In the context of a strong plea for reparations and debt relief from China for its recent predatory behavior in Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former vice president of the World Bank and former Nigerian Cabinet minister, made a startling admission.
In a recent opinion piece for The Globe and Mail newspaper of Toronto, she wrote:
[W]hile there have been calls for voluntary international aid to support the continent during this difficult time, this is a fundamentally misguided proposal.
The solution is not giving aid to Africa … .
The current model of development assistance is broken; it can never deliver any real change of fortune.
Meanwhile, American aid continues to flow to Africa, including tens of millions of dollars for COVID-19 relief. Short-term relief is appropriate, but a central part of the U.S.’ long-term mission to assist African countries needs to be a renewed American effort to promote economic freedom throughout the continent.
An economically free
and fully sovereign Africa is clearly in the broader foreign policy interest of
the United States.
The Trump administration’s Africa Strategy correctly pinpointed that “the predatory
practices pursued by China and Russia stunt economic growth in Africa; threaten
the financial independence of African nations; inhibit opportunities for U.S.
investment; interfere with U.S. military operations; and pose a significant
threat to U.S. national security interests.”
As a matter of fact,
China has posed a growing challenge to American interests. Chinese officials
have talked about the perils of foundational American
principles, such as the protection of human rights and democracy, and
increasingly offer their own authoritarian developmental experience as the one
best-suited to African countries.
China also frequently
has criticized what it says is the unfairness of the
unipolar international system, a system that significantly contributes to
American security and prosperity.
In its annual Index of Economic
Freedom, The Heritage Foundation has long highlighted
the economic benefits of free markets for developed and developing countries
The U.S. cannot give countries in
Africa the political will that they need to transform their economies according
to free-market principles. However, it can, through consistent policy dialogues with
its African partners and by providing technical help, ensure that it’s
supporting the cause of economic freedom in Africa.
Now, the economic shock has been caused by a crisis that emerged from China. It is one that has badly reduced the opportunity Africa would otherwise have had to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty and reduce inequalities. …
We need a new governance model that strengthens citizens so they can engage in the design of their pathway out of poverty and build health and economic resilience.
Indeed, it is time for Africa and the
U.S. to work together to outline the road map for lasting freedom, opportunity,
and prosperity, based on the principles of economic freedom.