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China dominated US-Africa summit

George Curry | 8/18/2014, 10:31 a.m.
Although the continent of Africa has 54 countries, the nation that received the most attention at last week’s US-Africa Summit ...
George Curry

U.S. condescension was center stage throughout the US-Africa Summit.

Vice President Joe Biden, for example, called corruption “a cancer” and added, “Widespread corruption is an affront to the dignity of your people and a direct threat to each of your nations. It stifles economic growth and scares away investment and siphons off resources that should be used to lift people out of poverty.”

It didn’t help that Biden made another of his famous gaffes, referring to “the nation of Africa.”

Not everyone is pleased with the way China conducts business in Africa, comparing it to a neo-colonial relationship in which China has access to oil, gas and other natural resources in Africa. At the same time, China gains a large market for its goods and services.

To catch up with China, which invests twice as much as the U.S. in Africa, the Obama administration must pivot from its traditional role of providing foreign aid to Africa – with strings attached – to one of an investor/partner.

Many feel increased attention from the U.S. will be good for Africa.

“While the United States and China may not be strategic rivals in Africa, the two countries could increasingly compete commercially if American businesses become more engaged in African markets …” the Rand report stated. “… Such business competition would benefit African countries and advance U.S. interests. African governments might be able to negotiate more favorable commercial terms if they are not beholden to Chinese financing. African communities would benefit, as American companies are more likely than their Chinese counterparts to hire local laborers for skilled and unskilled positions, transfer industrial technologies to local partners, require humane working conditions, and contribute to initiatives that promote the health and welfare of their workforce. Such business practices would likely encourage Chinese enterprises to do the same so as to secure deals, compete in local labor and consumer markets, and enhance China’s image in Africa.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service and BlackPressUSA.com. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his website, http://www.georgecurry.com.