In a 2018 paper, Casella and Formenti rely on work undertaken by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to illustrate the differences between the FDI patterns observed among large multinational enterprises (MNEs) depending on their ‘internet intensity’. They map UNCTAD’s digital framework into a conceptual matrix positioning digital categories on the basis of their internet intensity (the internet intensity matrix or IIM), along two dimensions: production and operations, on the one hand, and commercialization and sales, on the other. The IIM distinguishes between purely digital multinational enterprises, non-digital MNEs and a group of ‘mixed model’ MNEs which falls somewhere between the two extremes. Their subsequent analysis and findings is where things get interesting: as it turns out, digital MNEs have a share of foreign sales that is more than 2.5 times the share of foreign assets compared to traditional, non-digital MNEs. In other words, digital firms do not tend to invest a great deal in markets abroad in order to secure foreign sales. This is despite the fact that many of the world’s largest digital MNEs often make in excess of half of their sales abroad.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Electricity security is in today’s world a critical component for a well-functioning economy. Many African countries rely heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation, while others have successfully harnessed renewable energy sources – Kenya being an example, with over 80% of its power generation being from renewable energy sources. With the global push to de-carbonise national economies, particularly the power sector, the interdependence of countries through electricity trade will become increasingly important. Countries are now only looking to develop their own clean energy capacity, but will in future, also seek to harness that of neighouring countries through cross-border power trade.
One of the lessons of the sovereign debt crisis spurred by the COVID-19 global pandemic is that China now plays an outsize role in the African economy, having displaced Western governments and key international organizations to become Africa’s largest bilateral creditor, source of foreign direct investment, and trading partner. After four years of not-so benign neglect Washington’s attention is again focused on Africa, largely to curb the rising influence of China on the continent. However, the United States may discover that in this 21st century “scramble for Africa” many states have already chosen to align their economic interests with Beijing, with serious implications for Washington’s position at the apex of the global financial order. Nowhere is this more clear than in China’s unveiling of its e-currency, the digital yuan, and the potential it has for helping displace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Gray and Gills (2016) view South-south cooperation (SSC) as an organising concept and a set of practices in pursuit of historical changes through a vision of mutual benefit and solidarity among the disadvantaged of the world system. From this perspective, SSC has become increasingly important as a means for countries within the global south axis to share knowledge, experience, know-how and solutions. In forging these interactions between South-South countries, "horizontality" is pivotal for conveying ideas of trust, mutual benefit and equity among cooperating countries. There has been a longstanding relationship between Africa and the Caribbean, with the two regions historically collaborating in areas of mutual interest at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. This partnership has been renewed over time in keeping with changes in the global political economy. However, while these states continue to cooperate in multiple fora in relation to different issues, economic activity and trade between them remain negligible. This paper argues that there is potential to enhance integration between these two regions by mainstreaming trade relations through a deliberate effort by related governments via SSC.
An African-Caribbean Economic Engagement Network is a grand vision of bold design and will not be easy to achieve; however, the fact that it is possible should be cause for optimism.
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I propose that it is our current and future battles that will determine the meaning and impact of decolonisation in Africa and beyond. As things stand now, the dead are certainly not safe. Let me elaborate on this claim drawing from Professor Taylor’s work: his piece draws from the classics of Third Worldist Marxism and dependency theory to provide a sober account of Africa’s nominally post-colonial present.
While procedural reforms are important, substantive reform should be foregrounded. If substantive reforms cannot take place then African states should exit the ISDS scene.
If Africa is genuinely interested in the reforms of ISDS then the words of the Kenyan delegation at the UNCITRAL working group must be our yards stick; the desired outcome will only be achieved when we begin to consider the substantive issues in an open, frank, free, and transparent manner, noting the need to fast track the conclusion of a holistic reform process of the ISDS. Perceptions and plausible folk theories aimed at nothing but creating hegemony in ISDS must be shunned. My crystal ball tells me that ISDS is here to stay, thus we must make no mistakes, but shape ISDS to suit our future interests.