The change Americans embraced some few months ago has started to spread around the world as we look forward to welcome it in Africa soon. The President of United States, Barack Obama who is also an African descendant and who has been an icon of the change is coming to Africa through Ghana in July. With obvious reasons, our local media are making lots of noise about his visit especially choosing Ghana as his gateway to Africa even though former American Presidents including Bill Clinton and George Bush respectively did the same when they came to Africa. This may be because of Ghana’s history of democracy and good relationship with the USA but rumours are pointing hands to the recent oil discovery on our shores – which could also be a good reason – or perhaps both. Notwithstanding these debates, the fact of the matter is for us Africans to use this opportunity to seek cordial but pragmatic relationship with the USA.
A cordial pragmatic relationship should be built on mutual respect which transcends economic and social relationship. Thus a mutual respect which recognises Africa as any other continent in the world enjoying peace and equal opportunities. But the reality is that Africa is facing tough competition and huge hurdle to attract American investors especially in the current economic crises since news about Africa is mostly about poverty, political instability, war, chaos and unrest continent. The point is, like any other continent, it’s not surprising that disarray may arise within a section of the region on the continent but most western media attribute such occurrence to the entire African continent, unfortunately. That is once it’s in Africa then it means the whole Africa is affected. Even though I didn’t live to see my great grandparents, my grandmother who is still alive but close to 100 years old never experienced any war in her lifetime which I believe most western folks may doubt based on what they see and hear on the news about Africa.
This is not only a historic disappointment but the upshot has been negative opinions and attitudes towards Africa with accompanied rippling effects including fear for potential investors to explore our continent which is full of untapped potentials, resources and opportunities for the good of the world. You would be interested to read more on “Money Talks in Africa like Everywhere else”. And the high rate of unfounded refusal of visas for African travellers to the United States.
It is our hope that President Obama’s visit will help unveil the true image of Africa to the United States and the entire western world. Many African countries have good economic prospects – particularly given the demand for natural resources from India and China. Mining, agriculture, and tourism are the flywheels of the African economy. Collectively these generates majority of the foreign exchange earned by most African countries. Unfortunately technology which is the vital tool today in development of all sectors including communication and transportation is what is lacking most in Africa. Get more insight from “Africa The Place to Be”
Africa seeks a new direction and focus today, where the western media will concentrate on the peace, prosperity, good governance, democracy which most African countries including Ghana are enjoying. A new direction, where American and other international investors will be keen to explore and invest in Africa – this we believe will help absorb some of the shocks of the economic crises. We seek a new direction where focus will divert from competition to partnerships and collaboration for the good development of the world and humanity. More partnership programs ranging from education, health care, security and technology. More collaboration programs in capacity building on all fronts of development.
Utilising technology to bridge the knowledge gap between Africa and the developed world – making it possible for educators and kids in Africa learn with kids in the USA, Europe, Australia, Asia, etc. in a secured online platform. Not implementing the “One Laptop Per Child” program which realistically is three or more children per laptop – for the fortunate few, unfortunately. Encouraging and promoting more exchange learning programs for the youth of Africa and developed nations for multi-cultural understanding. It’s time to live in the future but not in the past.
Mistakes have been made, some good stories have been untold and opportunities have been limited if not denied in Africa, but now is the time to join hands to solve the world’s problem together based on mutual respect, while creating a new world of possibilities for the future generation and for all of humanity.
Quote from President Barack Obama:
...the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.”
“Akwaaba” – Welcome home - President Barack Obama
© Harry Tetteh