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In this year 2003, U.S. policy toward Africa will be driven almost exclusively by geopolitical interest related to Washington’s war plans against Iraq, and by its geostrategical interests in African oil. The U.S. is likely to ignore Africa’s priorities, placing military base rights above human rights. The war against AIDS, by far the most important global war effort and an urgent priority especially for Africa, will continue to suffer from a lack of resources. An American war on Iraq would also have a major negative impact on the global economy with dire consequences for African development.
Last year African efforts toward building greater political and economic unity were often offset by failure to provide collective leadership on its most pressing challenges. The African Union replaced the 39-year-old Organization of African Unity as a framework for stepped-up cooperation across the continent. The new Union, as it is expected to evolve out of a process of accelerated integration, is seen as more ambitious than the European Union But many have raised the fear that African leaderships are still imature to act as a compact bloc within international affairs, and unable to promote regional economic and political integration at the expense of nationalistic interests.
Under South African leadership, The New Partnership for African Development called NEPAD as a plan for cooperation between African states, donor countries, and multilateral organizations. But the NEPAD adopted the critical economic policies and programs of the World Bank and rich-country government
Moreover, the framework initially failed in its major objective of winning substantially increased resources from the G-8 donor countries in terms of new economic aid, debt relief or increased investment. NEPAD avoids any mention of Western obligations to support development in Africa and thus does not mention reparations.
The greatest failure for both African governments and world leaders last year was in combating HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria received only a fraction of the resources needed. In January, President Bush surprised many by accepting, for the first time, the need to supply antiretroviral drugs and by promising additional resources for Africa to fight AIDS.
Masse pressure has forced African leaders and even President Bush to make new promises. The pressure to deliver on those promises will continue, regardless of events in Iraq. It is impossible, however, to deny the stubborn reality: to the extent that distraction, denial, and dogmatism prevail, constructive efforts to address Africa’s needs this year will be diminished. The important things now, is not going by promises to promises but the actions in the field must be taken.