After the Cold War ended, it seemed that a unipolar world was created when the United States emerged as the only superpower in the aftermath of the dismantling of the former Soviet bloc and its partial integration into NATO and the European Union. Today, we see a world order in the making with emerging states (China, India, Brazil, Russia, the Gulf States, South Africa) and other nodes of power: a globally connected civil society; private foundations (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation); terror networks; faith-based political mass movements; multinational companies; and globally linked financial networks.
After the short excitement of independence, for decades Africa was relegated to the battleground of the Cold War. Torn into two camps, the West and the Soviet bloc, Africa was never strategically as important as Asia or Latin America for either of the superpowers. Violent conflicts, civil wars, the Rwandan genocide, natural disasters and diseases like HIV/AIDS and widespread economic and social despair were realities that feed the dominant image about Africa in the 1990s. Africa was seen as the “lost continent”.
African leaders faced with the economic and social crisis, violent conflicts, natural disasters and diseases, embarked on new political initiatives (African Union, NEPAD). In many countries, popular protest escalated from below demanding an end to authoritarian and corrupt governments and new political initiatives to effectively combat poverty and unemployment.
With China’s increasing economic interest in Africa, the continent regained international interest. States and multinational companies are eyeing Africa’s resources. There is a scramble for its minerals and oil to supply world production, its land to feed a burgeoning world population and for a marketing foothold to attract Africa’s growing middle class to consume Chinese, American, German or French products.
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Dakar analyses the transformation of Africa’s place in the world as it is shaped by external and internal forces.
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