Important changes have been occurring in the ill-defined area of partnership in Africa, mainly in the context of the African Union’s quest for development as well as peace and security on the continent. The purpose of this ISS paper is to identify and describe the implication of these partnerships, as well as their long-term development objectives and, subsequently, to evaluate their relevance to the present economic conditions of African countries.
Compared with other developing regions, Africa faces a unique developmental challenge, especially in the early stages of economic development. The average size of the economy, as measured by the Gross National Product (GNP), is quite small; average household incomes in Africa are far below those in other less-developed countries (LDC); and the majority of countries classified by the United Nations (UN) as ‘least developed’ are in Africa. To make matters even more unsettling, domestic savings in Africa remain at a low level. This means that Africa relies heavily on foreign capital to sustain investment, coupled with stagnant or declining household incomes. The lack of domestic investment as a reliable source of capital formation means that African economies depend a great deal on exporting primary agricultural products to the external market.
This paper also attempts to analyse Africa’s strategic partnerships: the Africa–Indian Forum Summit, Africa–Europe Summit, China–Africa Cooperation Forum (South–South) and the Africa–South America cooperation (South–South). Using historical analysis and comparative research methodology, the paper investigates the actions that have been undertaken since these rather competing partnerships were launched officially, and attempts to address the challenges and opportunities these partnerships/cooperation have generated. Furthermore, the paper tries to address the political, economic, cultural and social developments that have the potential to shape African society, and their implications on the peace and security agenda on the continent. The paper concludes with recommendations and the proposed way forward.