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25.11.2015 Feature Article

African Agency: To Act Or To Be Acted Upon?

African Agency: To Act Or To Be Acted Upon?

The just concluded 13th IREN Africa Resource Bank Forum elicited different reactions on the theme “African Agency in Geopolitics.” The multidisciplinary event that brought together both young and old, sought to define African Agency, African activities in peace and security, media, industry, trade, and investments among others. The event attracted participants from Nigeria, East Africa Community member countries, Australia and the United States of America.

Nestled in a hotel at the Southern tip of Lake Victoria in Mwanza, Tanzania; participants defined African Agency as the actions of Africans in the international system in such a way that Africa is an actor rather than just merely being acted upon.

Agency was defined as the assertiveness of the African continent as a concept, an organ or an entity for assertiveness of the African (individual, corporate, state and non – state actors) in the International system with regards to economics, politics, social and culture. The “African” was defined as those on the African Continent and the Africans in Diaspora.

On why African Agency is required, discussants pointed to the primary goal to trigger socio-economic transformation on the continent to improve the well-being of Africans. It was also pointed out that the over 12 global actors that have created platforms to engage Africa, for example the USA – Africa Forum, the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation, Turkey – Africa Forum and India – Africa Forum among others, call for African Agency. African Agency is required to facilitate efficient management of the multiple interests knocking on Africa’s door.

The African Agency is a possible successor concept to be driven by Africans themselves as opposed to the Africa Rising and Africa Renaissance among other earlier narratives. The opposite view to this question focused on the diversity on the continent and the fact that the world seems to focus on Agency in military terms-namely, without a nuclear war-head no one might listen to Africans.

Successful attempts on African Agency were demonstrated by evaluating African activities namely the push for review of international financial systems, the World Trade Organization trade talks, activities on international justice system, increased intra-African investments, peace and security and the continent’s position in geopolitics.

It was noted that Africa is ill represented in international systems that impact on her peoples’ livelihoods. The situation is made worse by African states’ emphasis on sovereignty in poverty as opposed to collaboration towards prosperity.

African Agency requires that African Countries, Individuals in Africa and Africans in Diaspora identify common positions on global issues that are of mutual interest. African Agency is not necessarily about African integration but rather collaborative efforts to enable Africans (as countries and individuals) to be competitive, modernize and become assertive in the global arena.

James Shikwati,

Founder Director, Inter Region Economic Network [email protected]

James Shikwati
James Shikwati, © 2015

The author has 102 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JamesShikwati

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