It’s Time Africa Acted Over Its Wealth

That Africa needs to redress the huge gulf between its wealth and its poverty is a foregone conclusion.

Statistics of outflows from Africa against inflows in everything from aid, foreign direct investment to remittances will boggle the mind.

But you already know that.

What Africa needs to do about it is another matter altogether. President John Magufuli seems to agree with the view that there is outright robbery which must come to an end.

Others, and especially so if they are beneficiaries, feel foreign investment shall be destabilised if radical adjustments are made.

There needs to be common ground because radical approaches will do more harm than good. However, we must begin by establishing some hard truths as to where the rain began to beat Africa.

Not so much as to the timing, although that too is of significance, but to the complicity of a combination of factors that have enabled Africa’s wealth to continue to make Western capitals glitter in diamonds, gold and silver while Africans remain basket cases worth of pity.

Back in the old continent, we are our worst enemy. Africans are hopelessly divided on the basis of nations and our friends in the richer world exploit these divisions to the maximum to the detriment of Africa.

Take the on and off case of common external tariff in the East African Community (EAC). We have everything in common that includes natural resources. Many of the people in this region share common ancestry, traditions and languages. Unfortunately, our politics, which drives decision making, are also shared in their naivety. None of which convinces us that tourists visit our regions not because of our common borders, but to enjoy flora and fauna that do not share such a myopic view of national borders.

Year after year in schools and colleges, our curriculum still takes the view that each of our nations is self-sufficient and that its worst enemy is the sister nation next door. We continue to exhort the war across the River Kagera to remove Iddi Amin as if it was a war between Tanzania and Uganda. It wasn’t.

Recently no debate has dominated headlines more than the ban on mineral concentrates and its ramifications.

Last week, at the Annual Mwalimu Nyerere convention at the University of Dar es Salaam, Professors Bathily of Senegal and Lumumba of Kenya spoke very passionately about African unity.

This war that Dr Magufuli has started has been waiting for someone to start it. It needs one to be bold, daring and willing to face the consequences for consequences shall be there.

But in the bigger context, the two professors are right that for this war to be won the approach must be Afrocentric. That means this is really not about Acacia versus the government of Tanzania. Our friends, if you notice showed up with the Canadian High Commissioner to Tanzania. It tells you this matter goes beyond Acacia. It’s an economic war.

There is a chance now for us to engage as a region and get the best of us to prepare in advance for negotiations. There will be conditions ahead of negotiations. This is a hurdle we must be prepared for.

International diplomatic stakes are in high gear. Lobbying is going on out there; we cannot afford to wait to get EAC, South African Development Community and African Union on our side.

Individual countries too, for after all, the same North Mara Gold Mine belt stretches into Macalder Mines in Kenya and Acacia have an interest there as well.

We should remain firm and focused, unleash the best for this country and the continent to have a win-win deal. That will depend on how well we are prepared to face this onerous task.

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

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