The twelve United Nations (UN) Day for South-South Co-operation was celebrated on the 12 of September 2014. The UN created a unit for South-South Cooperation to promote collaboration within its agencies as well as to promote South-South trade and investment. All the same, the idea of South–South cooperation only began to influence the field of development only in the late 1990s.This cooperation is now well known as South America-Africa (ASA) cooperation, mainly because of the geographical spectrum.
South America and Africa posses over one quarter of the world’s energy resources, which include the oil and natural gas reserves in Equatorial Guinea Nigeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Angola, Libya, Chad and Gabon. This is a major reason why South-South cooperation needs to be harnessed between the two continents as well as between states in the two continents.
Two summits have been organized by the ASA cooperation. In 2006 the first summit took place in Abuja, Nigeria with 12 delegates from South America and 53 delegates from Africa in attendance. In September 2009, the most recent and second summit took place on the Margarita Island in Venezuela, where 12 heads of states from South America and 49 heads of states from Africa attended.
There is no gainsaying that South–South cooperation has to some extent been successful in decreasing dependence on financial aid from developed countries and in creating a shift in the international balance of power. Despite this allusion there is still need to harness South-South cooperation especially in Africa. A good way of harnessing South-South cooperation would therefore be to capitalize on success stories and see how this can be transposed to other developing countries and countries in transition.
One of the major goals of the cooperation is to improve economic ties and foster development. Among several regional trade agreements which were reached during the 2009 summit was South Africa signing an oil agreement with Venezuela. According to Wikipedia, Venezuela equally signed a memorandum of understanding with Sierra Leone to form a joint mining company. Another country in the South which has been very instrumental in South-South cooperation is Brazil. Brazil has been able to develop an increasingly successful model of assistance of over $1 billion annually, way ahead of many traditional donors, which capitalizes on the transfer of knowledge and expertise, rather than solely relying on financial aid. Brazil’s form of South–South development aid has been referred to as a ‘global model in waiting’.
Most recently, the South–South cooperation has acknowledged the importance of a successful and holistic financial policy as a way to better tackle poverty. Because of this holistic approach, financial policy makers from over 100 countries in transition and developing states now form a global knowledge-sharing network known as the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).
In an op-ed by Business in Cameroon, dated the 12 of September 2014, the Indian High Commissioner, A R Ghanashyam purports that, trade between India and Cameroon is currently estimated at 250 billion FCFA per annum. He revealed this in an interview in the Cameroon government’s daily publication, Cameroon Tribune. He added that although Cameroon is “the country with which trade with India has grown the most in the Central African region over the last few years, this trade relationship’s potential is immense” and still hardly harnessed.
To reverse this trend, the Indian diplomat wishes to bring the Small and Medium Size enterprises (SME) development model implemented in India to Cameroon, which made these structures the backbone of the Indian economy and created a bridge between Indian and Cameroonian SMEs.
Regardless of the continuing interest of many states in Africa and South America, cooperation is still faced with major challenges. Stringent taxation systems still exist in African states which pose as a serious impediment to South-South cooperation.
The Doing Business Reports of 2013 and 2014 expose African states as the worst states to do business in. This indeed is an impediment to South-South cooperation. In addition to this melee remains bad governance and corruption in both African states and South American states. Added to these ills is the precarious conflict situation in states like the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Areas that some of the leaders intend to see major developments are in the security and political arena. This is to say that cooperation will give the continents more political and financial power when it comes to the global arena. Some leaders hope that the cooperation will offer greater freedom in choosing a political system. The international community and the UN especially should thus continue to support the efforts of the developing countries to expand South-South cooperation. Developing countries and countries in transition need to thus copy success stories from Brazil, Venezuela and South Africa. Issues that need to be addressed for a fluid South-South cooperation are bad governance, corruption, over taxation, peace and security. Only such measures may truly harness South-South cooperation especially amongst African states.
This article is originally written in French and published at LibreAfrique.org as ‘Retard de la coopération sud-sud en Afrique’ http://libreafrique.org/ChoforChe-cooperation-sud-sud-170914 on the 17 of September 2014.