The Rise of Far-Right Movements and its Implications for Africa and Global Geopolitics

The outcome of recent European Union (EU) elections highlights the growing influence of far-right movements. Many new EU parliamentary members lean right, and the far-right made significant gains in the latest elections. Major countries like France and Germany were more affected by the far-right movements, which advocate nationalism, populism, xenophobia, racism, and anti-immigration sentiments. Italy and the Netherlands are also experiencing the impact of this political shift.

These movements are not limited to Europe; they are also gaining traction in the United States, posing a threat to the stability of the world’s most powerful nation. This raises important questions for Africa, a continent that has historically relied on the support of Europe and the US. The rise of far-right movements in Europe and the US, driven by historical ties, socio-economic factors, political dynamics, and transnational influences, has significant implications for Africa and global geopolitics.

A contributing factor to the rise of far-right movements is the perception of Africans and Afro-Americans in South America as sources of problems and threats. The colonial history of European powers in Africa has left a legacy of ethnic divisions, nationalist sentiments, and anti-Western resentment. These factors have fueled conflicts, instability, and migration from Africa, which in turn have triggered adverse reactions in Europe and the US. Far-right movements exploit these fears and prejudices to promote isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. They portray Africa as a burden and a danger to Western civilization, advocating for strict border controls, reduced aid, and less engagement with the continent and its diaspora. This rhetoric undermines efforts to build cooperation and solidarity between Africa and the Western world, threatening the prospects for peace and development in these regions.

The post-colonial political and economic ties between Africa and the West also shape their relationship. After gaining independence, many African countries maintained close links with their former colonial masters, who continued to influence their domestic and foreign policies. European powers provided development assistance, trade preferences, and security cooperation, but these ties were often unequal and exploitative. This led to dependency and resentment among African elites and masses.

Far-right movements in Europe and the US challenge this status quo, arguing that the West has been too generous with Africa and should prioritize its interests. They oppose multilateralism, human rights, and democracy promotion, favoring unilateralism, sovereignty, and national identity. They also question the benefits of globalization and free trade, which support protectionism and economic nationalism. These views have implications for the future of political and economic cooperation between Africa and the West and global order and governance.

Some schools of thought argue that far-right policies could reduce market access, cut development assistance, increase conflicts, restrict mobility, and violate dignity. These impacts could undermine Africa’s development goals and worsen its vulnerability and marginalization. Nonetheless, some African countries have made significant progress in advancing democracy, peace, and integration and addressing everyday challenges such as climate change, health, and terrorism. These front-runner countries in different regional economic communities (RECs) should lead the charge to lessen dependence and encourage self-reliance on the continent by growing intra-African trade.

As they say, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” It is time for the continent to be intentional about the structural transformation of its economies. Numerous studies reveal that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are vital in structurally transforming African economies by enabling innovation, productivity, and competitiveness. They facilitate access to information, markets, services, and opportunities and enhance governance, accountability, and participation. Further, ICTs also foster human capital development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

Lessons from the more integrated RECs have shown that Africa can take several steps to address any challenges that may arise if far-right movements’ threats come to life. Africa should aggressively promote trade integration, enhance natural resource diversification, and leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost intra-African trade. By reducing trade barriers, tariffs, and quotas, African countries can enhance their trade potential and benefit from economies of scale, market diversification, and knowledge spillovers. This can lead to increased income, employment, and welfare for the African people, supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Ongoing government and international responses to far-right movements can be divided into prevention and intervention strategies. Prevention strategies address the root causes of these movements, such as socioeconomic inequalities, political grievances, and cultural differences. In contrast, intervention strategies aim to counter the negative impacts, such as violence, extremism, and human rights violations. Examples of prevention strategies include promoting dialogue, enhancing social and economic opportunities, reforming political institutions, and addressing historical injustices. Intervention strategies include monitoring and exposing far-right movements, enforcing legal frameworks, strengthening security cooperation, protecting victims, and engaging sympathizers. Many of these interventionist and preventative strategies have yet to work.

Therefore, Africa needs to be proactive and strategic in responding to the challenges and opportunities posed by the rise of far-right movements in Europe and the US. The continent should not be complacent or defensive but rather seek to engage constructively and diplomatically with its partners while asserting its interests and values. Africa should also leverage its strengths, such as its young population, cultural diversity, natural resources, and regional integration, to foster sustainable and inclusive development. By doing so, Africa can demonstrate its resilience, solidarity, and potential as a global actor and contribute to promoting peace, democracy, and human rights worldwide.. Africa should also leverage its strengths, such as its young population, cultural diversity, natural resources, and regional integration, to foster sustainable and inclusive development. By doing so, Africa can demonstrate its resilience, solidarity, and potential as a global actor and contribute to promoting peace, democracy, and human rights worldwide.

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