“Descolonizando as relações África-Europa”

Professor Carlos Lopes

Tive o prazer de apresentar hoje os principais argumentos do livro que estou a escrever sobre as relações África-Europa. Obrigado ao grande público e a todos que vieram pessoalmente à Oxford Martin School, onde sou Professor Visitante.

Para mais: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qRAwzwffLlo

África e Europa estão numa encruzilhada. Com várias estruturas-chave que governam sua parceria sendo alteradas em ritmo acelerado, o palco está montado para que eles identifiquem, entendam e superem o autoengano que moldou suas relações. Os principais atores dos dois continentes têm a oportunidade de reafirmar o que foi dito pelos respectivos líderes da região em 2017: que sua parceria deve ser construída sobre um “espírito de propriedade compartilhada, responsabilidade, reciprocidade, respeito e responsabilidade mútua e transparência”.

Muito do que aconteceu recentemente – desde os impactos agravantes das alterações climáticas, a crise financeira de 2008-2009, aos desafios macroeconómicos resultantes de uma pandemia e as consequências da Guerra na Ucrânia – agrava a marginalização de África, confirmando a necessidade de um mudança de abordagem. A sombra colonial, ainda marcando a mentalidade dos negociadores em ambos os lados, está prendendo-os no passado enquanto ignora as muitas oportunidades do futuro.


welcome everyone to today’s uh event um thank you for braving the heats about 30

degrees here in oxford which sort of never happens um but um it’s it’s my great pleasure to

welcome my friend and colleague uh professor carol carlos is

um he has a very distinguished career as a un uh career official he was until

recently un high representative of the uh sorry um high representative of the

african union commission and in particular uh high representative to the eu and eu relations he was also a

very influential executive secretary of the united nations economic commission for africa

between 2011 and 2015 amongst many many

distinguished aspects of his career carlos is now a professor at the nelson mandela school

of public governance at the university of cape town he’s also a visiting professor at sean’s pool and he’s a

member of several boards the geneva graduate institute the world resources institute the africa leadership

institute and the african climate foundation amongst others um he’s a widely

published um african intellectual in in portuguese and in french and english and really has

a pan-african presence and many of the most important debates about african economics about african political

economy and the future of african development so it’s a an honor and a privilege to have carlos with us he’s

been a visiting fellow here at the oxford martin school for the past month or so

today’s uh lecture uh will be uh on the subject is very dear to

carlos’s concerns uh the future of african eu relations

knowing not only that carlos has been privy to many of the dynamics in this relationship but also

no doubt knowledgeable about the problems i would even argue the

dysfunctions of africa eu relations whether it’s the consequences of the

2008-2009 um financial crisis more recently

the turmoil that the war in ukraine has entailed from the point of view of uh

african economies and we’re probably still at at the beginning of a very very serious

long-term uh uh disruption to african economies from uh that there will be the consequences of

this war notably on on the food front um to many other uh dynamics more recently

the i would say frustrating highly disappointing uh eu africa summit that

happened earlier in the year that had been long postponed about which there were

lots of hopes and in the end not much consequential came out of that summit so uh and i’m not

even going to get into the many regional uh crisis notably this alien crisis but

also the horn of africa situation with the ethiopian war that have deep impacts

on the eu-africa relationship these are some of the most important dynamics that are

the backdrop to carlos’s uh lecture today so without further ado

carlos i would ask you to go to to the stage and uh present your your lecture

thank you

thank you ricardo it’s really a pleasure to be back at oxford marketing school i

want to acknowledge the presence of charles here the director of the school

i’ve been very happy in my two previous visits so i hope to make this one as

productive as the previous ones i’m writing a book about europe africa relations and

the reason for the book stems from the fact that i’ve been quite involved over the last

three years in the negotiations between african europe in a number of fronts

as african union high representative

for the partnerships with europe i’ve seen firsthand how

there is a buildup of attitude of self-deceit

where there is a distance and the discrepancy between what people proclaim and say

and what really they believe and this gap is widening

and it’s creating a cynicism in the relationship that is very difficult to overcome so we are seeing

the dimensions of a symmetry becoming more pronounced and yet at the same time

we have the feeling that you know the language goes in the opposite direction everybody talking about equal

partnership and partnership of equals etc so to try to understand this gap

we have to go back into a certain number of very important dimensions that i hope to be able to entice you to

follow with me today my key arguments

that i’m going to just uh develop in about half an hour is that

african-europe relations are marked not only by self-deceit as i have mentioned

but with an entrenched colonial heritage and mindset and this is not really an

ideological position i want to understand the the real

reasons why i believe it is so and i’m going to develop them in a minute

and because of that colonial heritage and mindset we have an economic marginalization

that has been basically entrenched in the concept of

commodities dependency so in fact the colonial model

is the model of extracting commodities to export and that model i will argue has not

changed so in six decades we are still exactly with the same model

of extracting commodities for exports without transformation or at least deep transformation of the

economies of of the african countries and part of the reason why we are stuck

in that type of dependency is due to the interpretation that has been

made of the theory of comparative advantages and it’s a very

well-known economic theory and i will argue that it has been

interpreted in a flawed way because of the

the the the the way because of the uh arguments that have been used to

justify uh african economies continue to be stuck with the commodities dependence

so we have because of that seen successful waves of productive systems transformation mostly through

industrialization and all of them seem to be bypassing africa

and there is this perennial attitude that maybe the continent is

never ready for uh accelerated industrialization process so

it will be important for us to understand why there is such a

feeling why there is such uh a perception and whether it is true or not so we’ll

see with some data that probably there are some elements that we need to bear in mind

and if africa does not industrialize sufficiently it does not modernize its

economic economic transactions it doesn’t have a integration of some of its

production systems in the global value chains so it becomes a bit of a

vulnerable actor in the overall global economy and this as uh

to a large extent a very heavy responsibility in europe

and the reason why i believe so is because historically and through the way development aid

entrance regimes have been implemented they have

limited the policy space for africa to basically try another way

and to be able uh to fly like the other geese to use the metaphor that the

economists like very much african europe relations because of that have been asymmetric

they are becoming even more so despite of the talk and the pandemic has been a very good

demonstration of this asymmetry in the way we dealt with the vaccines but even before the vaccines

with the different requirements of the pandemic response and

importantly also for us to look into how the discussions about climate are

exacerbating this symmetry and these are sort of the debates of today and they

are going to position the global system to respond to the

challenges of the future so we have instead a focus uh on on migration as if this

was the most important relationship with africa and a focus

on the china or chinese presence in africa as if that was the defining

element of africa’s partnerships and relations with the rest of the world so it would be interesting for us to try to

understand why there is such a fixation in these two and whether there is really

a reason for us to be concerned about these two elements or whether it is a bit of an exaggeration

and is curtailing yet again the possibilities for africa to move forward

and be able to transform their economies so my my final conclusion is going to be

that we are living in in a world where because of the security

concerns and you know you saw the war in ukraine impacts uh

exacerbating such perceptions are are pushing the relationship between

african europe into a corner and are blinding the possibility of really using

uh this historical partnership or historical relations in a

more productive way both sides so i call uh this uh syndrome of the

colonial uh uh the colonial perceptions of africa

the the mercator syndrome you see the the mercator was the the

the map of the world conceived in the 16th century

where basically the equator was shrunk

in terms of the dimensions of the land size of the different continents and

you end up with a map where you know greenland for instance is 14 times

smaller than africa looks the same size as africa and so on and so forth so it was a distortion

now this distortion was absolutely acceptable at that time because of the

lack of a certain number of scientific elements but it has since been corrected many times over by projections that

correspond to the real landmass of the various continents and this is

very well known by scholars and academics is no longer a debate but still if you go into google maps

they are still using marketer projection so why is that so

you know i claim that this is because of comfort there is a certain vision of the world

this is just a metaphor of that because it’s not only in geography it will be

present in history it will be present in many ways it builds the stigma

that is based on the comfort of what we already know are used to accustomed to

and therefore we don’t we don’t want to open our eyes to see a different reality so africa will

always be seen the way it is comfortable and the way it is comfortable is that it is very small

in relation to its true size so you have here just a comparison of africa with different

large countries the most impactful is of course russia that we always see in the

market projections as almost one third of the world and in fact you know it’s maybe one third of africa

and this is not the perception we have and it is important just because of this

challenging of perceptions for us to be able to understand that africa is very

different from the perceptions that we are comfortable with but more importantly is

to to to make the point about the colonial uh

dependency in commodities still being present it’s just you know take a snapshot of

the last uh uh two decades and you will see or three decades and you will see that you know

the the manufactured goods which is your green in this scales

uh in the composition of gdp continues to be extremely small and most of the

exports from africa this is about exports to the rest of the world are basically commodities so this was

exactly the same picture before the independence of the african countries

so how come you know after all these periods of transformation that occurred in the

world and particularly with all the very important

presence of development aid we are still exactly in the same place

well partly because it is comfortable again

so here you have an example of it this is the chocolate value chain where you can see that africa’s share of

the total global cocoa production is 70 but africa’s value capture

of this value chain is six to seven percent so people are used to this and this is

just one example one illustration so why why why change uh something that you know it’s

basically transferring the potential that commodities provide

to other parts of the world so you export basically you export value and you export jobs and you import

unemployment and you import vulnerability that’s that’s what we get with

every value chain that you associate with every single commodity

that you pick in africa so you could for instance pick

bauxite which is very important for the future because of aluminium being essential for

the new forms of mobility and again you will have the same story

you have 60 dollars per ton that are paid for box site

in in africa and just the first level of transformation with this aluminium has

already a value of 2 754 dollars that is

basically transformed elsewhere but not in africa what do you need to transform bauxite in

aluminium it’s basically you need water and you need electricity one of the largest producers of bauxite

in the world is guinea conakry guinea conakry is known for having incredible

eye drop potential and yet you know you part of the production goes all the way to iceland

to be transformed and the guinea conakry receives sixty percent

sixty dollars per ton uh instead of two thousand seven hundred fifty four if it had access

to its hydro resources transforming into electricity and i’m mentioning hydro

because on top of it is a renewable energy so you can you can have

uh several examples of these global value chains and the the the main argument is to say well

each time that you discuss the prospects of an african country you normally apply

like you do for most countries in the world the theory of comparative advantages the theory of

comparative advantage is basically uh the theory that david ricardo

developed and that all economists study and they

they normally say that comparative advantages in different industries uh apply a different uh

differently uh they can be related to natural resources advantages they can be related

to labor advantages it can be government investments and regulation can be other

factors but basically you can construct uh part of your comparative advantages

you you don’t need to be uh hostage of just what the nature

provides you and what has been the problem with africa is this interpretation of the

theory of comparative advantages if it was a calamity that you cannot get out

of because everybody will first and foremost uh pretend that the fortunes of

each african country is the kind of natural resources it possesses so

why do we move from the static interpretation of comparative advantage

theory into the dynamic comparative advantages interpretation which most

countries in asia did more recently and obviously others did before

is is the crux of the matter and if you if you look into how different regions of the world have

evolved in terms of industrializing and this is just one indicator that captures the essence of it the manufacturing

value addition industrialization is not only about manufacturing but manufacturing is sort of the one that

creates most jobs and the ones that reflect a certain level of

movement from low to higher productivity so you can see that africa uh

sub-saharan african countries is the the the curve that is uh the uh the the the least performance uh in

in the in in these two decades into the these last two decades and the picture

continues to be uh more or less the same because you know the levels of manufacturing value edition in africa

are very much dependent on the capacity for us to change

the interpretation of comparative advantage theory so if you if you were looking into

for instance where the investments are going when they come to africa this is a very difficult uh

table for you to to follow but i just wanted to put it there to you know basically to to to mention that

there is an acknowledge base that allows us to know that where

the investment is going from a sectoral point of view and the bulk of the investment is going to extractive

industries and to other commodities so you have very little appetite for moving

out of this scheme if you look into the financial flows in general it will be

also a story that is very much the same as during the colonial times

where the capital flight is more important than the development aid

and it’s more important than the foreign direct investment it’s more important than portfolio

investment so you you could just by accumulation say that africa is

a net exporter of capital it’s not important of capital and you know not to mention illicit

dimensions of these flows which makes the picture even worse and normally what you hear about

the financial situation on africa is the debt you know africa has a lot of debt is trapped in debts well in fact you

know the totality of african debt is 726 billion dollars as of last year just to

give you an idea this is less this is less than the sovereign debt of netherlands and

belgium combined so you are talking about the entire continent six years after independence

of most of the african countries uh being considered as in a debt trap

with a debt that is equivalent to uh netherlands and belgium why is that so

because of the financial system and the way it works because of the guarantees the risk assessments and because africa is

trapped in the commodity dependence so that’s one of the reasons you will have a tax

base that is very volatile and that does not you know capture all the economic

activity because the levels of formalization are very low and as a result you know they create this

impression that africa is really in that but when you look into the death of the world sovereign death of the world

which this uh pictorial gives you uh in terms of color-coded you know with

the 100 percent or above gdp is the red and then you know as you move

into lighter colors you have less gdp percentage of that

ratios you will see that the african countries not only are mostly the ones that are in the lighter colors

but they are in the out outward part of the circle which basically means

that in terms of their importance the size of their debts they are minuscule

but that’s not the impression we have so if we reproduce the system that exists

without challenging it of course we are going to get the same results and that’s exactly what we get in terms

of capital flight and that’s why you know we need a different perspective in

terms of what can change this picture and i think one of the reasons why it is

important to change this picture is because we need to understand that the world is moving into the direction of

a different concept of productivity and this different concept of productivity is is going to create

security dimensions for the value chains so it’s no longer possible just to discuss the value

chains in terms of where do you produce the least costly product it’s going to be where you produce the

least cost costing product taking into account your security

uh of of supply and your security politically speaking so uh the the words that are

fashionable these days is that you need to do re-showing onshoring near-shoring which is

basically bringing the production closer to you bringing the value chains closer to your

control and when you try to interpret what this means in practical terms basically it

means bringing the security dimensions into the question so we’ll have to

reinterpret the idea of productivity to to to bear in mind the security dimensions and that says

this has far reaching implications for the supply chains it changes the logistics completely

and we have seen the beginnings of it during the pandemic we are seeing the sort of acceleration of those phenomena

during the uh uh the the the responses for the war in

ukraine and the more we go in that direction i will claim the more we are isolating

africa further hence the need for us to address this asymmetry in a very uh

active manner so what has happened during the negotiations what has happened during the

negotiations between africa and europe has been an attempt to try to change the

rules of trade and try to change the rules of trade in the name of introducing a certain number

of climate related concerns so if you have green deals that

are being established in most european countries and at the level of the european union

you would expect that these green deals are going to help the climate transition

but by doing so you can also exacerbate

uh the isolation of countries that have contributed the least for the climate change impacts which are

the african countries only four percent of the emissions uh and that are suffering the most

so they have the most loss and damage from the the climate change you can argue the reason why they are in

that situation of contributing the least is because they didn’t industrialize

and they have the most damage because basically they are suffering from the

structures that allowed others to develop to enrich

with emissions therefore the africans have a carbon credit

and this carbon credit has to be translated into a negotiation where those who have

a carbon debt should pay for that debt towards the ones that have the credit

and this would be a rebalancing of the discussion and the the practicalities of

this is to try to see in each and every text that is negotiated between africans

and europeans how you avoid the change of rules of trade done only laterally by obviously

the european side because it’s an asymmetric relationship so let’s take just one example you have

the carbon border adjustment mechanism in principle it is a very

good idea that you tax carbon intensity for the products you import you are

going to discipline your market your consumers by charging for an x uh an excess of

carbon that is associated with certain types of production but then if you do this

for a continent that is you know a very large trading

partner of europe and you don’t take into account that

most of what they export are commodities that can be classified as carbon intensive

and they have industries and enterprises that may export slightly

more than you could expect in in today’s in current terms

by increasing a bit their manufacturing value addition but they will not have the certification to prove

that they are immune from carbon intensity or a certain levels of carbon

intensity you are going to penalize them dearly because they are going to pay a tax

for their exports that as that’s basically going to allow the european countries to have a subsidy

to allow their enterprises and allow their

businesses to adjust to the climate so you you don’t have a level playing

field anymore you are not anymore in the principle of a liberal interpretation of

trade that goes in the direction of everybody you know has the same

rules applying across the board because you are introducing one very disguised

form of protectionism which is exactly what the comparative advantages theory

contests you can do in the long run because you know if you just if you just

protect artificially you are not going to benefit from all the advantages

of you know your market becoming competitive so instead of having this type of

discussions when we sit with europeans in the african side they want to discuss

migration mostly and all the other dimensions are about aid

and how we are going to give aid to support program a program b program c so

let’s look into the migration the africans are very small proportion of migrants in the

world if you look into the other contingents and this is the graphic

people that migrated from their continent to other continents uh in the last years you can see that

europeans migrate much more than the africans and that’s not the perception that most people have

and when actually africans normally migrate they like to migrate inside africa

so most of the africans migrate inside the continent about 21 million

and then you have and this is the stock it’s not annual this is the stock and then you have

about 11 million that go to europe stock and five million that go to the

middle east and so forth so that’s not the perception that normally we have so we just change this

discussion we have also to challenge the view that africans have

gone into a demographic transition that is going to create a problem for the world in fact fertility rates in africa

are going down like in most parts of the world it’s just that they are coming to that stage

of reduction of fertility uh

after all the others so as late comers so here you have some examples of countries that are already going into a

reduction of their fertility rate uh important countries you have basically three slices of africa one

that is attaining the peak another one that is getting out of the peak and others that are accelerating their

fertility reduction so we it’s it it is a much more complex debate and we are

obliged to look into demographics with a much more uh sort of

clear mind because we have been influenced again by stigma and and this idea that

africans are invading and during the pandemic the response

exposed most of the things that i’m saying uh you you remember how the

the the joining the q syndrome and the vaccine nationalism as it was called

became quite prominent here you have just one example of what the situation looks like right now

just right now so you have 4.1 doses per person in most

of the richer countries and i think you know in most of the european countries

you have even stocks uh that are way above the totality of

the population and then in africa we have a 0.5 north 0.5 doses per person

which tells you how this asymmetry is accelerating um and a lot a lot could be said about

the changes that we need to introduce i think the most important debate right now is about intellectual property

because the values uh are shifting more and more into intellectual property

uh that’s why the tech intensity it becomes so prominent and this movement towards intellectual

property uh it looks from the those who defend the current

regimes as unavoidable but in fact you know i just picked this uh article as an

example this is an editorial of the new york times it’s not about europe it’s about america uh denouncing

that the patent system has become absolutely ridiculous and just a way of protecting fraud

uh so it’s not something that we shouldn’t touch on the contrary and why is this important this is important

because you know if you put all the value of uh intellectual property in the current

global value chains you will see that it represents the bulk of the value and

that’s why you have that example like the chocolate value chain it’s about design it’s about

you know registering trademarks it’s about all forms of intellectual property

and that impedes newcomers and latecomers in particular to get into

the value chain so it’s one of the reasons why africa has so many difficulties getting into transformative

processes because the intellectual property is being abused of course you know this has also

implications on climate because uh if if you look into the

multi-dimensional climate vulnerability indexes you’ll realize that

most of what africa needs in terms of compensation for its transformation is

about using technology and it’s about getting access to technology

and if we you have these impediments relating to intellectual property it’s going to be very difficult uh

uh to to do and you know the contrast and the asymmetry are quite

starking yet the moving into more positive note

the future of europe and the future of africa are intertwined one good example

i don’t have time to elaborate more but maybe in the q a will do so one example is that you

cannot do an energy transition in europe without green hydrogen and if you look into the

green nitrogen potential you know africa by far exceeds every

other region so europe cannot do it without africa

and the question then would be are we going to witness

with the green hydrogen but also with critical and strategic minerals another way of

commodity dependence this time to deal with the just transition as it is

classified of others but not of africa so isolating africa further

and allowing others to do their transition their climate transition or are we going to see this as an

opportunity to change the dynamics and change the partnership and that’s precisely what i think

is necessary to do and that cannot be done without decolonizing the mindset

and one good illustration of what is needed is to stop this proliferation of

initiatives about africa i mean there are 36 initiatives about africa that

have been put together by europe since uh 1970.

only five of them have been done jointly with africa five out of 36.

and you know you can see you know every decade instead of diminishing the number of initiatives it keeps accumulating and

increasing so everybody has an initiative on africa right and this these are initiatives

that europeans have put together in different areas and i excluded from this

this graph the trade related agreements

but if you look into the trade related agreements again you have a partition of africa you have huge number

of agreements that basically undermine the

the 36. so the 36 cannot work because you know the reality is not

whatever initiatives are put together the reality is the trade agreements and the trade agreements partition africa

completely and make a case for africa to go into a continental free trade area but it

becomes very difficult to implement it without you know a complete change in relations

with our number one trading partner and our number one trading partner is europe

if we take the the block uh as as one

and yet the latest most ambitious initiative of europe the global gateway

which is supposed to bring to africa 150 billion euro it’s a complete joke

first because in the budget itself for the same period of time what is in the

in the european commission budget is 33 billion not 150. so where is the rest

going to come from it’s supposed to come from a combination of different bilateral programs and a

lot of ifs that basically the european commission

or nobody controls and at the end of the day there is absolutely nothing

if you compare with the current figures that compile all oda coming from europe

to africa there is nothing really additional so why why is this trumpet as very

important because there is this obsession with with china that this is a way of saying that we do

better than china china is problematic etc now look into what

the china trade with the world looks like you know at the top

you have the year 2000 and between just the two most important

economies which one had the most influence in trade with each and every

country in the world you can see that united states dominated completely and then you just move into 2020 and the

picture changes completely and this is from the economist this is not from me

so uh what what does this tell you they tell you that you know it’s not an african issue

it’s a global trend so if you want to deal with this issue don’t isolate africa and try to deal as

if it was an african problem because even in europe there are lots of countries that have

china as their number one trading partner so unless we change really

the configuration of the discussion we continue to debate the wrong things

and i believe that most of the reasons associated with this continuous

use of old frame for the relationship between africa and europe is due to a colonial mindset that

is still present that we need to fight what is the colonial mindset

in in practical terms is basically stigma associated with comfort

and that’s what we need to fight thank you [Applause]

thank you that was excellent and [Music] you stayed within the same wavelength as

many of our events you’re playing speaking and especially about the the most recent

eu initiative um i i i share i share your assessment

um i’m just going to ask a few questions from carlos uh uh perhaps more briefly than usual because we have

a large uh audience also also online um but carlos

in your interactions with the eu did you see any

nuances to this this general picture of african interaction with european institutions

um obviously that that there are some differences at the level of specific member states uh specific

themes how would you and very briefly sort of see that like what to me there’s the perception that

for instance eastern european countries don’t really care about uh relations with africa and that the countries that

where the former colonial powers are still dominant in defining eu relations with africa what would you say to that

yes there are nuances and i think it’s also very important here maybe i didn’t mention enough in the

presentation initial presentation that the self-deceit works also with the

african leaders so it’s both ways and the colonial mentality

also leads the african negotiators and african leaders to have

positions that are also based on stigma and comfort stigma they accept indirectly

and comfort why because they they are fighting for visibility they are fighting for

appearing in the picture and you know amongst the various african leaders you will have like a competition

to to be the one that is invited by the europeans for meeting acts and initiative zed

so you have that and and i believe that this is more pronounced

when the initiators are formal uh colonial powers

so if you know let’s say this initiative is from the president of

france you have like a rush by african leaders to be part of the

podium or or or countries that have some influence

beyond beyond europe like for instance germany for

sure and you are right you know the eastern european countries have a slightly

different position more distant more concerned about migration so a lot

of the migration debates are influenced by the need for consensus that brings along

very radical positions from eastern european countries

your point about the centrality of commodities for africa eu trade is

absolutely indisputable that’s what the data shows us has the advent of new trade

relationships between for instance africa and say brazil or china or india has it has it changed

that because the rhetoric of these new relations is often uh transformational and often

rhetorically these countries try to position themselves as very different from the old colonial relations with

europe how does it work in practice i think the new actors in

yeah exactly but relatively to the colonial powers or the more historical uh

length of the european uh engagement

are certainly very pragmatic and they use politically these type of

arguments to get away with something that not necessarily is that transformative

which is the use of commodities as well for their own development as well not

very different from the the previous sort of approach

but they have one advantage is that they have seized the the absolute need for africa to

improve its infrastructure and they have been extremely smart in dealing with that

that deficit i’m going just to illustrate very briefly how

typically it works so let’s say you have a company from china that is specialized on

building uh large

construction projects they will come with a subsidy from their government

to build something that is funded with chinese money they establish the capacity in the

country then they will remain in the country and they will bid

for other projects that are funded by other institutions can be the world bank

the african development bank or the government because they have the advantage of having already installed capacity in the

country and they are very flexible in the way they adjust to the market

needs and of course they beat the competition because they offer the best prices

so when you and it’s very visible so when you see

a chinese billboard in any construction site you think that

is chinese money and you will say the chinese are building x or y when in fact most of the times is paid

by the government or paid by international financial institutions not by china but it appears

as chinese so i think this this is a smart way of dealing with

the deficit and the business the requirements and now they are being

imitated by turkish they are being imitated by other

entrants in the market of construction so what is regrettable is that you know the

europeans have frame from being involved with infrastructure for almost two

decades so they have now a huge distance from what the market dynamics

have become so one thing in comparison to a generation

ago there’s no doubt that africa’s international relations african trade relations are much more diversified even

if europe is still as you said the most important trading partner it now shares the stage with many uh trading partners

which were barely present in in africa uh 20 years ago

why is it that africa is not using that leverage

to change the relationship with the european union because what we saw

specifically the eu summit it could have taken place 15 years ago it was a very familiar as i said earlier disappointing

outcome i guess the question is on an african on the african side what are the collective

action problems that have uh prevented african 40 plus

states from acting more decisively in changing this relationship in their favor

i think the the african union has tried hard to stop

the steamrolling of a certain number of initiatives and ideas

if you if you look into examples like for instance just before the current initiatives that have been

announced uh by the president of the european commission

uh three days before the summer one week before the summit the global gateway was announced

one week before the summit not discussed with the africans is always

presented as a response to the demand as if the africans want more

so this this this self-deceit where africans are put in a position to beg

for charity or back for development aid and then the the europeans can justify

that you know we are responding we are responding to a demand is not completely untrue and it’s not

untrue because in africa there is exactly the same syndrome

of mercator as in europe what you what you will have typically

is that the presidents of africa that don’t have a very solid legitimacy

domestically love to have a legitimacy that is

translated into international presence international

recognition international visibility so you can play with that very easily

so it serves both interests african leaders and established interests in europe and

that’s why it is so difficult to to

to change and the negotiators normally are very conscious of what needs to be changed

but they are technicians they are technocrats they don’t have the same political understanding uh

as the the presidents in terms of engagements with their counterparts

and i have seen over and over as a negotiator the right outcome being discussed

and then you know two phone calls for two or three presidents and everything changes so one one final question before we open

the floor to questions from the audience i think correct me if i’m wrong but partly par part of the assumption of

your presentation is that this relationship is flawed even dysfunctional but is a very

important relationship i wanted to ask you a more tongue-in-cheek

more provocative question which is whether part of this relationship going forward

for it to improve whether it doesn’t need whether there shouldn’t be less of it

in other words whether for africa it’s somewhat and at least in part a dilution

of this relationship through diversification and i’m thinking this from um the african perspective but also

for instance as you’re well aware in the french debate a lot of businessmen in france now want

to go to kenya south africa nigeria they want to escape

francophone africa they want to escape the colonial burden they want to they want to be normal investors in a place

where they don’t come with this baggage and i as we can see from mali from the central

african republic there it’s at least some african countries that have that francophone background who also want to

see rather less of france than they have since 1960. uh what do you think of that

solution through through dilution i think i think the public opinion in africa is fed up with the current state

of affairs and i would venture to say most of the public opinion in europe

recognizes that this is not working maybe not with the same figure

in africa you can find it even in the streets in europe not because it’s it’s it’s a

relatively marginal discussion in relation to other issues that are you know center stage but i think there is a

lot of insatisfaction even in europe and you can feel it

but there is sort of an inertia that has been established which is what you are alluding to

that we need to uh basically arrest and how can that be

you know if you look into the african exports structure

you have 35 african countries with 80 percent or more dependency on commodities

this is by far in any part of the world the worst

consolidation of dependency in one particular sector

and i think the only the only way we can escape that is by making sure that you make the case

you you you make the business case that afflict is a very good investment opportunity

first for the domestic savings of the africans because you know we have very unproductive use

of the savings of the continent itself if you go into pension funds

you have about one trillion dollars of money poorly invested uh if you go into the

commercial banks in africa you can easily mobilize an additional 80 billion dollars

of uh productive investment that are basically there you know without

unproductively uh unused and so on so first the domestic

but then also the opportunities for the investors abroad and what is fascinating

is to see that you know if you are from india if you are from uh united arab

emirates if you are from uh malaysia or if you are from china

you think it’s a very good bet to invest in africa so they are coming more and more

they have been for the last decade or so the prime investors in the continent

europe continues to have the largest stock of investment but is eroding fast

and most of what it invests like for instance france is the top investor

from the from the european side in the continent it’s mostly in fossil fuels

so it’s sort of the past not the future um and and i think yes

there is a there is a realization that maybe uh africa

is is ready and mature for a different type of relationship but let’s see how

it pans out i’m very encouraged for instance with the developments during the last year it

was a pandemic here africa had a record investment uh

for you know the last decade or so we have never seen as much

and what is interesting is that a lot of it was going to startups and tech

intensive opportunities we had seven unicorns that were

raised out of the pandemic during the pandemic e-commerce is spreading like fire so these are the indications that

something is changing thank you thank you carlos and we’re going to open the floor to questions if

you could introduce yourself while you pose your when you pose your question and please keep it brief so

that i see already about eight questions in the audience and no doubt we have online questions as well so keep it as

brief as possible and sort of we’ll start with this gentleman here

thank you very much my name is sonny iroche i’m currently a senior academic

visitor to the african studies center i’ve lived

everything you’ve talked about my background is investment banking between nigeria and the united states

i was also one time the executive director of finance and accounts for the power company in nigeria

there is a project in drc congo called inga power

inga power started in 1968. it’s supposed to ramp up generation of

power from 500 to 42 000 megawatts of power

that has not been achieved nigeria has a project called mandila

that was conceived in 1982 it’s going to cost about 6.9 billion

it hasn’t taken off till today so the problem of africa is not europe

is the total failure of leadership you said with a phone call techno class

will prepare paper with a phone call between two presidents all that changes

you see if you have presidents who know what president is supposed to do

what your job is supposed to be then you don’t change what the

technocrats have told you i don’t understand another lecture but

nigeria and most african countries became independent in 1960 when liquiu became

the president of singapore at the same development base

where singapore today where are the african countries we talk about

colonialism it’s what happened to kodak

kodak refused to rebrand everybody has a camera here now

so if africa does not rebrand we shouldn’t blame europe which don’t blame china china did not put gun to

anyone’s head i was negotiating loans for the nigerian power sector and i looked at the negative the chinese

i think thank you thank you very much um let’s take two more and then pass it on

holly here and then next three questions and then

uh thanks so much thanks so much for the fascinating speech my name is hallelujah i’m from ethiopia

i’m a phd student studying under professor ricardo uh two quick questions the first one is i feel like i’m i used

to work for the iss and i just followed the african union you know 10 15 years ago there was a lot

of enthusiasm uh to to create shared platforms and to articulate uh

common positions uh back then in a way it could be at the in the form of

an articulate leader of an individual states uh or

the states um individual states with strong parties uh or stronghold infrastructure uh or it

could be uh through you know the um shared initiatives like nepad uh or pita

some of the initiatives like the coordination between the afghan development bank the eca and the afghan

union do you see a decline in interest to come together you know uh as a continent

in the past decade in articulating you know the the mercator syndrome or all the challenges that you’ve articulated

as a continent that’s the first one the second one my question is regarding the

the difficulties of late industrialization uh you’ve closely witnessed the

challenges faced by ethiopia one of you know the examples of uh you know the

african states who tried to lead uh stately industrialization uh how do you

assess where it says and how to explain it thank you thank you

hi yes thank you so much for the talk um my name is alicia leonard i’m a researcher on the climate compatible

growth program here at the university um and i’m an electrical engineer by background so a lot of the stuff you

were talking about in terms of energy was particularly interesting to me especially as i work in renewable energy

and in low and middle income countries in terms of renewable energy developments to facilitate economic growth

and uh there’s a lot of talk about new resource curses emerging in terms of hydro development green hydro

development green hydrogen development as well and you can see it in places like morocco that have large solar potential the

um these eu african country relationships becoming

extractive in the same way as they may have been in the past so as someone involved in these kind of uh technical

discussions around energy on the continent and how that can be exported for economic benefit uh what would you see as ways forward

that don’t replicate that extractive you know resource curse potential thank you thank you

um as i as i said earlier you can choose some of the comments

questions make me comments and we have many other questions so i’ll be brief the first point that i want to make is

that when we when we mentioned the need for decolonizing the relations

is to take out the mercator syndrome from the minds is to change the mindset that is valid also

for the african leaders so it’s both ways it’s not there is no self-deceit only in one side it’s both

so uh we we need europeans to engage africa differently and for that they need to understand

that some of the mindset for instance we can go all the way to

how the rating agencies behave in africa the rating agencies have

a complete different set of

behaviors in in africa than they have elsewhere that has nothing to do with the leadership positions in africa that has

to do with the stigma that is translated into the way you evaluate risk

so you will you know in this case i can even compare a

country like argentina that has defaulted three times uh with a country like ghana that has

never defaulted they have the same classification by the rating agencies should not be

so that’s part of the stigma that is outside africa you know you have to confront that sort of

comfort zone has to change but in africa the same you know you have leaders that behave

exactly the same way as the colonial administration created a

subset of categories where you had citizens and subjects so you co-opted part of the elite

but you you treated the rest of the population as subjects once independent a lot of these countries do the same

so the elites behave in relation to their externalities and the economy reflects that

and you know and the rest of the people they treat like subjects so it’s also

coming from the colonial times so you have both both sides and i think the african union

is a very uh intensive uh political project so i was involved in many ways

in in the reform processes that the african union has been engaging over the last 10

years and i can say that there is a lot of hope in a number of fronts one of them is the

continental free trade area which is an attempt to deal with that division

of of africa in different trade agreements we have 13 different trade agreements

with europe you know what what that means that means that africa is not recognized

as one continent trade partner if it was recognized as one continent trade partner it will be

the third largest trading partner of europe only after the us and china ahead of

japan look at the bargaining position that africa would have been

capable of mastering but no it’s completely divided 13 agreements it’s completely

useless in terms of you know trying to bring these different streams of arrangements

into one and that’s exactly what we’re engaged in so it’s it’s a construct it’s going to take time and it’s not

going to be easy and i think the battle of the future is energy that is that is going to define

energy and strategic minerals or critical and strategic minerals is going

to define whether we have an a new wave of extractive behavior

or we are going finally to have value addition and a change of how africa engages with the rest of the

world and you know my fear is that in that battle

the europeans may be more hesitant than other partners

and that will be tragic and it will be tragic in many ways it will be tragic for the climate

because it will represent more emissions if we do uh export most of these minerals and

potential etc abroad it will be tragic because you know a lot

of the environmental stress that we are suffering is going to produce

more pressures on migration and that is seen from the european side as a security

problem but from an african side is seen as losing human capital

and human capital is extremely important because these are the most entrepreneurial the most determined

people the ones that migrate right and then it is tragic also from the

fundamental need for us to change the relationship um another round of questions here

in the back it’s a question

we have 10 minutes left so it would be great to do two rounds of questions still so if you can be super super

concise so my name is sasha my background is in international

relations i just finished my masters not long ago my question was about like the maintenance of neo-colonial elites as

presidents because i also don’t believe that people are just inherently not wanting to lead it’s about who has

assisted in installing them for the purpose of not leading properly um so things like installations of the us army

funding oppositions or incumbents by for example the usa or nato countries

i was just wondering if you have any comments on how it can look like to divest from this problem

thank you um is there an online question that we should yeah

so um iop has asked what’s your view on the frank zone cfa

in central and western africa it’s drastic impact on african countries and the rhetoric of afc

fta how can the 15 african countries meaningfully shape their social economic

development without monetary sovereignty thank you and the third question may be here this gentleman here your friend

thank you my name is shan sedin siddi baba i’m from morocco i’m an electrical engineering we have

parents visiting parents here to my daughter and i’ve been traveling throughout

africa for many years and despite all the problems colonialism

um the mentality of slavery that stays in our minds

uh there is something that i see that i was in kenya and i was talking about

renewable energies and i see that africa

today has the water has the land has the sun

has the winds has the natural resources and very important

young population so beyond all these problems political

problems and regional conflict coup d’etat and corrupt government

i think africa will hold the future of humanity in 50 years from

now thank you thank you thank you thank you very much and there’s a question

over there the lady over there i’m sorry

hello everybody my name is odera i’m an mfil student in development studies here and i do have two questions so the first

thing is um based on the presentation the way you presented africa was very

monolithic just for the virtue of the presentation but the sort of relationship that maybe the british

former colonies have to that you know colonizer is very very different from the french relationship is also very

different from portuguese relationship so based on those sort of ties how exactly

would you now conceive of solutions to decolonize the europe-africa relations

and then the second question just piggybacking off what you said um is the idea that it’s not that africans want

this relationship with europe is that the african leaders who are in you know these

positions of power are the ones who are sort of arguing for these relationships so how

exactly would you sort of argue for like a changing situation for

those who are occupying leadership positions especially because there’s not that much avenues for youth in africa to

occupy like leadership spaces thank you and i think we’re going to if you yeah

we are going to yes no

i think well first of all we keep going back to this issue about

the use of colonial which is very important because it’s

to denounce a certain mindset right uh we don’t have time to unbundle

all the dimensions of it which is extremely important but for that you will have to wait for the book

that i’m writing uh but you know i think it is very true

that there are a lot of layers and nuances in different types of engagements for

instance uh it is very important to bear in mind that we have different types of colonial

relationships post independence that remain but in general what we should capture is

that the same way renaissance was a defining sort of moment

for the political culture of europe colonialism was the equivalent defining

moment for africa it doesn’t mean that you know you should

pass any judgment in terms of whether it was good or bad it’s not it’s not it’s not that type of

discussion it’s more the the importance it has in defining

a number of layers of complexity and there is a very interesting political

scientist uh from nigeria peter you know

frame of this discussion by saying basically you you had two two

publics you know in africa after the intervention of the colonial times

of the colonial uh period you have the public

that continues to claim sort of the autonomous indigenous

thinking and you have the public that wants to please the external and wants

to be integrated in the global and you know and the marriage of these two publics is extremely difficult and

that’s what is reflected in some of the behavior of uh of our leaders

uh we have leaders that are more transformative than others i like very much to classify the african leaders in

very simple typology you have the reference and you have the red seekers and normally the rent seekers are very

much you know adjusted to dealing with economic

dimensions of the country from the point of view of externalities and and this marries very well with what

is recommended as policy from outside players it’s about externalities

whereas the referees are the ones that are interested in changing the reality

of the country itself and this is a structural type of change

that is required economists will call it structural transformation

and that requires a completely different set of priorities and policies and we have been having this sort of

tension between these two and i would argue of late we had a bit of an evolution there is no more denial

of the need for structural transformation as it used to be the case but before

there is no denial of need of industrialization the issue is how do you do it as a latecomer have you missed

your chance are we having the phenomena called premature industrialization

is it too late and now we should move into services or can we do in the industrial

development without the smokestacks so you have all these debates that are populating

the uh the policy space and i think they are very important because we cannot do things as before

no successful industrialization process has taken place

without some knowledge of what others did before and without innovation moving forward so you need

both and i think in that african level advantage that has been mentioned here

which is the advantage that we have a young population when you have a young population you have associated with it

normally two things that are not being valued enough one

is that the more tech intensive the products the more appealing they are to

younger people so you have the innovation and intellectual property locked most of the value away let’s say

from africa because most of that intellectual property is not registered enough the number of patents registered

in africa is the lowest in the world but on the other hand you have the consumer market that is more appealing

to the young that it is appealing to the old with the aging of the population taking

place so fast in other parts of the world it’s obvious that africa has an advantage

and it’s part of the future but this doesn’t mean that we have sorted the leadership

issues which is basically what these questions are gravitating around the

leadership issues are going to be a contested terrain and

you know it’s not just about coups it’s about let’s look into the deeper reasons

behind the course thailand has had 10 course but it has

developed them and grown quite extensively during that period of the

course so it’s not just the course it’s it’s the whole uh the

complex dimensions that are behind the political structures thank you carlos and um

to those in the physical audience here at oxford uh we’re going to wrap up the event now but you’ll be able to talk to

carlos and to uh get some some answers to perhaps some of the questions that weren’t uh fully fully tackled uh

carlos thanks so much it’s been a real pleasure not just this event it’s it’s it’s it’s excellent but having you here

at oxford having conversations with you and seeing your your book grow

and we look forward to seeing his publication next year so please join me in thanking carlos


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