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The Africa Report

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
06 February 2024 | 20:55 SAST
2-min read

In this week’s Africa Report with Ashraf Patel, a senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand’s Business School: Senegalese election postponed, Italy’s Africa initiative criticised, and Amazon enters South African market

In Senegal, the presidential elections were postponed three weeks before the start of the official campaign. A bill was passed by the National Assembly to extend President Macky Sall’s tenure until 15 December 2024, which is set as the new election date.

Against the backdrop of recent coups in neighbouring West African countries, the decision to delay the elections has led to protests and divisions within the nation.

“At this point in time, there are lots of protests. Just yesterday in their National Assembly, there were huge scenes of discontent and lots of divisions around this decision,” Ashraf Patel said.

Patel points to a broader trend of elite-driven politics, where the benefits of foreign investments often accrue disproportionately to a privileged few, exacerbating social and economic inequalities.

“What we’ve seen over the decade is that this kind of growth has been a growth that has just benefited the elite. So Macky Sall and company represents a very well-connected political elite, and many of them are what is called part of the Francophonie, which is they have been nurtured and supported by France. And the model of Francophonie is basically a very narrow elite that, since independence, have ruled over their countries in fiefdoms and have followed basically the French line,” Patel explained.

Italy’s recent Africa initiative has also drawn scrutiny, with critics questioning the motives behind the sudden Africa-Italian summit. The summit saw discussions of the Mattei Plan, which is aimed at curbing irregular immigration to Europe by investing in development on the African continent.

Amidst concerns over mass migration from Africa to Europe, the summit’s agenda, including plans for oil and gas exploration in Africa, has raised eyebrows.

“The reason the article is saying it’s a very cynical and neocolonial model, which it is, is that Italy is a former colonial power. It was one of the powers that, in the early days, occupied Ethiopia and Libya. And through [their] resources, Italy set up its national oil company, Eni,” Patel said.

Italy, responsible for disruptions and natural resource exploitation on the African continent in the past, attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) last year, at which an agreement was made to end the fossil fuel era and stop oil and gas exploration.

“And yet, just a month after COP28, the Italian government has the summit. And one of the big items on the agenda is the exploration of oil and gas on the African continent. So this is a huge blow for Europe and for the G7, noting Italy is a member of the G7,” Patel said.

This has fuelled accusations of neocolonialism and double standards.

Patel explains that the “double speak” or “contradictory colonial narrative” of European and western nations is being met with criticism and is prompting African nations like Ethiopia and Egypt to join BRICS as an alternative to traditional models of international trade and development.

In another development, Amazon has announced its entry into the South African online shopping market. While many South Africans might be excited about the prospect, it has significant implications for local producers and retailers.

While hailed as an opportunity for sellers to access a global platform, concerns have been raised about the company’s monopolistic tendencies and its potential to disrupt local economies. Despite the presence of local competitors like Takealot, many fear that Amazon’s immense buying power and control over the value chain could marginalise smaller businesses in the long run.

Listen to the Africa Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.

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