The year 2015 was a very challenging and unsettling year for the world where conflicts and the global economic downturn dominated the proceedings. Although it was a challenging year, there were positives, such as cooperation between some countries which was assisted by multilateral organizations namely the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN).
One of the success stories of cooperation is the relationship between Kazakhstan and African countries. Following on from the article titled “Kazakhstan’s Observer Status at the African Union: What Does It Mean for Africa?” this blog will reflect on the relationship between Kazakhstan and Africa and puts into perspective where the relationship should be at this point.
Understanding Kazakhstan in African affairs is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, Kazakhstan obtaining observer status in the African Union gives it a great position in influencing and being part of the African plan going forward. It is important for Africa to have such relationships especially now that there is a global economic downturn and the world is facing an unpredictable time. As noted by Minister Erlan Idrissov from the Kazakhstan Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are great possibilities that come with cooperation especially in the trade and economic sector between the two regions.
Secondly, Kazakhstan in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has made significant steps to strengthening South-South cooperation by firstly organizing an event to help implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa in consideration of Agenda 2063. Kazakhstan has a 2050 Strategy that it is pursuing and the AU has Agenda 2063, both goals have similarities in terms of implementation. This illustrates that both regions share similarities and should there be a need for assistance for both Kazakhstan and African countries, there will be a partner who is going through the same phase and capable of assisting. Thirdly, Kazakhstan is also well-known for its steady record in the promotion of South-South knowledge exchange and offering knowledge in oil, coal and gas mining, urban sanitation, growing wheat, arid land irrigation and sustainable transport management. These areas are of increasing importance for realising Africa’s Agenda 2063, ensuring the possibility of mutual benefits from this relationship.
The deep ties between African countries and Kazakhstan will continue for a very long time judging from the efforts that the countries are making. The year 2016 has been dubbed as the year of intensified cooperation between African countries and Kazakhstan, this stems from the commitment made by Western and Northern African leaders who will visit Kazakhstan this year to strengthen the relationship.
Although there has been a substantial amount of publications that have commended this relationship, it is time to take a step forward and be mindful of romanticizing the relationship without seeing the desired outcomes. This is the year where leaders need to take the relationship to greater heights. It is time for the on-going meetings that lay plans on the table to result into concrete conclusions otherwise we will stay trapped in one area for a long time. For instance, at the annual (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Kazakhstan stated that it wants to contribute to the transformation and modernization of Africa which is something it has been preaching since it gained observer status at the AU.
The relationship between Kazakhstan and African countries is strong but there is still room for improvement. The time for talks is over; promises and commitments made by Kazakhstan should be implemented. There is a sense that the relationship has the potential of reaching greater heights to benefit the people of both regions.