As we enter 2010 there are two things that happened in 2009 that should serve to remind our African leaders about the need to look for new answers for the problems facing our continent. One was the global economic crisis and the other was the Copenhagen conference on climate change.
Let me start with the economic crisis. Economists say that economic crises never happen overnight.
They claim that a crisis, like the one which visited the world over the course of 2009, is a result of years, even decades, of global change. They say that such a malady is brought about by rot emanating from policy errors and investor miscalculation.
Thus as we enter the year 2010 it is clear that in 2009 the whole world had to reckon with the worst economic crisis in almost 80 years. The trigger was the collapse of many US-based financial institutions, which came tumbling down like a pack of cards.
Lesson number two is the danger of ‘western dependency syndrome’. The world, observers believe, will never be the same again.
These pundits say that the crisis has altered the role of the West in the world economy. Ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain exactly twenty years ago in 1989, the grave dangers the whole world placed itself by relying on just one power has been too obvious.
As we enter the year 2010, the concerted effort to get out of this crisis seem to be bearing fruit, with Asia leading the way out.
Now that the crisis is over, how can policy-makers in Africa nurture the gains already made after the recovery while making sure that mistakes made out of western dependency is avoided?
The world economy may be over the worst but in Africa we are still caught up in our normal quagmire. While the East is providing something new to the world, Africa needs to start looking at how to address its problems with a new set of solutions as well.
Apart from the economic crisis, the other sad reminder on the need for Africa to change its systems of problem-solving was the outcome of the Copenhagen conference.
In the conference, Africa was largely ignored as the world tried to get to terms with another crisis- this time emanating from the abuse of the environment.
What is especially annoying is that it is still the West that is largely to blame for this mess while Africa continues to bear the brunt of this mess.
If Africa had gone to Copenhagen as a single entity like China did then things would have come out differently. Most probably we would have come out with what we wanted; some sort of a better concession.
For the world to have given China so more attention means a lot. China, only twenty years ago was being regarded just like any other third world country.
Things have now changed. We must seek ways of turning the tables the way the Chinese did. Surely it cannot be rocket science.
The divide and rule tactic by the West has continued employ to place us at the bottom of the pit must be battled.
We need something new especially when we consider the fact that China became a world power in just a space of only twenty years.
Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah is a journalist with The New Times.