With the amount of information I was recently exposed to about the African Union’s budget, I feel very ashamed! After looking at the African Union’s 2014 budget, I started wondering how African heads of State get the nerve to challenge the West for interfering with Africa’s internal issues when these same leaders have practically turned Africa and her institutions over to the control of the West! The AU’s budget for the 2014 Financial Year is US$308,048,376. Of that sum, only US$126,050,898 is to be contributed by member states, while the remaining US$170,098,545 comes from ‘International Partners’ – predominantly the EU.
Even at that, Kenya, like many other African countries, still owes its annual membership fees. Nigeria is there sacking its economic reformists and risking the country’s financial market. Ugandan legislators are busy passing anti-mini skirt laws (yes, they just did that this February. No jokes. Mini-skirts are now a no-no in Uganda), and the Gambian President is consumed with the need to wipe out gay people the same way they wiped out Malaria.
Speaking of Malaria, it is another sour point to note that the Bill Gates foundation has committed more funds into helping eradicate malaria on the African continent than the health budgets of all African Nations combined! For the citizens who bear the brunt of bad governance, we certainly will ask that Gates stays on! At least if African leaders will not commit to better healthcare, someone else is doing just that! This however does not make the reality less worrisome.
In terms of resources, Africa is the world’s richest continent. We have 50% of the world’s gold (check out South Africa), 90% of the cobalt (check out Congo), most of the world’s diamonds (check out Botswana), 60% of the manganese, the world’s largest oil producer (after the middle East), vast lands and so much more! In fact, the Democratic Republic of Congo is capable of generating sufficient hydro-electricity to power the entire continent! Our mass of resources should actually make Africa the leading continent on the globe! It therefore breaks my heart and I find it a total embarrassment seeing how dependent we have become on other Western nations.
Even the Holy Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive! Givers never lack! But for the African continent, we are so fond of receiving gifts but hardly ever give. In 2012, the new $200million headquarters of the AU in Addis Ababa was handed over by China as a gift to Africa. Germany is also constructing a 26.5 million Euro building for the African Peace and Security Council. Little wonder the proposition to have an African Country as a permanent member of the UN Security Council has stalled because, apparently, our funders can’t imagine us clogging their veto in any way.
As if these are not bad enough; when we want to settle our own scores, we still run to the West for help! For instance, the African Union on December 5, 2012 appealed to the United Nations for financial aid for its military intervention in the crisis in Northern Mali.
Africa needs to grow up! Some still argue that the colonialists raped the continent of its resources and therefore owe it some form of recompense! Please, that argument is so 1960!!! Besides, it has been reported that the amount embezzled by African governments, when summed up, exceeds the amount the continent has received as aid money. So tell me, are we still not our own problem?
Nigeria and South Africa extend help to their African counterparts once in a while by way of funding for some projects and especially in contributing to the peace keeping missions of the AU. But even between these two, I am highly disappointed! They spend more time bickering than they do cooperating to push the continent forward. How amazing it will be if these two African giants could have more cooperative economic policies.
Africa today may boast of 54 independent States. But are they really independent in the true sense of it?
Photo Credit: fatfempinup.wordpress.com
Adebayo Okeowo is a human rights lawyer whose experience traverses both government and private organizations. His most recent engagement was as Program Officer for the Nigeria office of Global Rights – a human rights organization headquartered in Washington. He is the founder of the White Code Centre and is currently studying at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.