Obama and Africa: Are we asking the right questions?
Everyone is discussing what impact an Obama administration might have for Africa and so am I. This is an important topic, no doubt. I am glad that we are all excited that change has come and this change might affect Africa in new ways. My concern is whether we are asking the right questions about the impact that an Obama presidency might have on Africa.
We all would love Africa to get past being the continent that everyone is looking to help all the time. Some have even talked of an Africa fatigue in some circles; that is, too much dependence on foreign help, assistance, and aid. Whether this is helping the continent or not is a question of debate.
If you ask me, I would say, I don’t know. Truth be told, no one really knows. No one really knows where Africa goes with an Obama presidency. Everything we are hearing right is all speculation. But I hope it turns out that Africa is a focus of the Obama administration and things turn out for the benefit of those who need help on the continent; the people suffering from HIV/AIDS, those without water and food, and quality education.
Now the real question is about what has already been done for the continent. I don’t think we can talk about what African can expect without talking about what it already has received from the USA. It may not be too much but nothing is too little to move the continent forward in new ways.
I think this is important. Perhaps, it is not just a question of getting help but how the money that is given to Africa is being used. I am not talking about corruption or mismanagement because there are those who would be quick to divert attention from the real issue and get off track on this subject. The money that is lost to corruption and mismanagement, though an important part of the pie is only a fraction of what the continent receives from official development assistance (ODA) and spends on capital projects.
The real question is this, does Africa need to spend its resources more on development projects and education and telecommunications infrastructure or does it need to spend more money on democracy efforts so everyone gets a voice and a chance to know and understand what is going on?
Do you get the point?
Does the continent need to spend more on human capital and stop brain drain or does it need to spend more time seeking technical assistance from developed nations such as the U.S and China?
What would Africa be like after 8 years of an Obama administration? Would the continent have changed dramatically or would we be looking for another person and asking how their administration would benefit Africa?