The global impact of ongoing systemic changes in modern Africa

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The global impact of ongoing systemic changes in modern Africa
The global impact of ongoing systemic changes in modern Africa

Africa-Press – Eritrea. I once called it the “African Spring,” akin to the “Arab Spring” that started in Tunisia in 2010. I was listening to an interesting United States Senate Defense Committee briefing conducted on May 13, 2024. During the briefing, US Army General Michael Erik Kurilla, the 15th Commander of the US Central Command, and Marine Corps General Michael E. Langley, the sixth commander of US Africa Command, updated the senators on their strategic military concerns globally, particularly focusing on the threat posed by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China in various regions.

Discussing the African situation, General Langley emphatically warned the US lawmakers about the gradual expansion of Russia’s and China’s influence, particularly in the Sahel, and more generally across Africa. He noted that the West and the USA, which once had absolute strategic control everywhere, are gradually losing their foothold. General Langley suggested certain vital measures to contain the Russian and Chinese efforts aimed at politically, economically, and militarily replacing NATO and US influence on the African continent.

He further underscored the worrisome coups that recently occurred in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, where military leaders have overtly indicated signs of favoring Russian and Chinese cooperation over the long-time Western influence and dominance previously enjoyed in the continent. The whole session illustrates a polarized world, dangerously pitching Western interests against Russo-Sino interests, reminiscent of the Cold War-era superpower friction, although not yet at the climax of a potential third-world war level that almost erupted in the past between the Soviet Union and NATO.

However, what stands out today in African politics is the awakening of emerging military leaders who are firmly determined to break the Neo-colonial shackles of French and, by extension, Western control of African economic systems throughout history. Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have become classic examples of Francophone nations rebelling against French Neo-colonialism and rapidly realizing remarkable benefits from discarding France and bonding with Russia and China. Interim President Capt. Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso, interim President Assimi Goïta of Mali, and President Abdourahamane Tchiani of Niger are not the common rogue military leaders who used to seize power, replace ineffective authorities, and perpetuate systems of autocracy, hopelessness, and corruption while collaborating with Western nations in their exploitative policies towards impoverished Africa. Instead, they have been more pragmatic, accountable, and transparent to their people.

Similarly, in Senegal, where political change took place in March—luckily not through military means—the new leaders seem genuinely inclined to reform the decadent system perpetuated by all four previous presidents since independence. The first President, Léopold Sédar Senghor, the second President, Abdou Diouf, the third President, Abdoulaye Wade, and the fourth President, Macky Sall, all oversaw governments that rigidly protected and enhanced the neocolonial policies and interests of France while the majority of the Senegalese people benefitted minimally. However, with the emergence of their fifth President, Basiru Diomaye Faye, his government is finally breaking this cycle of exploitation and poverty.

This does not necessarily mean that Senegal is antagonizing France; instead, it signifies the implementation of new policies that are mutually beneficial to both nations, rather than a one-sided arrangement. Critics and cynics have lamented that replacing French and Western interests with Russian and Chinese interests is tantamount to jumping from the frying pan into the fire because “both entities are merely after their own interests” and not those of Africa per se. To the extent that conventional wisdom holds that all nations must prioritize their own interests before those of any other country, this hypothesis holds some truth.

Nevertheless, considering the exploitative or supportive nature of the two competing blocs, it is evident that the historical track record of Russia—the Soviet Union in particular—towards African nations before and after independence was more favorable than that of the Western colonizers and their enabling neocolonizers. It is worth remembering that without the support of the Soviet Union in those difficult days, the victory through resistance against Apartheid in South Africa, in white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Angola might not have materialized.

Nevertheless, after granting independence to their African colonies, whether through peaceful or violent means, the West ensured absolute loyalty from our pioneer leaders. Those who deviated faced dire consequences, such as assassinations, regime changes, coups, and economic sabotage. For instance, President Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, President Modibo Keita of Mali, and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana all fell victim to Western-backed coups that derailed their political and economic ambitions due to their perceived disloyalty.

More dishearteningly, the West installed and supported dictatorial military leaders in Mali and Ghana, similar to their creation of oppressive regimes like those of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire and “Emperor” Jean-Bédel Bokassa in the Central African Republic. These leaders, despite their terrible human rights records and the atrocities they committed, were backed by the West, leading to widespread corruption and the systematic impoverishment of their nations.

Furthermore, the West has burdened the continent with insurmountable debt while allowing France, through an inconceivable post-colonial pact, to extract $500 billion annually from its former African colonies. This exploitation is compounded by the encouragement of kleptocratic politicians who embezzle over $50 billion from public funds, depositing these stolen assets in offshore accounts and European banks.

In contrast, Russia and China do not condone such recklessness. They do not encourage modern African leaders to illegally transfer public funds to secret banks for safekeeping, nor do they entice them with choking loans.

The system changes being implemented by the new governments of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal aim to establish corruption-free administrations. These governments are determined to ensure that not a single penny is surrendered to former colonial powers and, most importantly, to prevent politicians and officials from embezzling public funds. The goal is to create governments that are not obligated to deposit any part of their foreign reserves in foreign banks but will instead trust their own central banks to manage these reserves according to the nation’s needs and aspirations.

Imagine Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger agreeing to create their own currency, supported by their collective resources, and establishing a central bank where they can invest together and reap the benefits.

Did you know that France invests the $500 billion in foreign reserves deposited annually by its former African colonies without their knowledge of where it’s invested or how much it appreciates each year?

I am confident that Africa is swiftly awakening from this slumber, and there is no turning back.

Source: The Standard Newspaper | Gambia

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