The Importance of Africa Today
Many people have focused so much on the war and issues with the Persian Gulf, Iran, and Iraq, that they have forgotten about the continent of Africa and its importance to the United States and to the world. There are many important issues facing Africa today; however, there are three which stand out from the rest.
First, the conflicts among the people of Africa have made it difficult for nations like the United States to render assistance in the area of world trade. Second, Africa has a wealth of oil, raw materials, and natural resources that the United States needs, and without economic development it is problematic for such resources to be a part of the world trade. And third, the HIV/AIDS disease in Africa has grown, and is affecting the population in certain areas of Africa. This disease is not just restricted to Africa. It has impacted many countries around the world, so have TB, and Malaria.
The establishment of a global fund to fight the above-mentioned diseases is critical. Additionally, the United States President’s Emergency Plan to fight HIV/AIDS in countries around the world, of which 12 are in Africa, is a step in the right direction. The plan and its funding were developed in the United States and needs the support of all nations. According to an article published by USINFO.STATE and entitled, Africa of Key Strategic Importance to U.S., World, Scholar Says, it stated, “The foundation of a renewed United States-Africa relationship should be that of trust, a clear understanding of mutual benefits, and frankness in resolving outstanding issues and flashpoints.” The May 2000 Gallo Survey added to the importance of this issue by stating that, “The United States needs to pay attention to the issues of Africa and its economic development.”
According to many, the current “war on terrorism” stands in the way of African development. This is based on the fact that energy resources and finances from the United States, Britain, and other major countries are being poured into the military to fight the war on terror; consequently, this has a negative impact on the financial resources that could be used to help develop Africa as a nation.
Africa is in need of debt relief and help in developing internally. Conducting trade with the United Sates would be important. China and Latin America have interests in Africa for investment, just like the United States. This means there will be a race to see which one will try to control Africa economically. Brett D. Schaefer, has studied economic development in Africa, and told the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, as stated on USINFO.STATE.GOV, that China is very interested in the wealth of Africa, and it is also looking into Latin America. If China gains a foothold in Africa, this could lessen the ability of the United States to develop Africa and have control of its resources for development.
The HIV/AIDS problem which is currently impacting the world also has a negative impact on Africa by restricting its economic development. The illness of so many has drained the human resources, thus making it hard for the country to have enough people to exert physical energy to work in the diamond minds, oil fields, and other areas needing economic development. The previously stated article implies that “The United Nations agency coordinating the global fight against AIDS (UNAIDS), has estimated that at least nine African countries have life expectancy rates that are now less than 40 years, principally due to AIDS.” This is very important. With such a low life expectancy, this means that the continent’s manpower to work is very low.
Also, it means that Africa should consider allowing the United States to help with its development. The key to this is trust between the two nations. Additionally, maybe Oprah Winfrey can help Africa since she gave millions towards an all female school in South Africa. She can also assist in some ways with the AID/HIVS problem. By getting control of this problem it would result in less people getting infected and dying, or having the inability for gainful employment. People cannot have a normal life unless they are physically and mentally well.
The last issue is natural resources. America now gets about 18% of its oil from Africa. Many people do not know that. Oil producing countries in Africa, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have many poor people. The nations there are not able to economically keep up with other oil producing countries. The people of Africa, especially, the farmers, want to sell their goods. However, with no money to farm and lack of good tools, improved soil, and growing crops, there is little incentive or desir e to farm. The oil which the United States needs is also being sought after by China and Latin America. These three countries are competing for the attention of Africa; hopefully, in a fair way.
The United States needs oil. Africa has oil. As a result, there should be a better relationship based on trust with Africa to enhance its development and assistance. The United Nations, China, Latin America and the United States all want Africa to grow and be able to have better economic sources and resources. Through the help of the United States with the HIV/AIDS problem, this should reduce the deaths and sickness, and create a people who are healthy and productive in many ways. With people being able to work, they can work in the mines and farm the land. This would produce products for countries like the United States to buy, thus expanding the ability for Africa to reduce its debt. And as a result, America can get the oil it needs from Africa. And, if the United States can establish a better relationship with Africa and assist with its economic development and help reduce the HIV/AIDS epidemic; in essence, this would lead to a more secured oil purchasing agreement between Africa and the United States.