Lusaka lawyer Dickson Jere has advised Western countries to wake up and restrategise their multi-lateral engagements with African countries or risk being overshadowed by the Chinese.
Commenting on Prince Harry’s recent visit to Zambia, where he pledged to buy 1000 elephants for the Kafue National Park in order to help the country in promoting wildlife tourism, Jere said, in statement, that Zambia needed tangible development and not Jumbos.
He said the Western countries must emulate China which seems to have positioned itself well in Africa with big influence by bringing in tangible development, which has been demonstrated through infrastructure and assistance of loans and grants to African countries.
“By any standards, the recent visit of Prince Harry to Zambia, was high profile. Even his engagement was at high level – a meeting with the Head of State and other senior government officials. And then the communique is out – the Duke of Sussex intends to help Zambia beef up the numbers of elephants! Off course wildlife conservation is one of the passion of Prince Harry and that offer of jumbos perfectly fits his ‘agenda’. However, nothing tangible came out of the trip in terms of investments except the unspecified pledges of helping Zambia with trade and investment. I know Prince Harry does not represent government of the UK per se but his visit underscores the relations between Britain and Africa and so he was expected to talk more on tangibles. That is where precisely the West is losing it in Africa. Days of rhetoric talk are long gone! Africa wants tangible engagement with tangible results,” stated Banda.
“On the other hand, the Chinese utilize any high profile visit to Africa to underscore the ‘help’ they will render to Africa in very specific terms. China speaks of tangible projects- roads, bridges, schools, hospitals – which are in need in Africa. The figures would have popped up in terms of the ‘concessional loans’ or whatever you want to call them. Months after the visit, graders would be on site, commencing the infrastructure projects as promised without any ‘conditionalities’ whatsoever. In short, Africa and Zambia in particular, does not need elephants! Africa needs infrastructure projects – roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. And China has rocked herself well in that equation and hence the unbridled influence she is having on Africa! The West must wake up to the realities on modern day Africa and its needs! By the way, I harbour strong views on how China and Africa engagement is structured especially on the so-called ‘concessional loans’ and ‘counterpart funding’ which have become conduit of illicit funds for the elites! But it’s topic for another day!”