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Why it is in the interest of Africa to strengthen its relationship with Asia

Isabelle Zongo
English translation by Otto Kolbl

Portrait, par Isysia

I am quite often surprise to see that the relationship between Africa and Europe or between Africa and Asia is generally conceived as a relationship between dominant and dominated. Is this due to the fact that the experts try to express a superiority or inferiority complex? Or do they think that this will give them a better understanding of the complex interaction between diplomatic, economic and political relationships? I don't even want to know it.

It is true that there was a time when the relationship with Africa was often expressed in this way, but since then, important changes have taken place and we cannot pretend that things are still the same.

Africa has got a huge wealth in human resources; emigrants from this continent have settled down and succeeded in many countries on all the continents. Today, the West and Asia are increasingly aware of the potential of Africa in various fields like agriculture, mineral resources and strategic considerations. The Africans are also more and more conscious of the attractiveness of their continent. We can affirm without exaggerating that Africa is the continent of the future!

An Africa-Asia workshop on energy organized by IRENA

This attracts both the West and Asia and also the petrodollars. Among these, I think that it is in the interest of Africa to strengthen its ties with Asia, for the following reasons:

  1. The proximity of cultures: the Africans are culturally very close to the Asians. For example, these two continents share strong values like the respect for the elderly and the privileged position of the eldest son in the family.
  2. Win-win relationship: the Asians have got the humility of those who succeeded through hard labor. Therefore, they tend to deal with their African partners on an equal footing, which makes contacts much easier. Of course, in business relations, there is always an advantage for one or the other side. As our English speaking friends say: "No pity in business!"
  3. Gratitude: Asian and African people are very often grateful to their peers for support they got in the past. This gratitude can be expressed decades later.
  4. A different worldview: Asian people have got a vision of the modern world which is totally different from the Western one. They believe in a brighter future, they have got ambitious projects! African people should learn from them in order to modernize the African cities.
  5. A dynamic economic model: The economic development model of many Asian countries should be a source of inspiration for Africa. It is quite impressive to see that countries which were much poorer than some African countries in the 1950s are now among the top 15 world economies, far above Africa.

You might like to know more about the basis of my analysis. I work in an Ivorian agency for the promotion of investment. This has allowed me during business trips to Asian countries to acquire a certain experience with intercultural contacts; I can clearly see the differences between the cultures with which I am in daily contact. My personal experience can not necessarily be generalized, but other experts have expressed similar ideas. What is your opinion on this topic? I would love to know more about it!

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