Victor Kgomoeswana says Africa does not need Europe, but rather cohesion among its member countries, to solve its problems.
Johannesburg – A massive gathering of leaders from AU and EU countries this week invoked in me a longing for an African hero.
It was called the Valletta summit on migration. The venue, Valletta, is the capital of the Mediterranean island nation of Malta.
Yet, again, I appreciated the spirit of the summit declaration and the $2 billion (about R29bn) commitment to solving African migration, but finished reading the documentation a depressed African. How long will Europe, the US or China have to shell out money for “African crises”?
Why do African leaders continue to run to Europe to solve their problems that boil down to two things: Africans are attracted to Europe because they have no faith in their own fellow Africans; and there is no hope on the horizon from where they stand?
Thousands of Africans are perishing in the Mediterranean Sea as rickety, overloaded ferries buckle a long way from their proverbial promised land.
Meanwhile, the summit scrambled to raise e1.9bn, short of the e3.6bn target. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “For the Africa Trust Fund and our response to be credible, I want to see more member states contributing and matching the e1.8bn the EU has put forward.” EU member states unsurprisingly huffed and puffed only to raise a measly e78.2m – not even a tenth of what they were expected to contribute.
“We need more support”, complained Senegal President Macky Sall. How about self-reliance instead, Mr President?
There is a feeling among some African leaders that EU countries are unreasonable in insisting that Africans unsuccessful in seeking asylum in Europe should be returned to their home countries. This is based on the claim that EU countries are hostile towards African asylum-seekers, compared to other migrants who do not have a legal right to stay in Europe.
The humanitarian in me understands this. Knowing the historical role of European countries in fragmenting Africa at the Berlin Conference in the late 1880s, one has to concede that Europe’s colonial effect on Africa has to be redressed with some contribution from the EU. But the shoe pinches us more.
Just as the Lancaster House Agreement reasonably charged the British with a financial obligation to facilitate land reform in Zimbabwe, Africans may object to what they perceive to be a reluctance by EU member countries to help.
But, did anybody remind us that these are EU countries that are battling slower economic growth post-2008? Could Angola and Mozambique reasonably expect Portugal, as their former coloniser, to fix their economic hardship? Would Ethiopia get anywhere demanding recompense from Italy to finance its growth and transformation programme?
What is the contribution of African leaders to the disillusionment of their own subjects, who desperately opt to drown in the Mediterranean in search of a place of refuge?
Conversely, how does a country like Botswana, with its abundant diamonds manage to build such wealth without the catastrophe of its counterparts, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
How did Rwanda recover in less than 10 years from the debilitating effects of Europe-sponsored genocide to lead Africa in progress and decisiveness? The answer, dear Africans, is in ourselves. With a lot of pride, human capital development, selfless leadership, investment in proper institutions and an intolerance for graft, any African country can be the destination – rather than the source – for asylum- seekers. Ask Botswana how many fellow Africans it keeps out every year. Look at how South Africa, even with the limitations of slower economic growth, still attracts millions of economic and political migrants.
Ghana, because of its stability, attracts foreign direct investment – despite the current fiscal crisis.
Africa does not need Europe, but rather cohesion among its member countries, to solve its own problems.
I cringed in shame to hear leaders gathered at yet another summit expecting EU member countries to foot the bill for their failure to create conditions for their own to stay home and build their countries.
As much as we cannot dismiss the Valletta summit, African leaders need more campaigning back home to hold one another accountable to deliver a better Africa to their people.
Otherwise, even the AU’s Agenda 2063 will flounder unless funded by China, the EU and everyone else. In doing so, we surrender our right to self-determination. We are worth more than we have become.
* Kgomoeswana is author of Africa is Open for Business and anchor of Power Hour, which broadcasts from Monday to Thursday on Power FM. He also writes a weekly column for African Independent. Twitter Handle: @VictorAfrica
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