South Africa's African Agenda

African Update – 15/05/12

The Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Kgalema Mothlanthe paid a rare visit to Ghana on 19 April - 22 April at the invitation of John Dramani Mahama , Vice President of Ghana. It is significant in terms of a growing realisation of the need for South Africa to develop with Africa.

The visit was within the context of consolidating the African Agenda through enhancing and deepening  political, economic and social relations. Mr Mothlanthe after meeting with the burgeoning South African business community in Ghana, and the President John Atta Mills , took time off to visit the mausoleum of Kwame Nkrumah , an icon of Pan Africanism.

It is worthy to note that the local politics of South Africa has been tinged with bitter accusations of the current Zuma Administration's neglect of the African agenda. Loosely interpreted , it is an African focussed unified cooperation among African States to determine their own destiny as so eloquently and beautifully espoused by the late Kwame Nkrumah.

Ex-President Mbeki was a practical exponent who set the tone in his African renaissance project and since leaving office has been at the forefront of conflict resolution in Africa as well as Pan African projects.

Historically South Africa was designed as an appendage of Europe , with Africans as cogs in the wheel. The other Africa was sold to local blacks as inferior and the countries best avoided. It is still not unusual to hear black South Africans refer to other African countries as "Up there"". Xenophobia has become synonymous to South Africa. But things are gradually changing as other Africans become better known with time and as other African countries join the success list, politically and economically.

South Africa, well steeped in racial history had always sought to identify with the first world, while the first world itself have re-discovered Africa's massive potential.  That outlook has seen the Zuma administration join the economic grouping Brics and the G20 to the neglect of a strong African economic union.

Black South Africa woke up belatedly to discover that the flights from Johannesburg flying North to the rest of africa was filled with white South Africans freed from the shackles of apartheid , busy taking adavantage of massive opportunities that had opened up in a growing Africa. MTN South Africa, has made a fortune in Nigeria. Its shareholders are largely white.There are more than eighty South African companies registered in Ghana. The South African investors are prevalent in the following sectors: mining, retail, insurance, transport, tourism, banking, telecommunication, construction, services, franchising, manufacturing, fishing, advertising, aviation and energy.

A rapidly growing economy has seen Ghana  register the highest growth rate in the world last year at 14.2 %. The nascent oil industry with Ghana joining the exporters club , has attracted interest globally and the South African government has seen the need to nurture an African brotherhood narrative or risk losing out big time. Petro SA signed some lucrative agreements. In recent years, trade between South Africa and Ghana has grown significantly. South African exports have grown from less than R1 billion in 1998 to over R3 billion in 2009. Equally, imports from Ghana have shown constant increase during the same period. Products such as vehicles, machinery, mechanical appliances; electrical equipment, base metals, aircraft, vessels & associated products contributes to the increased exports to Ghana.

The gradual realisation is that Africans should have the confidence to invest in themselves and to invest in one another, or continue to be marginalized in the global scheme of things. Last year Nigerians invested 1.6 billion USD  in the Ghanaian economy. So who needs to go cap in hand looking for money in a collapsing Europe and a bankrupt America. Right thinking South African companies have been quick off the mark and are now reaping the rewards as well as helping improve other African countries with their  superior business systems and technology.

A South Africa government  seeking to diversify sources of oil as well as seeking to invest in the air and rail sector of Ghana has sounded the right note of cooperation as trade between the two countries rise. There were talks as well in the areas of energy security ,energy related technology and environmental issues.

When all is said and done, it has dawned on all right thinking Africans that it is only Africans that can develop Africa. It's a heart thing.  You can choose your friends but you cannot choose your relatives. Better late than never.

By  Pusch Commey: correspondent of the New African magazine in South Africa (For Humanitas Afrika)

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Our library has aquired a number of new and interesting books. Here is the list of the latest titles.

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  • Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 by Karen Elizabeth  Flint
  • Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies by Antoni Verger
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