Your Excellency, Mr. President,
The initiators of the Alternative Report on Africa (RASA) present you with their deferential tributes and congratulate you on your accession to the presidency of the African Union.
The RASA is a new and essential initiative of renowned African and international institutions (Enda Third World, Third World Forum, CODESRIA, TRUSTAFRICA, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), AFARD (African Women’s Research and Development Network), African Futures Institute (AFI), Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, LEGS AFRICA, Alliance for Rebuilding Governance in Africa (ARGA), West Africa Think tank (WATHI), African Governance Institute (AGI), Agricultural and Rural Foresight Initiative (IPAR), etc. ).
The initiative is a response to a fundamental challenge that you, the leaders, are facing when drawing up policies aimed at getting the countries of the African continent out of the « poverty trap » into which the old and new « powers », the international financial and trade institutions, and the multinational firms are leading them.
Mr. Chairman of the AU, this first issue of the RASA, which was prepared before the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, is being launched in a health and economic context that calls for a renewed reading of world geopolitics, marked by the skirmishes of the economic war between the United States of America and China and the return of disguised neo-protectionism and the egoism of the state apparatuses of « rich » countries. In this moment of recomposition of the world « balance », Africa is confronted with challenges that call for its sovereignty. It seems to us that the time has come for a new Africa, which is leading the fight to get out of the places assigned to it and to position itself differently. Major shifts are underway in all areas and Africa must seize these opportunities to assert itself for itself and in relation to the rest of the world.
As you know, Your Excellency, Africa today has 60% of the available arable land, significant water resources, rare raw materials, a young and ambitious population, but is still confronted with the appetite of other countries that only see it as a reserve of raw materials and a consumer market. The change of perspective on the African continent must come from within. And this cannot be done without a break. To break with our vision of a world where we would be the eternal orphans. To assert our self-determination through actions, not speeches. This is what this report proposes by analyzing the challenges and opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Africa Mining Vision and other continental initiatives. These important elements put to work by RASA show that imperialism is part of the logic of a complex system of actors. The authors of the Report are far from thinking that African societies have remained idle in the face of the magnitude of the crisis that is passing through them. The ills from which the African continent suffers are the product of both indigenous and non-indigenous actors’ games.
Excellence, the importance of classic reports on the economy, governance or social indicators as a scientific and strategic tool for guiding public policy and international cooperation is no longer in question. But these reports emit a discourse of legitimization of the liberal hegemonic doctrine, supposedly triumphant but certainly confiscatory. Their analyses, certainties, rankings and recommendations structure the models, agreements, projects and programs that are imposed on us. The visions conveyed by these reports attempt to maintain Africans in a systemic dependence, riveted to official development assistance.
The model on which these reports are based has no lasting positive impact on the well-being of African societies. Industrial investments do not find their way into related activities. Countries can then find themselves trapped in vicious circles of underdevelopment, whatever the attempts at industrialization. On the other hand, in the presence of spillover effects, a virtuous circle can be set in motion. Several « balances » are therefore possible, as market mechanisms alone are not sufficient to lead countries towards a virtuous path.
In order to bring about the African renaissance that you are calling for, a federation of all states facing external hegemonic ambitions is inevitable.
This will be the basis for building economic dynamics that benefit African societies and populations. The ambition of this issue of RASA is to highlight the levers of sovereignty of African societies. It identifies key areas of sovereignty in which societies face difficult challenges and are constantly building new dynamics. Political sovereignty is a prerequisite for a forward-looking vision and for gaining room for maneuver in the economic and social spheres.
Societies are resisting everywhere, in the cities as well as in the countryside, through struggles and protests against the impacts of the model that has governed our countries since independence. These protests are part of the emancipatory tradition of Bandung, a legacy of struggles for national liberation, but also the quintessential driving force behind the protests initiated since independence. The authors of this Report emphasize the levers of an authentic African renaissance, thought from within, financed by Africans for Africans. They argue against the idea that our future is already colonized by others, and in so doing, they offer a breath of hope and faith in the Africa of the people. They reflect on the factors that can enable the mobilization of real domestic resources, the only solid basis for endogenous development. This report is above all an instrument for reclaiming the centrality of African development thinking, totally in line with the challenges you identified in your inaugural speech as current Chairperson of the African Union.
We are certainly a dependent continent, with recognized high-level human resources, but we are aware that the development model of the small open economy, reproducing relations of condescension and submission to logics that are foreign to us, will never be viable. Our youth, a frustrated and demanding productive force, is asking for jobs and an environment of blossoming that it is slow to see coming. Do we have the right reading and the full measure? Do we know the African economies in their daily reality, in the logic that underlies them and in their finalities?
Africans are the bearers of innovation and creativity, and these are reflected in the effervescence of startups and the reinvention of professions and relationships through social networks that are revitalizing civil society organizations. This inspiring report for all these categories of actors also highlights the importance of culture as an essential area of sovereignty for a diverse Africa, drawing on intangible resources and values that education systems must teach.
This initiative constitutes for you and your peers a support of the African scientific community towards an intellectual sovereignty essential to the other sovereignties that your speech calls for. We are eager to meet with you to discuss the major orientations of your mandate and the changes you intend to make in the organization and in the major continental projects.
Through you, we hope that the RASA will become an essential reference for African decision-makers at the continental level as well as at the regional, national and local levels. It will also be useful for African negotiators, entrepreneurs, students and any African actor aware of the need to individually and collectively reclaim the intellectual and economic sovereignty of the continent.