EDITORIAL: Africa’s relationship with the rest is now based on mutual interests, not patronage

For the last few years, China has been under attack for making inroads in Africa through its cheap no-strings-attached loans and infrastructure footprints. Its continuous involvement has bred hostility among former major players, especially traditional donor countries.

Suddenly, the whole world has been shaken awake that China was taking all the African goodies and they are left holding the shorter end of the stick. Now a new scramble for Africa has begun. But unlike the Berlin Conference, the current scramble is on new terms.

The world today is dealing with a different breed of African leaders, and as President Kagame made it clear at the just concluded High-Level Africa-Europe Forum in Vienna, Austria, all those who want to deal with Africa should do it on equal terms.

We are no longer to be treated like poor relatives but as partners who seek mutual benefits. That is the narrative that is changing the whole geopolitical structure.

The old Western monopoly of African affairs has come under assault, the message delivered and now the European Union has changed its tone on how to deal with the continent; it is private sector-driven investments, technology transfer and job creation that will determine that relationship.

Suddenly India, China, Russia, Japan are organizing joint summits with Africa and all are expressing a willingness to invest, not hand out alms.

The United States woke up too late; perhaps it had neglected the continent for far too long, now policy-makers are singing a different song; for fear of losing its influence on the continent to the likes of China, the US has announced a major investment package.

Africa has learnt to hold its head high, and suddenly, everyone is taking notice.