7/02/2013

Obama and the “Power Africa” strategy

 
 
By Giulio Albanese – Afronline.org/Vita.it

The president of the United States of America, Mr Barack Obama, yesterday wrote touching words on the guests book of the South African prison where, during the apartheid period, various opposers were locked up, including Nelson Mandela.
“On behalf of our family, we’re deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield. The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit”. A feeling of solidarity that brought him to do what himself defines as “a big promise“ to “assure peace and prosperity to all Africa“. “Peace so that children and women stop living in fear. America – the president said – will help“. What is he referring to? To a plan of 7 billion dollars intended, in five years time, to facilitate the access of electricity to the sub-Saharan Africa, also called “Power Africa“. This is an initiative – as read in a press release of the White House – which has as a target to make the most of “the grand energy potential of Africa, which includes new discoveries of vast reserves of petrol and gas, on the potential development of clean energy geothermal, wind, water and solar”.  The countries concerned in USA’s plan would be Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania. The fact, however, is that the Americans have exceeded the Clintonian theorem “Trade not Aid“ just a few people believe it, considering, for example, the trade war they are fighting against Chinese, mostly in Africa. On the other hand, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), sub-Saharan Africa will need to invest for more than 300 billion dollars in order to obtain universal access to electricity by 2030.
This means that the road towards development is still very long. The African energetic sources represent a tasty morsel both for Americans and Chinese. This is the reason for certain charitable adds, such as Obama’s, should be taken with a grain of salt. The fact is that the protests and especially the polemics by many young South Africans against the U.S. President, almost stigmatized the difference between the number one in the White House, leader of the first world power and Mandela, a man of hope, champion in the fight against racial segregation. Mandela himself is still fighting, in balance between life and death, although no shortage of critics of accusation especially towards doctors and family members to perpetrate a real aggressive treatment against him. But one of Mandela’s daughters yesterday said: “it’s him who’s deciding to stay”. Can we believe this?
By Giulio Albanese – Afronline.org/Vita.it