The Continent has the potential to create some useful strategic allies
With the UK having finally passed its deal with the EU, many Brexiteers, while elated, are wondering what future opportunities the UK can now pursue. And while I’m thankful that Britain can pursue these opportunities, I am worried that in all the commotion, the motherland will be ignored! And that would be an awful case of a missed opportunity.
Yes, I know many people may be wondering what an impoverished continent like Africa has to offer the UK. And I know many leading experts may see the continent as a drag on Britain's potential. But hear me out: done correctly, my home continent joining up with Britannia will be a net gain for everyone involved.
Firstly, getting useful allies. As the second largest and second most populous continent in the World, Africa has great potential in terms of becoming a powerhouse. Alas, the impoverishment of much of its population from Zimbabwe to Libya means this potential is hard to realise. The unfortunate reality is that with a exception of a few charities much of the Western world appears to have turned a blind eye to all that's going on. With all the struggles the people go through on a daily basis it’s no wonder they’re willing to go to the one country that does appear to care - China. Outsourcing the continent to a rather unpleasant and racist alternative seems unwise at best, especially considering its strategic location, and seeking to do a few good deals allowing for the trading of essential goods for the people there (e.g towards infrastructure and healthcare - two basic human rights that are scarce in the region) will hopefully go a long way towards curtailing their influence and having some important partners, which a post-Brexit Britain definitely needs.
And then of course how this benefits Africa. I’ve already mentioned the continent's poverty but anyone with a soft heart should already be aware of that fact. This, combined with governments that seem more concerned with gunning down their citizens rather than providing for their well-being, leaves it in a dire situation. It isn’t accurate to call it monolithic - South Africa, for example has very different issues to deal with than Cameroon. But nonetheless the same basic issues of incompetence, corruption and poverty assail all of its countries to one degree or another. With the continent having a tonne of untapped potential in terms of natural resources which gives it the potential to go big, this breaks my heart, but it isn’t too late to reverse the current crisis. As I said earlier, infrastructure and healthcare are two essentials in need of development, something China recognizes hence projects like the recent Lagos-Ibadan transit, so several trade deals and construction projects by the UK with regional blocs (ECOWAS, ECCAS etc) will be of immense help to the region, allowing for the improvement of roads, bridges, ports etc, something I would dream to see. And if you're unconcerned about how this improves the lives of ordinary Africans surely the UK can appeal to its own self-interest? Improved lives = happier people = better global security = a safer post-Brexit Britain. A symbiotic relationship if ever there was one!
Yes I’m not naive. I know this will require effort and investing a lot of time into producing multiple treaties and trade deals with the various countries and regional blocs that make up the African continent. And of course, the not too small problem of corruption lurks around in the back, waiting to pounce. But sorted effectively, there’s nothing to stop many of the 54 countries of the homeland becoming really essential allies to Great Britain in the future. A strong and prosperous Africa will improve the lives of many of its citizens, and the UK can curtail Chinese influence while staying relevant to the globe. At the very minimum, it wouldn’t hurt to try.
Toluwan Adebayo is a PPE student at QUB