Stuck in traffic this afternoon in Accra (the traffic is an entire book in itself). BBC suddenly stopped, and over the airwaves came Voice of America. I wouldn't normally listen to that but I wasn't doing much.
One of the top stories was a long diatribe on the problems in Côte d'Ivoire. First up--it seems that Ouattara has launched "yet more" attacks against his former allies. It seems that the ongoing difficulties there are ultimately going to cause Ghana to become the Queen of Cocoa. There followed a fairly lengthy explanation of why this would be. According to VOA, the age of the average cocoa tree in Cote d'Ivoire is now thirty years, which is past the age of peak production. Farmers in Côte d'Ivoire have not bothered to replant their trees because of the interminable civil problems. Why invest in new trees if your crops may be destroyed or your land confiscated in the fighting?
But what jumped out at me was the repeated mantras about Ghana. For an article which was supposedly about Côte d'Ivoire, they sure talked up Ghana. Ghana is peaceful. Ghana is stable. Ghana will attract the foreign investment that Côte d'Ivoire desperately needs simply to prevent its cocoa production from entering a terminal decline. Ghana has had peaceful elections since 1992. Ghana. Ghana. Ghana.
On the other hand, any time Cote d'Ivoire was mentioned, it was in the context of ongoing instability (now going on ten years), and implied instability of the new President, Ouattara. Infrastructure failing. Instability. Lack of investment. Cocoa trees dying. Production falling. Cote d'Ivoire soon to be of limited importance in the cocoa market.
A few weeks ago, I wrote this:
The Americans have promoted Ghana as the gateway to West Africa. A part of this is the development of a highway system through Ghana from the coast to the interior. The French have their own ideas--that Ivory Coast will be the gateway to the interior.Considering that Voice of America is US propoganda, it is quite clear that the US intends to make Ghana the gateway to West Africa, and they have already launched their first assault against the French in West Africa.
Not sure if this is connected, but just as I was leaving West Africa, the French propoganda channel stated that the French Foreign Minister had threatened to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan. Admittedly, the exact wording was "Withdrawal of French forces from the Afghan mission has not been ruled out"--but recall that a diplomat will never come out and tell you what's on his mind. Instead of "I hate your guts and I'm going to kill you", a diplomat would say, "We have a fundamental difference of opinion, but I believe there is an elegant solution to our current impasse."