Africa doesn't need US as benefactor

Updated: 2014-08-12 09:12

By Ellis Mnyandur (China Daily)

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By all accounts, the United States - which generally prides itself on being a trendsetter - is essentially a "Johnny Come Lately" to the "Africa Rising" story. As if to make amends, US President Barack Obama held the largest ever gathering of African heads of state and business leaders in Washington DC from Aug 4 to 6. The effort goes to show the seriousness with which his administration sees the need for a "reset" in US-Africa relations.

The "reset" is long over due. Obama knows full well that it should have been among his first-term priorities, especially in view of the expectations that were created by his historic election victory in 2008. Back then most Africans thought he would put their continent first. That did not happen. Most Africans now think Obama's engagement with Africa has not lived up to what they thought would be possible under a US president born of a Kenyan father and an American mother.

This recent meeting in Washington DC, in many ways, presented Obama with the opportunity to redeem himself, mainly by showing concrete ways of how the US plans to engage with Africa.

Mind you, this is not the "old Africa game". Our continent does not need the US as a benefactor. We want a relationship with the US that is based on mutual interest. Simply put, the Africa of yesterday is not the Africa of today.

The shadow of an Africa riddled with famine, war and thuggish dictators is fast dissipating. There is a sustained push underway by Africans to build a prosperous continent. The Africa of this generation needs true allies - not prospectors.

Today's Africa represents an immense opportunity for the US to play a key role in its development. This is especially relevant in the critical areas of technology, education, infrastructure, energy, healthcare, environment, entrepreneurship and governance.

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