President Obama just concluded a conference of African Heads of State. The conference was the first in our Nation’s history, which is a sad commentary in America’s relationship with Africa. I believe the conference needed to happen, even if only for historical purposes. The President of the United States, an African-American, in the rose garden taking photos with African leaders; the symbolism of this historic conference can’t be ignored. The concern I had for this conference is we have been “talking” about the issues of Africa for the past twenty-five years, since colonial rule left Africa to fend for itself. Millions of dollars, both public and private funds have been thrown at Aid to African economic and social issues. Missionaries from around the world have come to save Africans from themselves, and yet day after day, year after year, decade after decade Africa always seems to be in a constant two steps forward five steps back economic situation.
The conference took place in part because the Chinese government came to African leaders bearing gifts, promising large sums of money, and to rebuild communities ravaged by civil war. The catch to all their philanthropy is, all this good stuff comes to Africa only if they allow China to bring in “non-African” workers who pillage their national resources like so many European countries have done in the past. An article Angola’s Chinese-built Ghost Town by Louise Redvers states that “the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation spent reportedly 3.5 billion on housing in Kilamba, Angola for the rich and powerful. The mortgages for these homes are between $120,000 and $200,000 for people whose average income is less than $2 a day.” The American government cannot allow China to buy their way into Africa. China buying the loyalty of African leaders and cornering the market on African natural resources is a direct threat to Americas economic power and influence. President Obama needs to convince the African Heads of State that American Capitalism is a much better business option than Chinese Communism.
I believe the only way Africa is going to improve its place in the world’s economic structure is to broker a deal with America. A deal that would not only invest in rebuilding African nation’s infrastructure but more importantly educating their people to produce and export their own goods. The process to accomplish this objective will not be easy nor will it happen overnight. The people of Africa, not just the leadership must be a part of the equation to bring economic stability to the great continent.
There is an old saying “give a man a fish he will eat for a day, teach a man how to fish and he will eat for a life time”. Educating and training the people of Africa to be self-sufficient in producing and exporting their national resources would greatly improve Africa’s standing in the word market and lift millions of Africans out of poverty. America playing a role in Africa’s economic recovery would create strong allies throughout the continent in a part of the world where America has few friends.
What better way to defeat communism than to teach people the power of capitalism from the ground up and at the same time to empower themselves? This is the very essence of what American foreign policy is supposed to be, spreading American democratic and economic principles to a part of the world searching for answers.
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