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The African Union Summit is meeting now in Accra, starting on July 1. There has been much talk in African media of Africans solving African problems, and the AU has just taken a giant step in that direction. I hope there is effective follow through, but just making the commitment is a significant stride in the right direction.

Historically Ghana has been a leader in Pan-Africanism, and many Ghanaians believe strongly in how important this is. E.K. Benasah II wrote a post about:

. . . a public Forum (in mid-June) to hear what Ghanaians have to say about the grand project of an African Union government. The forum was organised by a private newspaper, The Statesman; a private English-speaking radio station CITI 97.3FM; Metro TV; and a civil society organisation called the Centre for Democratic Development.

I wish I could have heard what people had to say. He touches on those discussions here. For protection of African peoples and protection of the environment, which comes to the same thing, and to apply some wisdom in the use of resources, African people must stand together. and the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund is a strong way to begin.

It is just a beginning. With oil and other resources turning more Western and Eastern attention towards Africa, Africans must stand together to remain standing. As Adam Habib wrote in Business Day:

. . . there is an urgent need to try to develop a continental African response. The failure to develop one would have serious consequences for Africa and undermine all of the significant achievements of the past decade. Given this, should this not be the principal focus of SA in the AU summit starting later this month? Should we not use this opportunity to focus African minds in a realistic attempt to develop a collective African response to a developing continental threat?

The Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund, as reported in the Business News at GhanaWeb:

Accra, July 2, GNA – The Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) was on Sunday launched at the ongoing 9th African Union Summit with an initial seed money of US$625 million raised from eight investors within the continent.
. . .
The fund, the first of its kind, was a public/private sector initiative, conceived, put together and completely managed by Africans. It sets out to raise at least US$1.2 billion to serve as a financing platform for infrastructure development on the continent, such as would accelerate economic development of Africa and thereby improve the living standards of the continent’s 816 million peoples.

The creation of the fund was also a major step taken by Africans towards having African solutions to African problems, which was what the AU summit and the proposed union government was all about, thereby stopping Africa from continuing as a net exporter of capital through investments and debt repayment.

Mr Mahloepe noted that there were already 18 projects on the pipeline vying for funding from the PAIDF, saying that the strident investment procedures regarding the fund required that not more than 25 per cent would be invested in a particular region, not more than 20 per cent would be invested in a particular country and not more than 30 per cent in a particular sector.

“The 18 projects would require 4.2 billion dollars but by the close of this year we would have only 1.2 billion at our disposal so we intend to select the most viable projects and invest into those – already we are looking at two energy projects and one road project on the continent,” he said.
. . .
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affair, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD described the fund as an historic initiative through which Africa was showing to the international community that “instead of the endless pleas for handouts and gifts we are now paving the way to help ourselves from our own resources.”

“This meeting is different from those in the past where we negotiate for hand outs from the international community – this time we are building our own source of funding for our development,” he said. He noted that poverty on the continent was largely defined by the lack of adequate infrastructure in the individual states and across the continent, saying that the responsibility lied with Africans and nobody else to set the tone for Africa’s development.
. . .
Ms Nkosazana Zuma, South African Minister of Foreign Affairs said the setting up of the fund communicated a clear message to the world that Africa was ready to take up the responsibility of its development into its own hands.

As always, it doesn’t cost much to talk. NEPAD was a source of criticism and controversy today for lack of accomplishments. We will have to watch and see if the actions of the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund have any of the strength of the words at its creation. Will the money continue to come in? and will there be accomplishments to show for it? Many of us who remember the resource and ideological Scramble for Africa in the 1980s, dread the possibility of those civil wars, displacements, and refugee flows happening again. The lust for oil could make this time many times worse.