Africa is blessed with a rich bounty of world’s known mineral reserves. It holds around 30% of the world’s total important minerals, which includes gold, platinum, titanium, uranium, chromium, copper, manganese, lead, phosphate, palladium, nickel, cobalt, bauxite, antimony, asbestos & a lot more.
Now a very simple question arises that how a continent with such great treasure can remain so poor in today’s world? Is it only because of tactical illegal smuggling of such minerals to other countries without benefiting the common people of the land or the post-colonial exploitation by the developed countries? Whatever the reason maybe, but the harsh reality is that, such illicit flow undermines the socio – economic growth of the “Son of the Soil’s”.
Rather than providing the basic human needs like health, education and infrastructure the political elites with the help of their foreign masters are busy building their own wealth & force the common Africans to live in dark age without any basic human needs.
Out of 738 million people living in the African region, less than 50% of African people have access to modern health facilities.
While the WHO reports itself raises an alarm about Africa naming it the “world’s most dramatic public health crisis in the region”, but the steps taken by them till now to save these unfortunate peoples are themselves under doubt. Due to poor health system & infrastructure, Africa is most vulnerable for widespread diseases. The WHO provides a comprehensive analysis of key public health issues such as:
Africa comprises 11% of total HIV/AIDS patients of the whole world. HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of adult death in Africa region.
An estimated 300-500 million Malaria cases occur in the world, Africa contributes a shocking figure of more than 90% of the total patient worldwide.
Out of 20 countries worldwide having the highest newborn mortality ratio, Africa remains in top 19, Africa also has the highest neonatal death rate in the world. Only 58% of people living in the African region have access to safe water supply. In such an environment life threatening diseases are unavoidable.
“Health is wealth”, good health is not only the key of any nation’s success but it is also a basic human right but it seems the champions of Human Right’s completely forgot that Africa also exists in the very same world where highly flourishing continents like USA and Europe also exists.
Due to weak surveillance systems & poor health infrastructure mainly caused by the outbreak of Ebola in Africa especially West Africa. Ebola spread across Africa to more isolated, rural areas and even densely populated urban areas through transmission. On August 2014, looking at the worsening situation in Africa, WHO declared a Public Health emergency of International concern (PHEIC) for Ebola.
A total of 28,616 cases were caused by Ebola Virus (EVD) & 11,310 deaths were reported alone in West Africa.
COVID 19 in Africa
The global outbreak of COVID-19 emanating from China has sent the world in a state of panic. The whole world is trying to fight the pandemic. As of now there is no vaccine invented for this deadly virus. Lockdown is the only effective precautionary measure as of now that the world can take. But many countries are already facing the consequences of the lockdown.
Lockdown due to COVID-19, is disrupting world markets, stalling global trade, challenging the health care system of the states. With over 2,573,471 active cases & 178,558 recorded deaths worldwide due to COVID-19 it has raised a red alarm for the whole world.
When even the most developed countries like United States, Italy, France, Germany etc. having the world’s best health care system have already kneeled because of this deadly virus, one can only imagine the situation of third world continents like Africa, which don’t even have the basic health care system in place.
Now the question arises “Are African countries ready to handle the deadly outbreak of COVID-19”?
It seems the champions of Human Rights, the developed countries especially the western countries have left the African people on their fate.
China being the key investor, major business partner and the largest trading partner of Africa has more than 1 million Chinese living in Africa for business purposes. Here the point to remember is that China was the first exporter of this deadly virus & Wuhan the Chinese city was the epicenter of COVID-19. Another thing to note is that thousands of African students study in Chinese Universities, as Chinese investment and training programs drive a significant amount of African ecosystems.
While the whole world knows the ill intention of the Chinese to colonize the third world countries having weaker economy & internal conflicts/stability issues, by giving them millions of dollars with the highest interest rate in the name of investment. Knowing the fact that these poor countries will never be able to pay back the loan will result in these countries becoming the Chinese economic colonies of present day and the future.
Whereas on the other hand it is expected that the Chinese economy will itself stumble due to COVID-19 outbreak, hence slowing down China’s participation in Africa’s economic ecosystems.
Is China wanting to make African countries as future Chinese Colony?
China wanted to challenge the dominance of US in global trade hence it tried to build an alliance with African countries to legitimize its undemocratic communist regime.
Chinese eyes in the African region were mainly because of Africa’s exploitable natural reserves, oil, & minerals. As African leaders were under pressure to liberalize their respective economies, China got a golden opportunity to lure them with billions of dollars of investments (with highest interest rates) without any realistic plan of growth & trap them with an overburdened debt, without proper infrastructure which in turn stopped them to run any kind of profitable business. In return the Chinese wanted to grab the African minerals through resource backed deals.
China promised so called loans for building roads, bridges, highways, airport, power dams for Africa but their terms were to use Chinese contractors only. In addition, deals were made on weak financial, technical & environmental conditions which gave Chinese officials an upper hand. With easy lending terms, non-competitive bidding, corrupt & poorly managed government’s responsibility, such easy borrowing terms from China has in turn forced the Africans to seek further Chinese financial help & pushed the African countries in a debt-trap-strategy.
As an outcome, the African countries will end up with huge debt, and the poor infrastructure will not allow them to run any profitable business hence it will bind them to borrow more and more loans with no proper payback plan, resulting them into becoming Chinese colonies. This under developedness will cut Africa from the rest of world as well. As we know still most of the African countries do not have direct flights, trains or even road communication with the rest of the world.
India’s role to save debt trapped Africa?
While China is determined to make Africa its colony & exploit its rich minerals & other natural reserves but it left Africa alone in this crucial time of COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, a developing country like India who itself is fighting hard with COVID-19 along with many economic hardships, unemployment, terrorism & other internal problems but is all set to help Africa in all possible ways & has already declared its support towards Africa to “help unconditionally”.
Unlike China’s aggression policy, India is trying to help Africa through bilateral partnership with African countries which can be best defined by the spirit of developing together as equals. India has send HCQ to a lot of African Nations free of cost or as aid, besides that a lot of medical aid is being send to African countries in these tough times from India.
Another fact which remains unsaid is that Africa is surving and fighting back all its medical challenges including that of HIV because of the affordable medicines supplied by India. As per reports India contributes to 90% of the medicines used in Africa on very very affordbale prices and strives everyday to save lives.
India emphasizes on Africa’s long term productive capacity by providing skill exchange programs, manpower sharing programs, knowledge transfers & by investing in small & medium enterprises, rather than offering her with high interest loans. For the year 2017-2018 bilateral trade between the two were USD 62.66 Billion & during 2019 has reached USD 69 Billion in the first quarter itself. In terms of investments, India is the 5th largest country estimated at around USD 54 Billion.
India has been criticised for not having a clear vision for Africa. But certainly, India is focusing to build a strong & equal partnership with Africa which in long run will help Africa to come out from the debt trap of China. There is no doubt that India’s involvement in Africa is positively impacting the lives of Africans. But it is also true that the ties between the two are yet to reach its true potential. India’s main challenge is to bridge the gap between realistic plans & wrong practices and India has appointed various commentators, analysts, practitioners to overcome this situation.
Meeting between Africa & India to be held in 2020 to discuss important points
- The status of implementation from Indian side was welcomed by African Union representatives. Out of the total USD 10 Billion lines of credit promised by India under IAFS-III, more than USD 6.4 Billion LOC has been committed or ongoing.
- Out of the USD 600 Million target of grant assistance under IAFS-III, an amount of more than USD 700 Million has already been committed or ongoing.
- India has completed more than 40,000 slots for training, scholarship & capacity building, out of the total commitment of 50,000 slots under IAFS-III.
India recently completed big projects in Africa within due time such as Presidential Office in Ghana, National Assembly building in Gambia, Kosti Power plant in Sudan, Rift Valley Textiles factory in Kenya, water treatment projects in Tanzania, sugar factories in Etiopia & IT Parks in Mozambique.
In last 4 years India has also established the following:
- 6 IT Centers (South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Lesotho, Ghana, Nambia, Tanzania)
- CGARD Technology Centre in Madagascar
- 7 vocational training centers
- Various food processing business incubation centers
- Entrepreneurship centers
These are the few examples how India is trying its level best to change African people’s lives positively. Now that India is in a speed to deliver its project is faster than ever, its foremost task is to maintain the momentum, find new areas of cooperation & review the progress in regular intervals.
Africa is realizing the fact that it will never be able to match the un-realistic expectation of China & finds India as a ray of hope. Whereas China is flexing its muscle in terms of economy & militarily, India on the other hand is not at all interested to take part in the competition.
India’s partnership with Africa is demand driven, based on cooperation, free of conditions, mutually benefitting and quality in all terms. As India believes in “Vasudaiba Kutubakkam”, which means that, the world is one single family.
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