World Bank and International Monetary Fund) have set up, since the 1990s, a strategy that is no longer merely a welfare one, subordinating their aid to the adoption by governments of structural interventions (SAP: Structural Adjustement Program). This strategy, if it involved the drastic reduction of unproductive financing, often destined for the realization of oversized and image-only projects (as an example, the construction of the new capital of the Ivory Coast Yamoussoukro, in place of the ancient Abidjan), and paved the way for the liberalization of individual state economies, however, forcibly translated into policies of monetary devaluation, which have significantly increased, in the short term, social unrest, affecting above all those who had managed to secure a fixed income and thereby aggravating the already dramatic employment situation. On the other hand, the theoretical advantages represented by a greater export capacity have in fact been canceled out by a double order of objective situations. In the first place, most of the States export the same goods: food (here it should be positively emphasized how the enhancement of livestock has been initiated by Mali, Kenya, Botswana and some others), agricultural and mining raw materials. Secondly, almost all of these assets have little elasticity, therefore the decrease in prices does not necessarily translate into an increase in demand. Therefore, excluding the oil countries and, in general, those of Mediterranean and southern Africa, defined as “useful” by countryaah.com, also for evident geopolitical reasons, the others, all placing themselves as potential sellers, have seen a reduction in export earnings and, consequently, further worsen their balance sheets. To confirm this, year after year, the world ranking built on a data that is difficult to calculate in turn, but considered synthetically expressive of the general socio-economic conditions, namely income per capita, sees (2008) as many as 17 African states among the last 20, with the minimum value of only 55 dollars for Zimbabwe, while the first continental place is occupied by Libya (8100 dollars). Furthermore, “historical” situations inherited from the colonial era have disappeared: in the north-western section, once subject to colonial rule and then to French economic influence, at the same time as the devaluation of the CFA franc (traumatic event, since the fixed parity of this currency, official in 14 states, compared to the French franc it was guaranteed since 1948), in 1994 the foundations were laid, in Dakar, of an economic and monetary community (UEMOA, West African Economic and Monetary Union), a substantially new form of integration, if it is true that the much broader Organization of African Unity (OAU), in over forty years and despite having progressively expanded to all the states of the continent (except Morocco, which came out in 1984), has failed to promote initiatives of any appreciable concreteness in the economic field, even after its transformation, in the 2002, in the African Union (AU).
The emphasis of the organization’s activity remains, in fact, focused on the themes of peace, democracy and political stability. Even in this respect, however, the AU failed to go beyond sending observers in the most delicate situations, using a special fund for the prevention and resolution of conflicts. In some cases, such as in the context of the humanitarian and political crisis that has hit the Darfur region, the AU has also sent its own military. But the poor political cohesion of the member countries and the logistical-financial difficulties in coordinating the operations make these interventions insufficient or not conclusive. In any case, the African political balance appears, at the beginning of the century. XXI, increasingly clearly diverged between an economic polarity in the South and a cultural and religious polarity in the North of the continent. In southern Africa, the democratization process of South Africa, now free from international sanctions after the repeal of the racial laws and the reincorporation of the Bantustans has restored unity and propulsion to the great economic potential of that country, with a strategic role with respect to the entire southern hemisphere, as evidenced by the entry (1994) of South Africa itself into the Southern African Development Community (SADC), established in 1992 and which sees the participation of 15 States, with the objective of customs unification. The awarding of the 2010 World Football Championships sanctioned, in practice but also from a symbolic point of view, the international community’s recognition of the progress made by the Southern African country. In the Mediterranean basin, Islamic fundamentalism and extreme political positions seem to compromise the economic-political equilibrium of Algeria and Libya, weakening those relations which, hopefully, should have favored the rapprochement between North Africa and Europe, as shown by the crisis diplomatic unleashed in 2010 between Libya and Switzerland.