The Rise of Africa
Africa as a Growing International Power Bloc
(December 9th - December 11th 2010)
Event ReportThe conference ‘’Rise of Africa: Africa as a Growing International Power Bloc’’ took place from December 9th to the 11th 2010 in Berlin. It brought together a group of speakers consisting of leading representatives of local political and commercial bodies, academia and civil society, as well as forty young leaders. The conference addressed many contemporary issues facing Africa regionally and internationally and offered insightful discussion and debates on diverse themes. Among the topics discussed were the potential of renewable energies in Africa, China’s role in the future development, nation branding being used as a tool for attracting investment to Africa, the issue of aid and if it is actually beneficial or detrimental to African economic development, African Diaspora and their potential for uniting and mobilising for the future of Africa, and hope for the future of African regional and international integration.
Forum SpeakersProf. Dr. Berit Sandberg (Professor of Public Business Administration and Public Management at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft)
Prof. Collette A. Suda (Secretary for Gender and Social Development, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development of Kenya)
Daniel Pelz (Coordinating Editor of the Africa/Middle East Programme, Deutsche Welle)
Dr. Halima Noor-Abdi (Regional Advisor on Trade, UNECA)
H.E Mohammed Rachad Bouhlal (Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Federal Republic of Germany)
Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda (African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem)
John Eichler (CEO of Blue Elephant AG - Holding & Consulting)
Laurence Madeline (Curator and Chief of the Department for Culture and Education, Musée d’Orsay)
Mark Donfried (ICD Founder and Director)
Dr. Patrick Osakwe (Senior Economic Affairs Officer in the Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD))
Sandile Gregory Gwexe (Representative of the South African Embassy)
Tumenta F. Kennedy (Program Director for the ''Building Global Cooperation-New Alliances with Africa''Program at the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics)
Yehoeshahfaht Ben Israel (Dr Martin Luther King Institute for a New Humanity)
- ICD House
- Moroccan Embassy
- German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt)
Summary of EventsThursday, December 9th 2010: This was the first day of the conference ‘’Rise of Africa: Africa as a Growing International Power Bloc”, which the young leaders participating in the Cultural Diplomacy in Africa forum had the opportunity to attend. The conference began with the Moroccan Ambassador to Germany presenting the potential of Africa as a producer of renewable energies. This was followed by a lecture on the role of the African Union in regional and international integration. After lunch, the Kenyan Secretary for Gender and Social Development spoke on the future of Africa’s development, with particular focus on the role of gender and the needs of future generations. The final sessions focused on China’s role in Africa's future development and the role of music in facilitating cultural diplomacy.
Friday, December 10th 2010: The penultimate day of the conference began with an examination of Nation Branding as a tool for attracting investment into Africa, as well as a panel discussion debating whether aid is, in reality, beneficial or detrimental to African economic development. The afternoon session examined the role of supranational economic unions and entrepreneurship in stabilising African economies and promoting prosperity. The final session of the day considered the cultural influence of Africa on European art, specifically in the case of Picasso, before the gala event of Egyptian music and food.
Saturday, December 11th 2010: On the final day of the conference, a moderated panel discussion with four eminent speakers was conducted, concerning the power of the African Diaspora and the potentials for uniting and mobilising all those who no longer reside in their native African homeland. The closing lecture and discussion was given on a note of hope, looking forward to the future of African integration. The participants were awarded an official certificate of attendance at the end of the program. The certificates confirmed attendance and provided details of the speakers who took part during the week and the topics discussed.
Thursday, December 9th 2010Central themes:
- The economic involvement of developing countries has evolved and there has been an increase in south-south cooperation.
- These partnerships can be bilateral (China-Africa), trilateral (India-Brazil-South Africa) or interregional (Africa-South America).
- Partners can have a variety of strategic interests in Africa such as market access, resources, support on global issues or all three in the case of Brazil, China and India.
- Between 2000 and 2008, China’s trade with Africa has increased tremendously from 8 Billion dollars to more than 92 Billion dollars and has now reached the second place as main trading partner, after the United States, with a heavy focus on trade, direct foreign investment (DFI) and social aid. This is particularly required in investment of infrastructure, with China having given sub-Saharan Africa $4.5 billion in infrastructure finance commitments in 2007 alone.
- The issues arising with such a partnership are the trade deficit that most of the African countries find each other in with China as well as the constant commodity dependence.
- China’s development activities are concentrated in only a few countries such as Angola, Sudan, Nigeria or South Africa, who are often large oil producers.
- There are concerns about the impact of China’s engagement on governance and debt sustainability because of its lack of transparency and low use of local labour.
- In order to strengthen China-Africa cooperation, African countries should reconcile national and regional interests, be more assertive in the partnership process and ensure that new loans are used to finance projects that increase domestic capacities.
- On the other hand, China should direct more official flows to the promotion of skills, support the transformation of African economies and provide more information on its development activities in the region.
- Improved Sino-African relations have diversified African export markets, lowered consumer prices due to cheap Chinese imports and increased competition in the domestic markets.
Friday, December 10th 2010Central themes:
- Is aid in Africa effective? Possibility of undermining and taking responsibility away from governments and governmental institutions
- There is a need for supranational economic institutions in Africa in order for there to be regional stability
- Entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged in order to foster a strong economy from the bottom up, providing long term development which is not reliant on foreign aid.
- Aid should perhaps be redirected to small businesses and entrepreneurship schemes as opposed to direct support of public services.
- Ultimately a nations development need to come from within and can not be imposed by foreign states.
- The role nation branding has played in order to increase investment and tourism- has had particular success in South Africa and is a model that can be replicated elsewhere.
- Much of the branding of Africa has been in the context of charity, for example live aid
- Charity branding of Africa has had little success, with international aid falling, but is still the primary way in which the continent receives aid.
- Greater success stories are the branding of nations as tourist destinations, with tourism to Morocco increasing greatly in recent years and a significant amount of financial support for Zimbabwe coming from tourism to well-known location such as Victoria Falls. This form of branding should be encouraged to overtake charity branding.
Saturday, December 11th 2010Central themes:
- Many benefits of globalisation can be seen in Africa, such as improved information, jobs, technology and increased movement of people. However, problems such as constant conflicts and corruption means that Africa has not yet benefited from globalisation in the same ways as Asia and South America have.
- Regionalism goes far back in the history of Africa and it has been perpetuated for political and economic reasons with the establishment of initiatives such as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), African Priority Program for Economic Recovery (APPER), the Abuja Treaty, the Sirte Declaration and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to name but a few.
- The perceived failure of globalisation to lift Africa out of poverty has opened a debate concerning the need to either regionalise or globalise African nations and societies.
- Both regionalism and globalism should be used for Africa to reach its full potential.
- Africa is ready to play a role on a global sphere with improved institutions, investment and trade.
- The African Hebrew Development Initiative aims to develop an inclusive framework to create sustainable development projects built on harmony between human communities and their environment.
- Their development projects also focus greatly on water, as it is the centre of human life and is one of the biggest issues for the African continent.
- Life style diseases, such as obesity and high blood pressure, are proliferating at alarming rate around the globe. Bad health is a great hindrance to Africa’s development so the AHDI has elaborated codes of conduct for its community to ensure regular activity and healthy daily lives.
- Organic agriculture is also essential. Although it is less profitable than the way agribusiness and intensive agriculture produces food, it is of pivotal importance to provide access to food of the highest quality for the African people. Ultimately, a healthy population will be more productive and be able to participate in the development process actively.
- These projects are an example of how small scale communities can establish sustainable strategies to combat climate change, prevent disease and enable people to take agency and change their surroundings towards Africa’s rebirth.