Modern Africa is developing a subjective sovereign policy based on integration aspirations and anti-colonial ideology. But it also needs strong external partners who will be able to build the right relations with it.
Africa should be a friend – every politician who has ever looked at the continent’s fossil record and demographic forecasts, which determine the source of labour and a huge consumer market, understands this. But only their former colonisers and the deepest pockets in the world – American, Chinese and now Arab – seem to know exactly how to seek contact with countries mired in corruption, poverty and hunger.
All these stereotypes and clichés significantly prevent establishing liaisons with the continent whose life is changing dynamically and seemingly faster than any other in the world.
Let us highlight a few basic nuances, which, of course, are not characteristic of all African countries, but reflect the general trend.
First of all, Africa is rapidly forming the potential and individuality of the community of sovereign states of one continent with common problems and a similar vision of world development.
Whereas in the past local rulers hid their desire for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs behind the desire for eternal rule and unlimited power, today it is a conscious vision of the value of a strong and independent state. In turn, it becomes a consequence of economic development, the formation of a nationally oriented bourgeoisie, a market system, and the education and intellectual growth of local elites interested in the internal development of their countries.
As a result, politicians, officials and businessmen alike are forming a purely pro-African long-term agenda, demanding equal dialogue and respect from external partners. In other words, the battle between the world powers for influence on Africa no longer resembles an auction where a piece of the continent is snatched by the one who pours more into the budget and twice as much into the pockets of officials. Investment programmes and cooperation projects with African countries are now socially oriented and take into account the interests of local markets and producers. It will no longer be possible to export resources in exchange for beads.
At the same time, it should be taken into account that integration processes are strong on the continent. There are 11 regional integration groupings in Africa, as well as a pan-African union, the African Union. There is still a long way to a “united Africa”, but the continent is going along this path almost without alternatives and without major contradictions, and the countries are constrained more by the infrastructural (and, as a consequence, economic) incoherence of the continent and internal political turbulence, rather than by the lack of desire for tighter integration.
That is why experts point to the prospect of not only building bilateral relations with African powers, but also the potential for interaction with regional organisations and the African Union. This is especially relevant for external partners that do not have a colonial past and a reputation marred by a predatory policy of draining resources from Africa and problems of racial discrimination. This is an area where active assistance in the struggle for independence, as well as intellectual and technological support, are valued above all. Africa is mindful of this, especially against the backdrop of the rise of anti-colonialism and the demand for a reformulation of relations with Western states.
Africa therefore generally supports multipolarity and mutually respectful inter-state relations, the defence of sovereignty and the strengthening of the role of developing countries in global institutions and in defining the rules of the new world order.
But in order to build relations, it is necessary to understand what a “political” Africa is today.
It is through co-operation and integration that the countries of the continent declare their course to maintain sovereignty. In the process of joining forces, Africans want to accumulate, rather than lose, their independence.