US election and the road ahead

Monday November 5 2012

Americans go to the polls on Tuesday. It used to be that what happened in the USA, and the kind of leader they elected, had a great impact on the course of world events.

It still does, but there are other parties going on the world. Equally important, if not more so for Africa’s and Kenya’s bread-and-butter, is what happens two days later in China.

There won’t be an election, but a selection of the next Chinese leader by the ruling Communist Party that begins its congress on November 8.

In 2009, China overtook the USA as Africa’s leading trading partner.

Apart from the natural economic cycles, the one thing that can sure threaten Africa’s growing trade with China is a US leader who chooses to aggressively confront an increasingly assertive Beijing for supremacy in Asia.

China, in that instance, could behave like the Soviet Union — choose to divert resources away from productive sectors of the economy to expensive security projects to rival the USA. That would slow down business with Africa and the rest of the world.

If President Barack Obama retains his job, as many in Kenya hope he will, he probably will be freed by the fact that he will not be seeking re-election to engage more consistently with Africa.

In this respect, the US could learn from China, Brazil, India and other nations which are taking Africa more seriously, and not just as a recipient of charity and disaster aid, but as a trading partner and investment destination.

America remains a powerful force for good in the world today. But it must realise that it can’t bully it’s way through every situation. It must work with others and give every nation a fair chance to peacefully follow its own destiny.