Africa's future lies with Asia
SEPTEMBER 2019, 12:32PM / DAVID MONYAE
The world sleepwalks into yet another recession triggered mainly by the raging US-China trade war and the senseless tensions over the future of globalisation. One major collateral damage of these global tensions is Africa.
In June, the World Bank revised Africa's economic growth projection from 3.3% to 2.8%.
However, African governing elites appear either unacquainted to the impact the trade war and tensions, particularly in Asia, have on their economies or they think that they are sheer innocent bystanders.
The sad reality is that given Africa's strategic relations with Asia - clearly shown by the huge trade volumes with the region, particularly China - it cannot afford to stand aside and look.
There is an urgent need to realise that beneath the US-China tension lies some elements of the struggles of the past; the attempt by Washington and to some extent western countries to reassert their hegemonic position on a global stage. While the rise of Asia and China in particular opened up opportunities for Africa to develop, it has unnerved the US and former colonial powers.
Africa's trade with the US and European countries remains critically important, a rising Asia has, however, afforded the continent with an alternative source of investment.
Therefore, events in Hong Kong, the nuclear crisis in North Korea, trade tensions between Japan and South Korea, and the South China Sea are of great importance to Africa.
Africa's history has always been intrinsically linked to that of Asia.
At the height of colonialism and the Cold War in 1955, Africans and Asians gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, to cement a strong bond against western economic, political, cultural and technological dominance.
The ANC's Moses Kotane and Maulvi Cachalia represented the liberation movement at this gathering of African and Asian countries. Subsequent to the Bandung conference, the Non-Aligned Movement was formed in 1961, and today's BRICS countries continue to give an alternative voice of the Global South on matters of global governance.
The current US-China trade war evokes images of the Cold War.
However, under the prevailing circumstances, Africa is given priority rather than cursory attention as was the case during the Cold War. Asian countries have been very active in courting Africa, doing so through bilateral trade, but also through multinational initiatives, such as peacekeeping. China has particularly done well in stepping into the breech where other countries seemed to lose interest or hope. This has often happened through providing investment and taking up enterprises that have been abandoned.
The brand of ultra-nationalistic politics and the calibre of politicians gradually assuming positions of immense power in the Western regions gives Africa one more incentive to co-operate with regions that see potential in Africa.
The continent cannot afford to be left behind. By 2050, more than half the global population of young people will be residing in Africa.
Therefore, Africa has a huge stake in how the future will be shaped and ideally it should be a leader in engineering a future that will secure the good of all humanity.
This could be done in consonance with Asian countries, that also have a huge population.
While the world's future would be better without the acrimony that the US-China trade war has provoked, Africa has to work through the prevalent climate to be clear about what it wants, and firm in the pursuit of its goals. The continent needs human development through education and economic growth.
Without taking sides, an objective observation seems to point that China has more prospects of helping Africa in this than the increasingly insular western world.
* Monyae is the director for AfricaChina Studies at the University of Johannesburg
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.