President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana answered a Chinese student at JFK School of Government at Harvard on his 75th Birthday, about his biggest trading Partner, China. It is a question burning the minds of many Africans as well. Stories of Chinese take over in Zambia has gained notoriety lately. If there is a leader Africans want to represent them on equal footing at international forum, Akufo Addo of Ghana is it. Just as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Robert Mugabe were respected, though disliked.
Addo answered the student that the trade was certainly not money in exchange, as was done before, for Ghana’s resources. It was money for value: as it generates profits, China would be paid back. This is important because most African countries borrowed money both partners know full well that it could not be repaid; forfeiting projects. It has greater implications for the future generation of youths, not only in Ghana but in Africa.
Old Ghana, had so much Gold in reserve, it was named Gold Coast. Ghana, like most African countries had been disenfranchised of their economic rights in disguise for the new western “civilization”. This is why it is so painful that many African countries are repeating the same mistake with China. We must negotiate by one Model African Voice.
Africa countries need Models we can use for different trade deals and finances. We can use successful result between China and Ghana. Africa Trade Union will be bigger than those of European, Asian Pacific or North America Trade Zones. If they negotiate with us as an African Economic Union, every country will become a watchdog, cutting down on endemic corruption, French v. English African speaking countries and Religious bias.
Users of these services and structures must also realize that they do not come free of charge and must be willing to pay reasonable fee for their use. Even local wood bridges linking villages or land command a fee villages pay owners before crossing. In raining seasons, young men carry fat folks across demanding fee before service. Profit became incentive to maintain the planks in good condition. Unlike politicians padded roads cost.
Though President Akufo Addo was reassuring, we are weary of African politicians giving us a rosy speech, picture or blueprint during their reign only to leave us broke, in worse situations than they met us. It was during their military and political reigns that African countries were lured into Structural Adjustment and multiple currency Devaluations.
Akufo lamented the reluctance of Nigeria to sign Africa Trade Agreement. Nigerians are worried about porous borders that have turned their Country into dumping ground for foreign goods depots set up in neighboring countries. Even raw and refined oil products are smuggled out of Nigeria for profit by unscrupulous Nigerian businessmen. Despite local production of cement, it is more expensive because of arbitrary profit in Nigeria.
Corrupt business must be checked in Nigeria, not at the expense of Intra-African Trade.
It is one thing to cry for Ghana Gold Reserve but if you are looking for a case in point for unprecedented foreign income and how prodigal children wasted it, look at Nigeria and the curse of oil. Foreign income turned Nigeria into harboring world greatest amount of people living in poverty. African Youths are so desperate, poverty turned us xenophobic, barbaric and they join the caravan heading across the sea and desert risking their lives.
Akufo Addo realizes that the cocoa industry generated over 100 billion dollars for the manufacturer of chocolate industry. Oh, they give foreign Aid! But Cocoa growers today receive 1.25 US dollars a day, below the threshold of absolute poverty. Mere 6.6% of value of a ton of cocoa sold. In 2014 the total global retail value chocolate confectionery sales reached a staggering 100 billion dollars – an increase of 20 billion from 2012
President Buhari of Nigeria kept asking each time they want Devaluation, which African country ever came out in a better shape. But he was forced to go along as a civilian President. He had once been overthrown as a Military President for adamantly rejecting Structural Adjustment in 1983. Though the story of Structural Adjustment is now history. Unfortunately, it has crippled Africans since the 80s. Devaluations vindicated Buhari.
The unsuspecting insidious false sense of hope in foreign aid does not impress or fool Akufo Addo. He is now spearheading free and equal trade that had been preached by Kwame Nkrumah, a man before his time. Before the Arab Embargo in the 70s, Nkrumah had tried to accomplish as equal partners, a fair price for Cocoa Producing Countries; not dictated to. Indeed, Nkrumah’s lead on cocoa embargo was in effect until it could no longer hold because of pressure by Western consumers on South American countries.
It was after Nkrumah, the Arab Oil Embargo achieved their asking price. Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi had also preached for Fair Trade, not Foreign Aid. When Western countries take developing countries to the cleaners by buying their raw materials and goods for pittance, selling the same back to us for value. They give less than half of one percent as foreign aid. It satisfies their guilty conscience since African Mumu are happy!
Chei! One can only wonder when Africans are going to realize that the same Structural Adjustment that devastates our economy was made even worse by Devaluations. If they get our raw material by paying us pittance, they still ask that our money be devalued so that they could buy more resources cheaper. Only London School of Economics or Western-trained economists implement such regressive policy on their fellow Africans?
It is now obvious and clear that no amount of money can make you rich if your foreign income is thrown away by buying vanities and ready-made goods without negotiating for your own manufacturing and maintenance industries. We can even steal and copy their inventions like Americans did to Britain and Japanese or Chinese to Americans. Nobody would give you enough foreign aid to compete with them. Fair and equal trade means you have to negotiate what you get, nobody gives you what you deserve.
It felt good when Akufo Addo stood man to man with the President of France Emmanuel Macron in Ghana and told him Africans want fair trade, not foreign aid. It reminded some of us of how Mwalimu Nyerere stood up to President Reagan letting him know Africans could not keep on doubling tons of cocoa in exchange for a single tractor each time they want. A form of yearly devaluation. Better still, Africans are now making some of their own tractors but we have to increase our effort as producers not consumers.
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”
Reproduction is authorised provided the author’s permission is granted.