South-South Cooperation is a term we’ve heard in recent history mainly from policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries also known as countries of the Global South.
Last week, Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam moved beyond the academia and policy ‘isms’ seeking instead to meet the aspirations of their own tiny Global South into practical economic cooperation spanning a whole gamut of 14 areas in their collective development efforts – from energy, agriculture and tourism to air, land and sea transport networks; and education, sporting events to industry and tax reforms.
In other words, we’re not just going to be talking about mere dialogue on how to work together but real circulation of human capital, goods and services that matter; we’re also going to real people breaking linguistic barriers to deliver real change in the lives of our peoples; in crude shorthand, we’re shedding off mere terms that have been emerging in transnational and postcolonial studies to practical, hands-on experiences on the ground.
Of course, we may still be called “less developed countries,” and “less developed regions” of the Third World; these we may not shake off overnight: But we’re going to rise beyond the socalled “metaphor for underdeveloped countries” to a people working together to change things from within.
But, alas, did we even know that there was precious little to copy from – for the simple reason that soils and agronomic practices that fuelled those agrarian reforms were totally different from Africa’s? True, we may have had “interconnected histories of colonialism and differential economic and social change through which large inequalities in living standards, life expectancy, and access to resources were maintained.
But that was it. In the words of Founding Father Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, you “cannot develop” the people; you can only give them the tools with which to develop themselves. That’s the way we see the current Addis-Dar cooperation agreements: Giving the people the tools with which to develop themselves.