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Chindia Africa and the West's responsibility

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 28/10/2015 Ahmed Charai
OBAMA LOS ANGELES © shutterstock OBAMA LOS ANGELES

The 3rd edition of India-Africa Summit was attended by no less than 54 nations across Africa. New Delhi has clearly demonstrated its determination to develop its cooperation with Africa.

This increased cooperation is not limited to raw materials, even though we know that India and China both have enormous requirements for raw materials. The cooperation covers all areas including major investments and substantial deals in return.

"Chindia Africa" is the term used by observers to define this strategic option. And it actually lives up to its codename. By 2030, the three components put together will boast a population in the neighborhood of 5 billion people. We know that the growth rates of the Asian giants exceed 5% annually even when losing momentum. In Africa, the average rate is 5%, a figure that needs to be taken cautiously because it conceals socio-economic disparities. Stable countries are achieving double-digit growth, while others torn by conflicts are seeing their development hampered.
India and China have adopted the same low profile when it comes to politics. Even in countries where they have significant economic commitments, both official diplomacies see to it not to interfere be it even in the most discreet way.


Where is the West?

This situation is historically new. In the morrow of independence, former colonizers considered the colonies of yesterday as their own preserve. An approach that led in various instances to armed intervention, if not behind-the-scenes manipulation to influence the course of political trends, economic or otherwise in a way that serves their best interest. However, the initiation of democratic transitions in Africa, and the commitment to a more rationalized and citizen-driven governance, led to a substantial weakening of the tutelage provided from afar by former colonizing countries to the clear benefit of India and China.
Nevertheless, it remains in the national interest of France and Britain, yesterday's dominant forces in Africa through the France-Afrique an the Commonwealth, as well as that of the United States, to devise a new vision to win the hearts and minds in Africa. To be sure, the stakes cannot be higher. And these superpowers would not want to turn their back to a continent rightfully considered by pundits as the biggest reservoir of growth in the foreseeable future and well beyond. This is not only some sort of an economic imperative but rather a moral duty.
The West is called upon not to desert its role as the standard bearer of human rights, democracy and the pursuit of peace. This role cannot be abdicated in the face of the many challenges we need to face not least of which the fact that democracy and development are two sides of the same coin. African countries stood in this respect as the most eloquent example. The highest growth rates are achieved in the countries with the most successful transitions, without being necessarily endowed with the best assets in terms of natural resources.

The task at hand is to find the right approach. In our opinion, it is by being firm on principles, while taking into consideration the weight of history and cultures. We can thus contribute to access to modernity, through democratic institutions in this continent, which regained hope after decades of disaster. The role of civil society is key to uphold inclusive democratic values and check and balance transition processes.

During his speech before the African Union, President Barack Obama criticized several blunders in the process of building democracy in Africa. Presidents modifying their countries' constitutions to stay in power, the situation of women, and the lack of independence of the judiciary. "You may have a democracy on paper, but not in substance" said President Obama. The tone is firm, the situation is cristal clear, but we cannot rely on occasional rhetoric to effectively influence the course of history.

The American NGO, UADF, "United for Africa's Democracy Future" is the prime example of the structure that can carry such an approach as it aims to promote an objective and INCLUSIVE approach across the various democratic structures in Africa. The word "inclusive" is crucial in this context because it involves taking into account the historical and cultural specificities of each experience.
Only democracy will bring shared prosperity, which should be the ultimate goal of development.
In this quest, The West, especially the USA can also count on successful experiences in countries like Morocco thanks to its geostrategic location, its strategy favoring a multifaceted cooperation and its consistent and proven support for democratic reforms.
As a bastion of stability on the doorstep of an often-turbulent continent, Morocco is also a rising economic power, whose burgeoning economic and commercial links--across the continent and beyond--and its expanding contributions to regional political stability and security make it an especially attractive portal for investment and a significant US partner in Africa.
With numerous fragile African states, part of the threat lies in the radicalization of these countries' youth populations by Al-Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated merchant of death. Morocco, a globally-renowned sanctuary of Islam's moderate Sufi "mystical" brand, has both the credibility and human infrastructure to compete and beat these hardline networks on the ground. Few months ago, Rabat inaugurated the "Mohammed VI Institute" for the training of Imams including more than 400 foreign nationals, ecoming largely from Mali, Guinea, Conakry, Ivory Coast, and Gabon (not to mention Tunisia, France, and Belgium). Numerous African leaders have sought Moroccan advice and expertise in this area.

With regard to the National Human Development Initiative, launched by the King Mohammed VI 10 years ago, it has positively impacted the status of nearly 10 million low-income Moroccans, half of whom live in rural areas. This move favors a strategy of decentralization of aid efforts, enabling local NGOs to tailor their approach to specific conditions in their areas.
During his last visit to Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, and Gabon, the king was willing to export these efficient practices to his southern neighbors through 500 partnership agreements covering health, infrastructure development, governance, and education.

In Addition, A number of Morocco's top companies have been key to the country's integration project in Africa and Moroccan firms are also active in infrastructure projects across Africa, including those in support of other investors.
Moroccans and other Africans are bewildered by Washington's apparent willingness to cede market share in Africa. All are concerned that the United States's comparative neglect of African economic development may help condemn the continent to continued insecurity and rising
religious extremism if economic needs of the rapidly growing populations are not addressed.

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