During the ongoing African Union of Broadcasters General Assembly taking place in Kigali, President Paul Kagame raised a very pertinent question: Why the rights to broadcast African football competitions – being held on African soil – are held by outsiders and not Africans themselves.
They end up charging extremely high prices that many countries cannot afford to broadcast, even when their national teams are playing.
Why can’t African countries take African matters in their own hands? The above illustration is just one of the many examples where African countries have delegated their rights to be managed by others.
None is more explicit than the CFA franc zone, a group of 14 countries, 12 of them former French colonies who have no money of their own but use a common currency that is guaranteed by the French treasury, ever since before independence.
Some former colonies realised they were being ripped off and left to create their own currencies. Guinea was the first to do so in 1960 followed by Mali two years later. Mauritania and Madagascar did the same in 1973. But Mali’s estrangement lasted 22 years before it was coxed to rejoin.
The CFA zone has a combined population of about 150 million, approximately that of the East African Community. The difference with those two blocs is that the economic prospects and sustainability of one of them is determined by its own people while the other is in the hands of a foreign power. Without mincing words, CFA survives on the whims of France’s economic performance.
It is a paradox that will not change as long as many African countries fail to change their mindset and strive to stand on their own two feet. Let us hope that the signing of the Continental Free Trade Area, slated for Kigali next week, will be the starting point to self-determination.