Opinion: Reflection on US-Africa Summit By Emeka Chiakwelu

By Emeka Chiakwelu

After the successful completion of US-Africa Summit, the news was
dominated by Ebola explosion that ferociously and perilously stole the
thunder from the rosy aftermath analysis of the summit. But wait a
second; I still have some reflections on the historic summit:

When I read on the pages of New York Times on President Obama summoning
his African counterparts for the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC; my
first reaction was purely based on cost analysis, specifically on the
venue of the summit. Why is it necessary for all the leaders to gather in
Washington DC to see President Obama? Is it not more logical to hold the
convention in Africa in the deference to the opportunity cost of logistic
and travelling cost?

My perspective was perfected due to the accrued cost of transportation,
accommodation and traveling expenses, for it should be more commonsensical
to hold the summit in African soil. Moreover, a tele/video conference is
just as good as a face-to-face summit. My thinking was based on the money,
for cost of traveling could be better utilize to provide a health clinic
and running water in a remote village in Africa.

But when I put on my diplomatic and international politics cap, it dawned
on me that it made more political sense for the summit to hold in United
States. The Washington DC was appropriate for two principal reasons. First
and foremost, the proximity to the American business community is utmost
important. It makes American business, diplomatic and political community
more accessible to the visiting African leaders. Secondly, the publicity
and dissemination of the news on the significance of the summit can be in
the better hands of American news machine.

Next time, if there is going to be another Africa-US Summit; Africa is the
most appropriate venue especially in Abuja, Addis Abba or Pretoria. Please
do not me why I pick those venues in Africa, the reason is self-evident.
Abuja is capital of Nigeria, which is the most populous and largest
economy in Africa, Addis Abba is the headquarter of African Union while
Pretoria, capital of South Africa, is the second largest economy and
perhaps the most developed economy with modern infrastructures in the
continent.

Africa is richly endowed with both human capital and natural resources
that can make it competitive with rest of other continents, but
intellectual lethargy and psychological set-down made Africa to become
independent to other exterior economies. Take for instance Nigeria has
more resources than Britain and France combined yet Nigeria has a lesser
GDP than Britain and France respectively. Britain has a population of 60
million with GDP of 2.435 trillion USD, and French population 65.7
million with GDP 2.613 trillion USD; Nigeria has a population of 170
million with over half trillion GDP. Nigeria with more resources and with
more engineers and technologists would have been richer, but rather she
recorded lower GDP and income capita per head. And “If Britain were to
join the United States, it would be the second-poorest state, behind
Alabama and ahead of Mississippi,” while Nigeria with a well managed
economy will fare better.

The US-Africa Summit is a significant development for it introduced a
dynamic and equal relationship between Africa and United States. But the
reality and factuality is that Africa has all it need to develop its
economy and emerged as industrial and rich continent. Africa must first
and foremost realize that her destiny is in her hands and not in the
galaxy and Milken way.

United States should encourage elimination of corruption in Africa and
beyond the shores of the continent. The responsibility of fighting
corruption is too complex and gigantic to be left for one party. Both
Africa and West must partake in the fight against corruption. The West
must enact banking laws that will fish out bankers that accept laundered
money and tainted wealth from corrupt African leaders and bureaucrats.
Ill-gotten wealth must be returned to Africa without much ado, while the
culprits must be exposed and prosecuted.

The West must work together with African governments on the war against
corruption and bribery. Corporations and Transnational companies operating
in Africa must not induce politicians and bureaucrats with bribes in their
quest for contracts.

“African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion
a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds
its way into the international banking system and often into western
banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa, (which the African
experts group recommended in 2002 should be classified as a ‘crime against
humanity’ because of its impact on ordinary people), are often laundered
and made respectable by some of the most well-known banks in the City of
London or the discreet personal bankers of Geneva and Zurich,” including
secret Swiss and off-shore accounts

Swiss traders’ alleged corruption on the buying of Nigeria and Africa’s
crude oil without transparency and accountability was reported by
SWISSAID:

“In Nigeria, Swiss companies bought oil worth $37 billion over the three
years, an amount equal to more than 18 percent of the national
government’s revenues. Payments of this scale that affect the development
prospects of poor countries require public oversight, which has been
largely missing in most of the scenarios described in this report.
Transparency provides citizens with a tool to hold their government to
account for the management of their country’s most valuable asset. To
achieve transparency, we recommend the following: • Oil-producing
governments and NOCs should adopt rules and practices that encourage
integrity in the selection of buyers and determination of the selling
price, including detailed public disclosures on how the state’s share of
production is allocated and sold.

Switzerland should accept its responsibility as the world’s leading
commodity trading hub and pass regulation that requires Swiss companies
producing or trading in natural resources to disclose all payments made to
governments and state-owned companies, including payments associated with
trading activities. In a 25 June 2014 report, the Swiss federal government
indicated a preference to exclude trading-related payments from future
regulation of this kind. If that position holds, the payments described in
this report would remain secret.”

US-Africa Summit is a good start for better relationship for trade and
commerce, but Africa must not think that America must do for her what she
must do for her-self. Africa must stand up and be counted lest the voices
of the prophets of doom will proclaim her irrelevancy and subsidiarity.

Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have
appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other
important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in
many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning
including tagteam Harvard Education. 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.

info@afripol.org http://www.afripol.org

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