It has taken a long deliberation and reading to decide if it was worth it to write this post, because it is quite political. Last night, I concluded it was important and it needed to be written.
Like a broken record, I will say again that these are interesting times in energy as we have become highly dependent on it. I doubt the times of Edison and Tesla were these intriguing, mainly because they focused a lot on the science but now energy talks are hugely political.
Earlier in the year, the president of the AREI (Africa Renewable Energy Initiative) resigned. Oh wait, that’s a rare one in Africa right? I respect Youba Sokona for his decision to resign his office because he believed the projects the Europeans and France, in particular, were pushing for were not entirely new, renewable or in the interest of the African people. Also, the projects were said to have ignored AREI evaluation procedures and pushed for the imposition of EU technical experts.
Now, in my opinion, development cannot be achieved in isolation. Does Africa need the EU? Absolutely YES! Does the EU need more African markets to penetrate? Of course. What then is the issue here?
Many Africans have come to a conclusion that ‘Development aids’ are only a way to put developing nations more in debt and economic dependency (to put it lightly), does this mean a stop has to be put to the aids in general? For me, that is a No!
Like my ancestors say, cutting off the head is not the solution to a headache, (It sounds way better in the Yoruba language). Focusing on projects being hijacked and isn’t, in my opinion, a solution, but I am still learning. We must not put an end to these cooperations and partnerships. Here is what I think is important, however. Both continents have to focus on a win-win a situation on the issues of aid. (Do you think this is a myth? Read more on the Harvard Concept to understand more the approaches to negotiation)
Let’s be honest, EU or Africa, whichever side you belong, both parties are meeting to do business and collaborate however you like to sugar coat it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Whether the returns are monetary or otherwise is a blog post for another day. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with seeking your benefit when you come to the negotiation table.
What needs to be highlighted is that this is the time for African brains to rise up to action and figure out how these aids can be sustainable and beneficial in the long term. Time for EU to come to terms with the fact that the time of impositions is over; healthy sustainable business approaches are the way to go. This does not translate to lowers profits for European markets either if critically evaluated.
What would be more interesting is to see the approach the new president of the AREI takes to the issues. Is transparency too much to ask for in this sector?