EU aiming to counter China, Russia influence in Africa with summit
European Union leaders want to reassert the EU’s influence in Africa and counter the growing influence from China and Russia across the continent during a two-day summit in Brussels.
The EU-African Union gathering starting Thursday was initially planned for 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and agenda issues. It will be the first time EU and African Union leaders meet in that format since 2017.
The European Union will pledge half of a new 300 billion euro ($340.9 billion) investment drive launched to rival China's Belt and Road Initiative.
But the meeting also takes place just as France and its allies said on Thursday they would begin their military withdrawal from Mali.
European and other wealthy nations were heavily criticised for hoarding protective equipment and later vaccines during the pandemic, with some African leaders saying the slow pace of donations could lead to "vaccine apartheid".
Exploitation of Africa: From past to present
The exploitation of Africa began in the 16th century with the procurement of enslaved people and the subsequent export of the most fit and strong members of Africa's population. And it continued with colonization in the nineteenth century.
The Scramble for Africa, which is also referred to as the Partition of Africa and Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, as well as colonization of African territory by mainly European powers during a short period called the New Imperialism (between 1881 and 1914).
The 10 percent of Africa that was formally under European control back in 1870 increased to almost 90 percent by around 1914, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia being able to maintain independence.
European motives included (but were not limited to) the desire to control the continent’s valuable natural resources, rivalry and the quest for national prestige, in addition to religious missionary zeal. Internal African politics also played a role in all this.
The 500 years of European slavery and colonialism seriously harmed the economy of the entire African continent, almost destroyed the African societal structures, and also undermined the psychological self-assurance of Africans.
Neo-colonialism is certainly the number one problem to Africa’s economic and political development. Let us look at France for instance.
14 African States declared their independence from France: Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Congo-Brazaville, and Gabon.
However, when those states declared independence from France, the French government put all the former colonies in one group termed ‘compulsory solidarities.’ This basically meant that those independent states would need to pay 65% of foreign currency reserves to the French treasury and 20% for their financial liabilities. Therefore, each colony has only 15% left to use from their own money.
But the west cannot keep exploiting Africa in the many forms that it currently does without cooperation by some corrupt leaders from inside the continent.