Point of View // 11.24.2010

Cutting Ties: Canada's tentative withdrawl of embassies in Africa

Article by Abena A-T

A friend of my sent me this article:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-mulls-closing-some-embassies-in-africa/article1792611/

It has to do with the Canadian government’s pending decision to close down more embassies and consulates in Africa including those in the Gambia, Tunisia and Zambia. In recent years Canada closed embassies and consulates in Gabon, Guinea, Malawi and in Cape Town, South Africa. Currently, Canada now has only 21 embassies in Africa.

The article speaks of growing sour relations between Canada and the African Continent, a relationship which was likely further strained after the Harper government failed to secure seats for a section of the UN Security Council. The writer says that some people may accuse Canada of further neglecting African countries especially after the lack of African votes to help Canada win a place in the Security Council.

Some voices in the article say that this is a mistake for Canada since Africa is becoming more influential. Others talk about needing to keep up with China and India who are “rapidly winning allies” in India.

After reading this last comment about needing to keep up with China and India, I felt an ugly lump develop in my stomach. It made me think that this again, like the colonial exploits of past, has little to absolutely nothing to do with the harm or benefit for Africa and everything to do with Canada keeping its fingers on a fat slice of Africa’s growing pie.

As always, your thoughts and observations are welcome. Is it really a mistake for Canada to pull its embassies out of more African countries? Perhaps it will be a blow to trade, knowledge sharing, and positive benefits that could arise for both sides. Gonna keep my eyes out for this one.

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