and is therefore very “sticky.” This is
particularly appealing to American and European refineries, which have to
contend with strict environmental regulations that make it difficult to
refine heavier and sourer varieties of crude without running up costs that
make the entire proposition worthless.”

Africa can be called a reliable friend of America. But that is not the
whole story, United States interest in Africa is beyond human rights, the
trade ties between Africa and America have been growing tremendously since
the end of cold war and inception of globalization. It is significant
because Africa is fast becoming a landscape that is attractive to so many
parts of the world. China for instance is taking Africa very serious and
has been steadily solidifying its trade ties with Africa by increasing its
investments in the African emerging economies.

This is not to say that Africa existential problems have evaporated.
Africa still has many challenges that she must defeated. The problem of
religious intolerance manifested with violent eruptions in Nigeria, Sudan
and Mali cannot be allowed to threaten the national unity of these
respective nations while weakening their economies.

The embryonic democratic dispensation on African soil has not taken root.
The Big man syndrome with weak democratic infrastructures has come to
define Africa’s nascent democracy. It is essential that African leadership
to be cautious about interference and meddling with democracy with regards
to rigging of elections while truncating freedom of gathering and

The problems of diseases, food shortages, global warming, poor governance,
corruption and capital fight must be confronted head-on by the leadership
and people of Africa. The good news coming from Africa is that Africans
are no longer folding their hands and waiting for a hero on a shining
horse to bail them out.

African people and in few cases the leadership are slowly but steadily
rising to occasion and doing things to mitigate those problems. This is
not to say that African leadership has completely turned away from their
bad ways of exploiting African resources for selfish gain.
This is where friends like America will come in and support the continent
but not to do for Africa what she must do for herself. Africa must lead
and that is exactly what she is struggling to do and a help from America
will go a long way.

Mr. Emeka Chiakwelu is the principal Policy Strategist at Afripol. Africa
Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public
policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of
public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free
enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights,
conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

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  1. Mitt Romney’s policy on any and everything needs specificity. Good post. Cheers


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