Africa’s ‘development partners’ still struggle to define and manage their relationship with the continent. This was apparent at the G20 summit in Osaka that ended on Saturday.
The G20 has been accused of treating Africa exclusively as a development problem, thereby excluding it as an equal participant from deliberations about climate change, the future of work, the global trading system and other mammoth issues the G20 presumes to be capable of addressing.
By extending the influence of the yuan, China could become the new champion of globalisation.
Is China, aided and abetted by the other BRICS member countries – Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – making a bid to dislodge the dollar from its global pedestal and replace it with the yuan? And if so, will it help African countries, in particular, to escape from the iron and often onerous grip of the greenback?
This potentially effective unit is being hamstrung by politics and concerns about using force in peace operations.
The Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the sharp end of MONUSCO – the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – earned its stripes in 2013 when it helped the DRC’s army defeat the powerful Rwanda-backed M23 rebels in the east of the country.
But not a lot has been heard about the FIB since, though it has remained deployed in the eastern part of the country for four years. What has it been doing?
The unit of some 3 000 troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi has a more muscular mission than the rest of MONUSCO to use necessary force to ‘neutralise’ all the ‘negative’ armed rebel groups in eastern DRC. Its second target was supposed to be the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the armed group founded in the mid-1990s by Rwandan Hutus who fled the country after the genocide against the Tutsis.
Africa will miss most of the internationally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the target date of 2030. But it might just reach ‘escape velocity’ enabling it to break out of its extreme poverty orbit by 2045 or 2050.
This is the sense of experts who participated in a seminar on Africa’s future at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria recently.
‘Almost no Sustainable Development Goals will be met without truly revolutionary improvements in governance and the way services are delivered,’ said ISS chairperson Jakkie Cilliers, who also heads the institute’s African Futures and Innovation programme. Even in an optimistic ‘Africa Rising’ scenario projected by the ISS, most African countries would not meet the 17 SDGs.
The principle SDG is to eliminate poverty. But extreme poverty (quantified as living on US$1.90 per person, per day or less) was unlikely to be eliminated by the 2030 SDG target date in any plausible scenario, Cilliers said.
The blueprint for the Great Green Wall is nothing if not ambitious. Quite Canute-like, it would seem.
The aim is to plant a forest of trees about 15km wide, snaking some 7 775km from Senegal on the Atlantic to Djibouti on the Red Sea – crossing another nine Sahelian states on the way – to halt the southward march of the Sahara into the Sahel. This elongated forest would cover about 11 662 500 hectares.
The idea was originally conceived by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 and enthusiastically embraced by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. In 2007, the African Union Commission (AUC) took it up as the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI). Obasanjo seems to have borrowed the idea from China, yet the Chinese precedent is not entirely encouraging. Its bricks and mortar equivalent failed to keep out the Mongolian hordes from the north in the 13th century. And China’s Great Green Wall – launched in 1978 with the aim of creating a forest of trees 4 500km long – has also not stopped the southward drift of the Gobi and other deserts, despite the planting of about 70 billion trees to date.