Posted by: Snake Oil Baron | October 26, 2008

Africa and Europe – Joined at the Hip

Another roundup of posts on the continuing integration of the European Union and Africa. As usual the current economic downturn may affect the timing of events but generally, long term social and economic trends can be surprisingly resilient in the face of the shorter term economic picture.


This 2004 article describes the changing makeup of Mediterranean immigration. Immigrants from North Africa to European nations on the Mediterranean are being reducing in prominence while sub Saharan Africans, Chinese and other Asians, Brazilians and other Latinos, and Eastern Europeans gaining in prominence. People smuggling from North Africa is becoming more of a human version of FedEx in that it is moving migrants from all over the world instead of being just a local people post office; moving people across the Mediterranean neighborhood. I expect to eventually hear complaints about Muslim neighborhoods loosing their “character” to the wave of East Asians and South Americans.

I may have mentioned this issue before in regards to another article but growth in Africa is making it easier for African companies recruiting employees from the African diaspora in the US:

“Our Careers in Africa Recruitment Summits have been helping African companies recruit from the US for a number of years. This year though, the market has seen the biggest swing yet; not only are there more companies looking to recruit from the region but, due to the current economic climate, there are significant increases in professionals looking to move.”


I found this blog, “The Worldwide Decline of French” dedicated to documenting (surprisingly enough) the worldwide decline of  the French language. Africa is one of the few places with sizable numbers of French speakers but France’s foreign policy in the region combined with the economic importance of English contrasted with French are causing many instances of Franco-flight. The Rwandan education system is now going to be teaching all classes in English. The learning of English is on the rise in Mauritania. Africans can see which way the global language winds are blowing and it is not towards French. When Peruvian preschool teachers are told they have to become bilingual and are given a choice of English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian, 85% chose to study English. France itself realizes it is being “beaten” even on its home turf as far as the linguistic game of “Risk” is concerned.

With English becoming the lingua franca (snicker) of the EU and even nations like Germany thinking France is lame for believing it is still a player in the linguistic sense, the momentum towards a world language currently seems  unstoppable.

American military goals are providing a market for people who can translate between English and Arabic, Farsi, and other Middle Eastern languages. Whether English speaking immigrants who retain the language or American soldiers who use the latest technologies like specially loaded iPods to learn the language in the field, increasing the interpenetration of ideas and knowledge will further integrate the English speaking world with the African and Middle Eastern nations.


The French language’s fortunes in Africa may be fading but optimism and ambition are on the rise according to Vijay Mahajan, author of Africa Rising.

The English  speaking and French speaking nations are seeking to harmonize their legal systems.

Europe is still pursuing its power utility integration with Africa. In addition to looking for North African renewables, they seem to be hoping to increase African domestic capacity which would increase the economic development of Africa.

The African union is pursuing a common agriculture market by 2009.

Africa continues to wire up via undersea fiber optic cable.

The continent seeks to consolidate its multiple trading blocks into one.

Morocco cons the EU out of some money to help promote literacy (like the EU was really going to do anything useful with it). Morocco is well placed to actually make some gains from it. Their telecommunications market is seeing a 3G boom.

North African nations are starting to compete for business opportunities in sub-Saharan African nations. Those northern nations who have a better relationship with their southern neighbors than say, the Sudanese government will be more likely to be successful in these endeavors.

Paris is outsourcing Airbus jobs to Tunisia.

Even Libya, who’s government sees France’s efforts at integrating Europe and the North African regions as a devious plot to rekindle the Roman empire is pursuing closer ties with the EU.

Indirect influences on the Euro-African region:

Canada and the EU are pursuing a free trade deal. With leftists wanting to diversify Canadian trade away from America and being so in love with Europe, the conservative government in Canada will have little trouble securing the political will for liberation of trade with Europe. And Europe sees Canada as less dangerous than the US and perhaps even an ally against American hegemony so they should not see much resistance to the idea of a trade deal with Canada except maybe for Spain and Portugal due to the fish wars of some years ago.

Islamic societies are continuing to see their fertility rates fall so the “flood” and “tidal wave” metaphors when thinking about Islam and the future of Europe and Africa may be somewhat dated. As a side note, even Egypt does not want Islamic tourism cramping the style of its real tourism industry.

The gulf region continues to develop. Saudi construction projects worth $260 billion are being readied (either underway or in design phase). Dispite the downturn, the IT spending of Gulf nations is expected to rise 12%. The efforts to create a single currency for the Gulf states is actually gaining urgency with the economy weakening. The bridge linking Africa and the Arabian peninsula is still being considered (and the planning has begun on a tunnel linking Morocco and Spain).

And China is continuing to compete with Europe for influence via trade and investment in Africa.


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