The economic crisis in Europe doesn’t seem to be coming to an end any time soon. Global leaders are taking note of the mistakes, and also noticing that there are emerging opportunities that come from working together in a unified fashion. The South African Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel is pushing Africa to learn from these challenges so they can create a brighter future.
Giving a speech entitled “Africa and the European Financial Crisis — Opportunities and Risks” at the AMH Conversations dinner in Harare, Manuel says that the rate of convergence of African nations must match the rate of coming together for European countries as well.
“In fact, it’s so bad for us as Africans that 21 years after the Abuja Treaty was adopted and set out exactly what we need to do if we want to get to an African common market . . . we still need to focus on regional building blocks,” he said.
“We aren’t building blocks, I am afraid that we are just pebbles without mortar to hold us together.
“Its not about EU, not about the US (United States), not about the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank, its about us and the way we relate to each other, and in this context it is fundamentally important that we talk to each other as Africans about some of the hard truths that confront us.”
The former Finance Minister says that in a global economy, stand-alone nations will have a difficult time surviving. Alliances have been formed in the west between the US, Mexico and Canada, in Europe and also in the Asian countries. Africa is next, but there is still some work to do. He says that those nations which cannot come together as viable economic units that are wired for production will simply become markets that consume products and goods created by everyone else.
“As individual countries, we will not make it in the world. We will be picked off and become markets for the rest,” he said.
“So we can’t look to the rest of the world. We have to look to each other in our neighbourhood and understand that’s where change will be driven from. As we learn from Europe we look at ourselves in understanding what we should not do.”