South Africa and Africa!

Mammo Muchie and Erika Kraemer-Mbula

The liberation of South Africa from white minority apartheid rule formally ended the formal political decolonisation of Africa as a whole. South Africa has the biggest economy in Africa, in fact 30 % of the economy of Africa as a whole. Its own size relative to other economies is no larger than that of the economy of Hong Kong, but when looked at in relation to Africa it has a very big economy. This is even more interesting given its population is 5 % of the population of the rest of Africa. The question that is relevant is this: Is South Africa integrating with the rest of Africa? If so, is the integration beneficial to the rest of Africa as it is for itself? Who benefits and loses in Africa and South Africa with South Africa’s integration in and with the rest of Africa? Is the integration of South Africa a new opportunity or a danger to the rest of Africa? One can only welcome liberated South Africa with open arms to join the rest of Africa. South Africa is a new comer in its present form to the rest of Africa after years of exclusion. We should expect problems and mistakes would occur in the process of South Africa’s integration with the rest of the continent. It would be surprising were South Africa not to make mistakes given the very many intractable conflicts and problems in the continent that defy often reason and commonsense. Recognising fully the problems, on balance the expectation is that South Africa learns to play a constructive role in and for Africa’s renewal despite some anxiety in the continent that at present its economic engagement is more exploitative than productive. I shall try to draw some observations related both to the good things that South Africa has come to mean to the rest of Africa whilst pointing to some of the issues that need to be addressed to make the relationship a happy and enduring one.

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