Sunday, March 30, 2008

Detroit Must Invest In Africa In Order To Survive by Akindele Akinyemi


Urban conservatism must be returned and redefined in order to move our communities forward. One can clearly understand how Detroit and other urban communities can benefit from the free market by trading and expanding our local influence in Africa.
The continent of Africa as well as the African Diaspora must be viewed upon as an emerging market tied in with natural resources that will help benefit our growing emerging sector here in Detroit and urban Michigan. For example, I find it strange that we, in both Democratic and Republican circles, talk about China and India but we never discuss Rwanda. The reason? We still have images of the genocide that took place in that country in 1994 that almost wiped out close to a million people.
Detroit must begin to make that connection with countries like Rwanda because Rwanda, for example, is a emerging market. The Government of Rwanda is acutely aware that achieving the objectives requires a substantial contribution by foreign investors, who need to be welcomed and assisted on the ground. This awareness is reflected in several ways in the investment regime. Starting a business is much easier and faster in Rwanda, according to the World Bank, than it is in any of its neighbors. So is registering property. There are no sectors that are barred to foreign investors and no restrictions on the percentage of equity they might hold. The Constitution of 2003 also guarantees investors against expropriation, except in the public interest and with fair and prior compensation, which may be repatriated.
So how come Detroit is not ready to invest in places like Rwanda? Urban conservatives must begin to review how we do business here and abroad. Unfortunately, most urban conservatives I run across do not even understand Africa geographically and economically. This is because we still, in 2008, view Africa as a "dark" continent.
Part of redefining urban conservatism in 2008 is to begin embracing Pan-Africanism from a free market perspective. Urban conservatives will utilize a more conservative measure in investing in ventures like education and economics. Urban Conservatives must begin to lead the way to will institute relationship building between male and female within the framework of the church. The only way we begin to rebuild our tax base here in Detroit is to rebuild the family through marriages. We do not have to embrace homosexuality or bi-sexuality when we are following God's commandments here on Earth. It is time that we move the church towards a more Pan African approach by way of reinstilling our values as God commanded. We are preventing the rise of a "Messiah" when we embrace values that are not ours.
Detroit should embrace urban conservatism because urban conservatives believe that the basic role of government should be to promote freedom. Businesses should be free to thrive, and people should be free to live their lives, form communities and express themselves creatively. Freedom is not possible, however, without first securing the public's safety and preserving the natural environment.
Former Mayor Coleman A. Young prevented Detroit from becoming a emerging market during his tenure as Mayor of Detroit from 1974-1994. His race first philosophy of politics damaged the city's credibility. Blacks in Detroit, instead of understanding global connections to Africa, alienated themselves from doing businesses with the rest of the world, cut themselves off from the suburbs, and heavily relied on the automotive industry to sustain Detroit. Now Detroit is suffering economically from Coleman Young's mishaps as Mayor.
Former Mayor Dennis Archer tried to put Detroit back on track. Along with Freman Hendrix they were moving Detroit in the right direction. While the Metro Detroit region praised their efforts Blacks in the city were calling both men Uncle Toms and Sambos because they were not Black enough. Coleman Young did a job in keeping Detroit on a economic plantation that no one was free to go.
Current Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick played the race card like his predecessor Coleman Young. Because Mayor Kilpatrick is playing the victim role of the White power structure trying to eliminate Black people we are missing out on the rest of the world.
While Mayor Kilpatrick is playing the race card urban conservatives in this city must focus our energy on embracing Africa as an emerging market. I am not talking about foreign aid. I am talking about investing in the Diaspora.
Urban conservatives can also take a look how Detroit can benefit from investing in Africa. While much of the West ignores Africa, the Dark Continent has a new eager suitor in China. China’s president Hu Jintao last year set off on an eight-nation tour through Africa, promising of $3 billion in soft loans and a doubling of Chinese aid by 2009. In the last 12 months alone, China’s leaders have visited 48 African nations.

China's efforts are not borne of feel good development policies, but of pure economic self-interest. China needs Zambian copper, Nigerian oil, Tanzanian timber and South African platinum to achieve superpower status. The Chinese strategy is built on largess- a savvy exercise of “soft power.” Chinese investment has paid for roads in Ethiopia; financed the building of 100 schools and 30 hospitals in Liberia; rebuilt Angola’s once-famous Benguela railway; and set up a road-building program in Mozambique. Chinese investment has already revitalized large parts of Africa and parts of Africa have much better infrastructure than they did just a few years ago.

And China's efforts are paying off. Trade between China and Africa soared 40% to a record $55.5 billion last year. Direct investment has reached a cumulative $6.5 billion. A whopping third of Chinese oil now comes from Africa.
So now if China is investing in Africa how come places like Detroit refuse to invest in Africa? How come we do not buy our oil from Nigeria directly when we have a Port Authority in Detroit to possibly help lower the cost of oil? Because we have leadership in this city that are not ready to lead. Mayor Kilpatrick has no true interest in investing in Africa. The Detroit City Council is clueless on globalization and free trade. Our state representatives and state senators never talk about investing in Africa. The candidates who are running for office this year will not even discuss investing in education both here and abroad in Africa. But I have noticed how many Black politicians like to take "trips" to Africa. This should be an insult to urban conservatives who are working hard here in the community to educate and prepare our children for a global society.
Free market economics connected with a strong family base is the only way to rebuild Detroit. Embracing the philosophy of urban conservatism is the only way to move our inner cities forward.

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