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Leaders should not sell Africa to the highest Western bidder

Friday October 25 2019

By DAVID KIGO

African wonders seem plenty and amusing. After the continent’s leaders made several trips to China for business development and bilateral meetings, which ended up with more loans and grants being promised, most states on the continent now have to reckon with the repayment of the debts as China is slowly closing the money taps. The continent will soon start feeling the heat when China starts recalling the loans.

African leaders have now been invited to Sochi, Russia, to attend the first Russia-Africa summit that might end up in the same style and manner of past meetings in China and Japan.

BENEFICIARIES

Our African leaders have also been involved in meetings with Japan, now popularly known as TICAD, where goodies were dished out, with Kenya being among the biggest beneficiaries. The US, Britain and France are also in the game. Africa appears open and eager to receive suitors, though this enticement almost always ends up in exploitation.

China has already secured what it all along wanted. With industries and an economy that requires all available energy resources, Africa presents the right source with its unexploited and potential energy resources.

Russia is coming in on a platform of environmental conservation and restoration of nature. Russia is talking climate change after the US disowned the Paris agreement. It is preaching to African leaders that it is ready to fight alongside them when it comes to climate change because the continent is the most affected.

EXPLOITATION

Russia is coming in as a protector of the environment from Western exploitation. It is still in the Cold War mode, but aims to enter the continent and also claim its own slice of the available energy resources, just like China and the US. Talk of a cunning, sly fox.

Will our African leaders now in Russia read this script well? Do they see themselves as pawns in a well-choreographed game by these superpowers? Most of them, however, will not see the larger picture and will be enticed with the loans that they are accumulating without a care in the world. Russia’s total investment in Africa is at about $4 billion. Compare this with almost $200 billion that China has invested on the continent and you will wonder why the leaders all trooped to Sochi.

The time has come for African leaders to look for home-grown solutions to their problems and stop putting the continent on sale to the highest bidder.

DAVID M. KIGO, Nairobi