Neighboring and distant Africa, by Jorge Dezcallar

We remember Santa Barbara when it thunders and Africa when a tragedy occurs or our interests suffer. Like now, when we see that Russians and chinese they disembark there with force and lead us to political irrelevance, despite being the continent’s main trading partners, and there are issues that happen there that affect us directly, such as the pandemic, migration or terrorism.

From the north we see the relationship in terms of security while from the south they see it in terms economic and cooperative. And this has been confirmed once again at the recent summit between the European Union and the African Union, the sixth, in which, together with the 27, 40 of the 55 African Heads of State and Government have participated, where the EU has promised investments for 150,000 million euros (?) in the next five years to gain visibility and to counter the advances of the Chinese Silk Road. But Europe has not been able to meet the two main demands put forward by Africa: release patents to manufacture the vaccines against covid-19 there and facilitate migratory currents.

While we inject ourselves with booster doses, 83% of Africans have not yet received the first dose. And although 70% of its population is under 40 years of age, which gives it greater resistance to the virus, something is not working when only 2.7% of global deaths from the pandemic have been recorded in Africa, compared to 22. % from the USA and more than 30% in Europe. They don’t have stats. Europe has donated 148 million vaccines and has promised another 450 million doses before the summer, but this is not enough for the 1.2 billion Africans. They see us as selfish and short-sighted hoardersbecause the virus will continue to mutate and there is always the unwanted possibility that one of those mutations will be more dangerous. This pandemic is a threat to humanity as a whole and we will not get out of it until we all do. If only for that (there are also powerful moral reasons) we are interested in helping Africans in this fight.

As well Africa’s economic situation has suffered greatly during the pandemic: tourism has collapsed, very important for some countries (Morocco has lost 20 million tourists), investments have slowed down and trade flows have been interrupted. In some places the crops have not been marketed and sometimes not even harvested. According to the World Food Program, 13 million people are at extreme risk of hunger in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya due to the worst drought in the last 40 years. But if climate change adds to the problem, so does political instability, with a civil war in Ethiopia, a coup in Sudan, chronic instability in Uganda and the Central African Republic, the failed state that is Somalia, Islamists in Mozambique , and recent coups in West Africa… Famines, war and instability push people to emigrate, as does a demographic growth for which it is impossible to find food, shelter and work: Egypt increases one million inhabitants per year and Nigeria, with 206 million, will reach 400 by mid-century. In 2050, the world population will grow by 2,000 million and, of them, 1.3 billion will be born in Africa and so I think the migrations are just beginning.

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But after the million Syrian refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015, there has been a a strong reaction against immigration that capitalize on identity and far-right movements. Or Brexit itself. And that’s not going to change any time soon. In neighboring France, the presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse has just led a scandal by advocating differentiating between the French ‘at heart’ and those ‘on paper’. And this trend is increasing and shows no signs of changing in the short term. For this reason, in the absence of channels that facilitate orderly and sufficient immigration, people die trying to cross the Mediterranean or reach the Canary Islands.

In the years to come, neighboring Africa will be a land of great opportunities but also of great problems, and this requires that we pay more attention to it.

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