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Is Africa an international player?

by guest writer Basamba Drammeh

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INTORODUCTION

54 countries covering a space larger than the US, China, India and Europe combined. Africa today has a GDP reaching in 2015 USD 2,250 billion equivalent to the size of the Italian economy ; Africa tomorrow, this will be additional USD 508 billion in terms of goods consumption by the end of 2021 ; Africa in longer term, this would be the largest working force in the world in 2035.

Africa has a dual face: promising and risky. Africa is one of the most dynamic region in the world with Asia with an average growth rate of 5% between 2005 and 2014, even 6% excluding South Africa. 10 out of the 20 most dynamic countries in the world are currently located in Africa. The potential demographic dividend is huge, extreme poverty declined and an African middle class is growing. In parallel, the context has changed since 2014 and macroeconomic challenges are growing. Fiscal deficits have increased in many countries causing some debt sustainability concerns. Finally, a growth more inclusive is crucial to reduce inequalities and to make it more sustainable in the long run. Such a large continent hides huge disparities.

The pillar of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which is the framework for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa as part of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) has achieved a tremendous success in determining whether a peace missions in Africa is necessary or not and without its approval through AU ;no peace keeping can take place in Africa. It continues -making efforts in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa since its inception.To ensure the realisation of its objectives and the attainment of the Pan African Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, Agenda 2063 was developed as a strategic framework for Africa’s long term socio-economic and integrative transformation. Agenda 2063 calls for greater collaboration and support for African led initiatives to ensure the achievement of the aspirations of African people.

GROWTH AND EXPECTATIONS

By and large, Africa’s economic growth rate and its burgeoning youth population have added weight to the “Africa rising” argument – a term coined to describe Africa’s rapid economic expansion since 2000 – and have shifted the dominant view of a region widely dependant on international aid to one that is engaged in global trade and commerce. However, despite these developments, progress in Sub-Saharan Africa is still patchy and dispersed. Weak structural reforms, corruption and inadequate infrastructure continue to overshadow progression. Low economic growth in 2016 and 2017, largely owing to sluggish external demand and a slowdown in the Chinese economy, has slowed the region’s growth prospects for the medium term. Such reduced levels of growth will undoubtedly add to the pressure already felt by national governments in their capacity to cope with job creation and urban development, alongside bigger issues such as climate change and social unrest.

Meanwhile, Africa’s population continues to grow. According to UN estimates, Africa’s share of the global population is projected to increase from roughly 17% in 2017 to approximately 26% in 2050. The population of Nigeria alone is projected to exceed that of the US by 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. Importantly, the size of Africa’s future population will be crucial to the size and distribution of the entire global population. With this in mind, it is necessary to consider Africa’s current role in global affairs and in particular its representation within international organisations such as the World Bank, IMF, the UN Security Council and international forums such as the G-20. At present the region’s ability to play an active role in determining its future on the global stage is curbed by its lack of representation and voice in such organisations. This is despite the fact that a common aim of these organisations is to stimulate sustainable development within the region. Is change possible?

Historically, the creation of the World Bank and IMF stemmed from the dominance of the US in world affairs after the second world war. And similarly to those early years, present-day representation in these organisations and others consists mainly of the US and other developed nations. At the IMF, the Executive Board is composed of 24 directors, of which only two represent a total of 46 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This compares with countries such as Germany, France, the UK and US that hold one executive director position each. Although the size of a country’s economy comes into consideration, the number of countries in both Sub-Saharan African groups contrasts notably with others on the Board. At the World Bank three executive directors represent member countries from the region and within the confines of the G-20 the African Union simply holds an observer status. However the relationship between the region and the West is beginning to change.

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AFTERMATH OF GDP REBASING: NIGERIA ELIGIBLE FOR G20 TO JOIN SOUTH AFRICA ?

Only recently, Nigeria has been touted to become one of the 15 largest economies in the world come 2050, under a neology, MINT which refers to the economies of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.

With Nigeria’s new GDP which has knocked out South Africa from the ring of leading economy in the continent, analysts and international players are of the opinion that the most populated black country in the world is eligible to become a member of G20, a group of major economies comprising developed nations, representative of the European Union and developing countries. South Africa is representing Africa in this enviable group which came into being in 1999 and which 10 years later replaced G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.

Globally, the G20 economies account for around 85 per cent of the gross world product (GWP), 80 per cent of world trade, and two-thirds of the world population. Already, because of Nigeria’s compelling potentials, one of the top members of the group, France had already expressed the desire for Nigeria to join the G20 given its relevance in world economy.

In 2015, French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, who gave this hint in Abuja, said France was eager to use the AFD (Africa Development Agency) to boost Nigerian economy to ensure that Nigeria becomes a member of the G20, adding that this was the position of the then French president.

“We do not think that a country so big in Africa ‘s GDP could be sidelined when it comes to discussing world affairs,” de Labriolle said.

Only Nigeria has the potential to become a player with global significance. But this would require far-reaching changes in its current domestic stability, governance capacity and political leadership, which is an unlikely scenario. All other African countries are expected to remain so-called ‘minor powers,’ which affects Africa’s influence in issues of global governance.

The AU still suffers from huge disparity between its different member states, which make full cooperation an issue. lack of robust democratic processes in some member states remain a challenge for the promotion of a true Pan-African Parliament. What seems certain is that the distribution of relative power in Africa will remain multipolar, with various countries fulfilling the role of regional leaders.

Despite the great indication that Africa would rise and become a global player Health issues : combating malaria and the AIDS/HIV epidemic, political issues: confronting undemocratic regimes and mediating in the many civil wars, economic issues :improving the standard of living of millions of impoverished, uneducated Africans, ecological issues :dealing with recurring famines, desertification, and lack of ecological sustainability and legal issues : regarding Western Sahara remains a challenge and if not confronted and settled then Africa’s prospects to the global seat is delusional and unattainable.

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