Africa will benefit from multilateral relations – World
Africa should benefit from all its multilateral commitments with major countries.
The continent has become the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of participating countries. The African Continental Free Trade Area has created a whole new development path by harnessing Africa’s resources and the potential of its market, which is home to around 1.4 billion people in 55 countries.
Today, African countries, in partnership with major countries like China, have in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged economic, social, health and structural reforms that could pave the way for sustainable development. Thanks to these multilateral commitments, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a report in June that foreign direct investment in African countries reached a record $ 83 billion in 2021, despite the severe effects of the pandemic.
In addition, the scramble for Africa in the 21st century has seen an increase in multilateral engagements, such as the Russia-Africa Summit, the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, the EU-Africa Business Forum, the China-Africa Cooperation and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
All of these multilateral engagements in one way or another have transformed Africa through programs focused on strengthening democracy, human rights, peace and security, infrastructure development, commercial and financial cooperation, among others.
However, some of these initiatives undermined Africa’s sovereignty and governance system and imposed stringent measures that scuttled the growth and development of the continent, while others, such as FOCAC, transformed the Africa into a world power of development and growth.
In 2019, at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to invest $20 billion over three years through the private sector Japan, with a focus on promoting Africa’s development through people, technology and innovation. However, due to the pandemic, very little progress has been made on the pledges.
On August 27 and 28, Tunisia hosted the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
As Japan’s first engagement with Africa, the conference series was created to promote high-level political dialogue between participating African leaders and development partners and to mobilize support for African self-reliant development initiatives. However, some African scholars believe the conference was established as a platform to use African countries to propel Japan into becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
In 2003, at the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development, Japan called on the international community to support the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, a program of the African Union. However, the AU’s development agency has been rocked by controversy, with some African countries describing it as a “neoliberal initiative” primarily tailored to South Africa’s strengths and interests at the risk of increasing regional disparities. and social.
Nevertheless, 29 years after the establishment of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, Japanese investors and companies do not seem convinced to do business in Africa, despite the launch of the JETRO Japan-Africa Business Forum & Expo.
Figures show that in 2019, about 796 Japanese companies operated in Africa, compared to more than 10,000 Chinese investors and companies in Africa.
Moreover, with Japanese companies’ low confidence in doing business in Africa, Japan has virtually no trade agreements with African countries, beyond the standard duty-free and quota-free programs for least developed countries. Only four African countries – Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Zambia – have tax agreements with Japan.
On the other hand, entering the new era, President Xi Jinping has put forward the principles of China’s African policy, centering on sincerity, concrete results, friendship and good faith while pursuing good commonality and common interests, charting the course for China’s cooperation with Africa. . These principles have embodied China’s foreign policy with Africa.
China-Africa relations have grown steadily over the decades and become one of the biggest stories of the 21st century.
Within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China is helping to transform Africa into a global economic giant through the implementation of the nine programs of the Dakar Action Plan in the areas of health and medicine, poverty alleviation and agricultural development, trade promotion, investment promotion, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, peace and security.
As Africa eagerly awaits the outcomes of the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, the continent must use the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as a blueprint and strategy to engage with its stakeholders multilateral organizations to ensure win-win cooperation.
The author is Executive Director of the Africa Policy Institute’s China-Africa Center in Kenya.