[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Henning Melber on G8 & emperor's Nepad attire
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun May 6 01:00:22 BST 2007
The G8 and Africa
The Namibian - 2007-05-04
WINDHOEK: Since the beginning of this century the G8 started to
cultivate a special intimate relationship with representatives of a 'new
Africa' in response to their courting.
Not by accident, German chancellor Angela Merkel announced, as host for
the summit which takes place in Heiligendamm early June, that "reform
partnerships" with Africa would rank among the priorities on the agenda.
That does not, however mean it will happen.
Already in Kananaskis (when the events in the Middle East replaced the
African priority) and in Gleneagles (after the bomb attacks in London)
the originally announced focus on Africa was overshadowed by other
matters and the African representatives had once again to play the
This time, it looks like the climate change issue will push Africa out
of the limelight yet again (though its people might be among the biggest
victims of the effects of the unabated environmental pollution) and
relegate its leaders to the backbenches.
true partners? Chancellor Merkel used her speech at the World Economic
Forum in Davos to declare that an emphasis during the German presidency
over the G8 (and the EU) would lie on the question as to how Africa
could be more strongly integrated into the global economy.
Her personal representative at the G8 Bernd Pfaffenbach, confirmed
Heiligendamm would seek to enhance a partnership between the G8 and
These declared intentions for the agenda by this year's hosts should
ring warning bells: Further integration into the global economy and
closer partnership with African leaders as priorities of the planned
interaction merits the question as to where the interests of the people
of the continent remain.
After all, neither globalisation (ever since the days of the slave
trade) nor collaboration of African leaders with the powerful elsewhere
(no matter which political or ideological orientation the systems these
represented were promoting) provided meaningful lasting benefits for
those majorities on the continent who struggle daily for survival.
The further integration of African societies and their economies into
the world market (a process, which anyhow since colonialism was much
more advanced than in most other regions of the world) suggests in
contrast an even more systematic exploitation of the continent's natural
resources and an intensified expansion into local markets.
Under the current 'liberalisation' schemes promoted and regulated by the
World Trade Organisation (WTO) the access of external capital to
providing privatised public services and goods as well as the control
over so-called intellectual property adds to the further reduction of
state autonomy and local (including indigenous) capacities to act in the
interest of the people.
Privatisation of such calibre does not bode well for some of the core
tasks of a functioning state, namely to provide basic services in the
public interest (including the poor) and to protect the weakest (not
that the people in Africa had ever seen or experienced much of this anyhow).
NEPAD rules! Since 2001, The New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD) became the African trademark for the kind of collaboration the
G8 and other OECD countries favour and support.
It was in the pipeline as a blueprint since the late 1990s and emerged
as a result of a fundamentally new constellation on the continent, after
South Africa (since the mid-1990s) and Nigeria (since the end of the
1990s) as the two regional economic powerhouses, left behind their
While Apartheid in the one case and the military dictatorships in the
other case, had limited the operational spheres of the regimes earlier
on, the new governments represented politically acceptable (if not
praised) success stories that democratisation works.
Considered also as strategic regional "anchor countries" for the West,
the two economies make up some two-thirds of the total GDP of the whole
of so-called sub-Saharan Africa.
They are the most attractive potential partners to the outside world
(leave aside the resource-based economies, which through oil,
strategically relevant minerals and other natural assets such as
diamonds stimulate desire for entering deals with local culprits and
Joined by the Senegalese autocrat Abdoulaye Wade, and with the support
of Egypt and Algeria, the South African and Nigerian heads of state,
Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo as the actual NEPAD architects,
marketed most prominently the new blueprint.
As a matter of fact, all three African leaders in the triumvirate since
Genoa 2001 each missed only one of the six G8 summits.
For many NEPAD symbolises mainly the emperor's new clothes and boils
down to a recycling of the old conditionality-story, only now under
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