While in Europe, even with Macron’s victory in the French Presidential election, it is still not clear whether or not the continent will be able to get any further with its unification process; and while with Trump, the USA is resolutely marching towards what it appears as protectionism and might result in isolationism; in Asia and Africa, also as a consequence of the neonationalist resurgence hitting the Western world (as if two world wars hadn’t taught anything to Europeans and Americans), there is a growing tendency towards a new globalization.
Not by chance at the Davos forum January 17, 2017, Xi Jinping, the first Chinese President who participated in that international meeting, defended freedom of international trade: something not at all surprising given the primary role China has acquired in the world economy. But at the same time, China is pushing forward forcefully what it calls the Belt and Road Initiative, the new name for the ancient Silk Road, crossing Asia between China and Europe. And an impressive series of infrastrutures is being laid throughout the continent, such that the distribution of wealth in that area is growing rapidly. And of course China is also leading new international financial institutions devoted to finance that infrastrutural development, according to a policy which is fundamentally different than that pursued by the IMF and by the World Bank, which, in the name of “freedom of exchange” have effectively often favored a sort of neocolonial approach to developing sector economies.
In the current economic world situation, Africa is the up and coming new potential “superpower”, provided it is able to develop a growing unity and coherence — that unity and coherence that the various nationalist movements are attempting to undermine in the Western world.
And China’s investmeents in Africa are massive, especially in infrastructural development. Just a little example: May 17th, the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has won the bid for building what will be Africa’s highest tower, which will be located in Morocco’s capital Rabat. With its 250 meters, it will become a symbol of African economic development. It has to be kept in mind that the CRCC in just a few years has become one of the most important providers of high technology trains, contributing to what has become in China the most modern, and widest high speed train network of the world.
At the same time, the USA and Europe show a growing disengagement with Africa. Instead of accepting the challanged posed by the Chinese economic growth impulse, the Western world tends to react mostly at the military level, as if the only way to compete were by way of threats and armed intervention — something that the past American Administration had attempted to contain, but that seems to be blossoming again now, with mr. Tramp at the White House.
A critical moment in this policy of disengagement was when in April 2017, US State Secretary Tillerson, after inviting to Washington DC Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union, declined to meet him.
The situation is described and analyzed by Tshepo T. Gwatiwa in the May 17th issue of The Conversation, with these words: “In April 2017 US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stood up one of Africa’s most powerful people, African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki. Tillerson invited Faki to Washington for a meeting, then backed out at the last minute. Former US ambassador to the AU, Reuben Brigety, called the Secretary of State’s snub ‘the dumbest thing in the world’, adding that 21st century Africa has a bigger voice in global politics, which could cost US presence in Africa. That said, Tillerson’s snub was a direct challenge to Africa’s international position and it sends a double-pronged message. First, it signals the return of the US /Africa policy that held sway from 1960 to 2001. In that era, Africa was on the back burner when it came to American foreign policy. Second, this proves that Africa is strategically insignificant to US President Donald Trump’s administration. When you add the rising nationalism in Europe to the equation, the continent finds itself in a precarious position internationally. As such, there’s a clear and present need for African led-states like South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Libya to act in concert. These countries have been referred to as Africa’s Big Five.”
Gwatiwa’s conclusion is: “The AU needs to roll back the capacity-substitution forced on the continent by the west. To do this, Africa must embrace reform. If things don’t change, the continent will remain at the mercy of external meddlers such as the United States, France and others for the next 50 years or more”.
In other words, also Africa shall join the march towards a growing international integration, otherwise known as “globalization”.
While the various nostalgic movements which emerged in Europe and America push in the contrary direction, there is hope that in Asia and Africa a good, sane, globalization based on the idea of progress and of real economic development, takes place. Unless, of course, the various war mongerers holding bits and pieces of power in Europe and the USA, in cohort with the Islamic fanaticism succeed in pushing through further military destabilizations.