NEW DELHI - President Paul Kagame yesterday spoke on the subject of the “changing global political economy” and its implications for Africa.
The President expressed his views on the matter in a speech delivered at the famed Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) as he wound up his two-day Indian trip, which started Monday.
“I wish to make the case that the changes in the international arena, especially the broadening of economic powers beyond the dominant Western Axis of North America, Western Europe and Japan are positive for Africa,” he stressed on the on-set.
But Kagame was quick to point out that for Africa to significantly benefit from the changes, this would depend on the continent’s ability to own and execute a focused development agenda hinged on creating effective markets for greater trade and investment.
Taking time to recount on the shifts, he noted that the “changing global configuration” has coincided with significant reforms in Africa and that the global reach of new economic powers known as the BRIC economies – Brazil, Russia, India, and China has already had a considerable impact in Africa.
“You are well aware of various initiatives by China, India and other countries at forging partnerships with African leaders individually and collectively,” he said, stressing that he had visited India to engage with business and political leaders to strengthen business relationships.
Kagame also brought to light and took to task Western tendencies to upset this new partnership.
“In this context,” he said, “there are concerns about these relationships, in the West – where they are often described as “exploitative” and “the New Scramble for Africa. “To those analysts, institutions or countries with such a mindset we should say – “wait a minute here, the West divided and scrambled for Africa, colonized it, exploited its natural resources for centuries; changed and installed governments of its own choice, imposed policies, provided hundreds of billions of dollars of tied aid whose result in terms of improving lives was dismal; and now that there are competitors for doing business with Africa, you cry foul, instead of seeing opportunities?”
“We should further ask: And what is wrong with attracting more Foreign Direct Investment into Africa?”
“What we really need is to broaden FDI beyond the extraction of natural resources into value-addition for sectors with maximum spin off capabilities into local economies,” he said.
His final question on the issues was - “Why are Western investments into Chinese and Indian markets or the two countries’ investments into Western economies desirable, but inappropriate for Africa?”
Kagame thus stressed how Africa and its partners can engage in more productive relationships to significantly benefit its people, an issue he considers, “very simple.”
“With responsible governments and good corporate citizenship, we must ensure that the agreements we enter into are fair, equitable and indeed able to endure the test of time,” he said, further explaining that this depends, “most importantly”, on African countries having comprehensive strategies for the future that shape domestic as well as external partnerships, and in which all players have a stake.
“This is the basis for any successful socioeconomic transformation endeavour,” he said, adding that “clearly,” global economic management systems and processes designed at the end of the Second World War are no longer in keeping with contemporary socio-economic realities.
“The fact that new key players have emerged – and are actively engaging Africa, is both timely and welcome. Such countries bring more to Africa than trade and investment – they constitute role models as they have made admirable socioeconomic breakthroughs,” he said.