The Need for Africa to key into the Emerging World Economic Order
By Adebayo Abubakar
The war between Russia and Ukraine is no doubt tinkering with the world order and will not leave the world the way it met it, at least on the economic front. The trigger point, if I may say, is the cutting of supply of gas to Europe by Russia, due to the need to repair some leakages on the pipe which has caused massive socio-economic dislocation in Europe. Homes and factories are running out of supplies of gas to heat and power equipment respectively. The continent now searches desperately for an alternative source of energy, to mitigate the effects of the shutting down of the pipeline that ferries no less than 35% of Russian gas supply into the economies of and homes in European Union countries. Putting on hold the just-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline does not in any way help matters. This has inevitably led to the increasing and hiking of energy prices including oil, methane gas, and electricity. This, of course, has consequences on the prices of goods and services. With inflation already at an all-time high, this is hurting citizens’ wallets across Europe according to a Yahoo Finance report.
There have been protests in countries like Belgium and Germany over the soaring cost of energy recently, and as winter approaches, it would now be a matter of luck if the crisis stops at that. It becomes an existential threat by the time winter arrives when temperature will mostly be at sub-zero level, and the situation becomes more dire for an average European resident.
Energy/Gas Protests in Hamburg, Germany. Image credit: Kenny Sharpe/CBC
The economic tsunami gas has caused in Europe points to an evolving world order, at the core of which is Europe’s energy needs. While Africa is no less endowed with gas than Europe, it is less dependent on gas for survival, thanks to the clemency of her weather. Given Africa’s position, herein lies an opportunity to tap into, using the benefit of the continent’s massive gas deposits in countries like Nigeria, Angola Algeria, Mozambique, Egypt, Libya, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon just to mention a few, according to the worldometer report. However, this is dependent on how prominently Africa features in the value chains of those services and commodities that are primarily sourced from the continent, as explained in one of my previous articles, captioned, “Good Morning Africa; Welcome to Global Value Chains”, published on the 9th of June 2022. In the face of this tumult, in which Europe considers where to find gas to energise its economy, or at least considers diversifying the sources of supply, the question is, what is Africa doing, or what should Africa do, to ensure, she strategically positions herself as a single trade bloc to exploit this once-in-an-eon opportunity?”
I believe, it is high time the African Union, through its organs including the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, ECOSOC, and Council of Ministers (as composed in the Executive Council, which consists of Ministers, or Authorities designated by the Governments of Members States, responsible to the General Assembly), puts up its “thinking caps,” and come up with the modality with which terms for Africa’s participation would be determined. How strategic the place Africa will be positioned must be specifically worked out, with negotiation centered around it. The onus to think Africa into prosperity lies with these organs, and other relevant Specialized Technical Committees of the AU, within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As the new world order is now upon us, Africa must ensure that she does not play the role of a “waiter” any longer, when the rest of the world sits at the table of socio-economic prosperity. Africa must ensure that through the framework of AfCFTA, it features more prominently on the value chains of whatever mineral is coming out of the continent, as opposed to the current state of exporting only raw material with much less value addition. Africa must be exporting refined Petroleum products; processes cocoa, coffee, cassava, among other agricultural produce.
Adebayo Abubakar is a Nigerian journalist. You can reach him via email, email@example.com