Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Coming US-Africa Summit

The Coming US-Africa Summit

In the coming week, America’s president Barrack Obama will be hosting African heads of state and leaders in Washington, DC. Obama is the first African-American to be elected president of the United States. This is his second and final term in office and he has been able to visit only about four countries in Africa since becoming president. Thus, the US-Africa Summit this week will afford him the opportunity to interact with as many African leaders from as many countries as possible. In this regard, America is copying Japan, China, India and other emerging powers who have since institutionalized their engagements with Africa as a whole periodically.
Africa has played key roles throughout history. African resources helped to build most European countries through the outright theft of these resources during colonialism. African slaves helped to build the new world, the Americas. Today, Africa is the last frontier where all established and emerging powers are running to for development. Over 60 per cent of the total arable land in the world is in Africa. African mineral resources are helping to keep the industries of the world moving. But Africa, the richest continent, is paradoxically also the poorest.
For Africa, this US Summit is coming against the background of mass poverty, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, ethnic and religious hostilities as well as leadership crisis in the three major African countries – Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt – among others. For the US, the summit is coming against the background of US failure to stabilize Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, among others, which has discredited American leadership, has shattered the concept of an expanding Europe as a major global player, and has reignited Russian geopolitical aspirations in especially central Europe.
Complicating official perceptions and tempering public expectations at the end of the Cold War was the fact that the world America inherited as its ward on the eve of the 21st century was neither historically at ease nor truly at peace. Since then, experiences have taught us that even the world’s paramount superpower can go badly astray and endanger its own primacy if its strategy is misguided and its understanding of the world is faulty, as discerned by many careful analysts.
In reality, historical speculation cannot be the basis for specific policy recommendations given changed circumstances, unexpected events and novel challenges. And the Bush II administration, just before Obama, had chosen to propagate an atmosphere of national and even global fear in the face of an inherently unclear and unpredictable threat. America embarked upon what it called war against terrorism even though terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare – political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.
The a-historical character of America’s misadventure in Iraq further highlighted the limitations of a strategy primarily dependent on force. Compounding the dilemmas of a war waged by an administration lacking historical perspective is the psychological and even visual identification of American conduct with Israeli practices. The American actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and around the world have so far divided its allies, united its enemies and created opportunities for its rivals and ill- wishers as many discerning analysts have concluded.
Moreover, America has turned democracy into a subversive tool for destabilizing the status quo. It has subscribed to the wrong notion that electoral democracy could be imposed from outside. The American policymakers have failed to understand that American political tutelage is not only unwelcome to most but bitterly resented by many. Greater coherence in national policy calls for correcting this widespread bad impression. America must remember that loss of soft power reduces “hard power”. As a result of this misunderstanding and misreading of many global events by the US, America is losing friends and losing credibility all over the world.
The foundation of the US power is the dollar. That was why former American president Richard Nixon said “The dollar is our currency and your problem”, because of the primacy of the dollar in international trade. Consequently, the developing countries in general and Africa in particular are exporting capital to the developed countries. Thus, if Africa is to develop, the Lucas paradox — “capital flow from South to North” — has to be arrested and discouraged. In the other words, capital flight has to stop and all African resources should remain in Africa to help develop the continent with its own resources and not grants and aid.
The IMF and World Bank have pushed for deregulation, for free market economies, for free movement of capital or what is collectively called the Washington consensus. We now know that these are the reasons for the global financial crisis and for it affecting the world economy. The impact has been enormous and has contributed to the de-industrialization of Africa. In any case, the Washington consensus is not applied in Washington. And, in a global economy, there is need for institutions to help manage the process of globalization because, after all, markets do not regulate themselves.
The financial, environmental, food and energy crisis require new institutional mechanism or framework to manage. This is a crisis we cannot get out of by leaving it to market forces. Intervention by governments is necessary because there is need for political decisions. Nowadays, there is a consensus that government has to play a more strategic role in economic management, because markets are not only imperfect but require regulation to function well regardless of how powerful the invisible hands of the market may be.
We, as Africans, must not shy away from arriving at the obvious conclusion that, regardless of his African roots, Obama has an American mandate. Thus, we must not expect much from the US because of Obama, if we are to be realistic. And if the US under Obama is to really help, the best way is to help Africa recover its resources looted over the years by corrupt leaders and their external collaborators and repatriate these to Africa for development. If these resources were repatriated to this continent, Africa would not need any help from outside.
In fact, most of the aid from the developed world to Africa is targeted at the social sector, not production. Similarly, growth is not mentioned in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); only social issues. Thus, the MDG is not a comprehensive development agenda as there is no mention of technology transfer, employment generation, investments and value addition. These are what will spur growth and development which are the issues the ordinary people of Africa want addressed during the Africa-US Summit in Washington next week if Obama is serious about African peace, prosperity and sustainable development. History is on the side of the oppressed.

Friday, 11 July 2014

[AfricaWatch] Tanzania vs. Rwanda - military comparison



Tanzania vs. Rwanda

Military Comparison

Military branchesTanzania People's Defense Force (Jeshi la Wananchi la Tanzania, JWTZ): Army, Naval Wing (includes Coast Guard), Air Defense Command (includes Air Wing), National Service (2007)Rwanda Defense Force (RDF): Rwanda Army (Rwanda Land Force), Rwanda Air Force (Force Aerienne Rwandaise, FAR) (2013)
Military service age and obligation18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; Rwandan citizenship is required, as is a 9th grade education for enlisted recruits and an A-level certificate for officer candidates; enlistment is either as contract (5-years, renewable twice) or career; retirement (for officers and senior NCOs) after 20 years of service or at 40-60 years of age (2012)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 9,985,445 (2010 est.)males age 16-49: 2,625,917 
females age 16-49: 2,608,110 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 5,860,339 
females age 16-49: 5,882,279 (2010 est.)
males age 16-49: 1,685,066 
females age 16-49: 1,749,580 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 512,294 
female: 514,164 (2010 est.)
male: 110,736 
female: 110,328 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP0.9% of GDP (2012)1.3% of GDP (2012)

Source: CIA Factbook


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