Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Africa in 2040

Paul Chefurka's grim assessment of what's in store for Africa. Please read and bookmark this paper.

There is a darkness moving on the face of the land. We catch glimpses of it in newscasts from far-off places that few of us have ever seen. We hear hints of it on the radio, read snippets about it in newspapers and magazines. The stories are always fragmentary, lacking context or connection. They speak of things like inflation in Zimbabwe, war in Chad, electricity problems in Johannesburg, famine in Malawi, pipeline fires in Nigeria, political violence in Kenya, cholera in Congo. Each snapshot of grief heaves briefly into view, then fades back into obscurity. With every fresh story we are left asking ourselves, "Is there something bigger going on here, some unseen thread connecting these dots? Or is this just more of the same from a continent that has known more than its share of misery?"

This paper is my attempt to connect those dots, to tease some order out of the chaos of the news reports. I will use some very simple numerical techniques to fill in the missing lines, and in the end a picture will emerge. I can tell you in advance that the picture is fearsome beyond imagining, and you may well be tempted to avert your gaze. I would advise you instead to screw up your courage and take a good look. It is crucial to our future as a civilized race.

I expect the collapse to turn Africa into the next arena for a quick game of "Disaster Capitalism." Large trans-national entities will make offers of "significant assistance" to particular countries in return for untrammeled access to their resource base. The vultures will be lining the banks of the Zambezi waiting for the feast, no doubt about it.

"I know there's rumors in Ghana `All Bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here,' Bush said at a news conference with Kufuor. "That's baloney. As they say in Texas, that's bull."

Instead, he said the new command — unique to the Pentagon's structure — was aimed at more effectively reorganizing U.S. military efforts in Africa to strengthen African nations' peacekeeping, trafficking and anti-terror efforts.

"The whole purpose of Africom is to help African leaders deal with African problems," Bush said.

Bush sought to dispel the notion about militarization of Africa even before giving reporters a chance to ask him about it. Kufuour said he was satisfied with Bush's explanation, and thanked him for announcing it "so that the relationship between us and the United States will grow stronger."

For now, the administration has decided to continue operating Africom out of existing U.S. bases on the continent with a headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. War-wrecked Liberia is the only African nation that has publicly offered to host a headquarters. Bush said before the trip that "if" a headquarters for Africom is ever established on the continent, he would "seriously consider" Liberia as the host.