For anyone reading this report who still believes in the story that Africa was decolonized, I suggest you read the complete report of the German-Senegalese author, Kalidou Diouf here. It’s high time that intelligent people enter a discussion without the naivety of the past burdening the discussion of world policy. My previous reports here at NEO on the situation in Algeria, Western Sahara, and other African nations showed the nation-state view on Anglo-European control and some of the minute effects of this new colonialism. But the macro-view of the loss Africans are suffering because of external players is unbelievable. Let me begin with a report from Health Poverty Action which debunks the notion Africans are dependent on the outside world.
Africa Aid: By Any Other Name
When you hear about aid from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or USAID hitting Africa, nobody tells you about the “aid” being an investment. That’s right: anytime you hear of any entity “giving” aid to Africa, the real story is profit. Let me quote directly from the report from 2014:
“Whilst countries in Africa receive $162 billion in resources such as aid, loans, and foreign investment, a whopping $203 billion is taken out, mostly by multinational corporations, debt payments, tax dodging, and the costs imposed by climate change caused by the rest of the world.”
So, in this one example, the world receives about $41 billion back on the various investments (aid). But this “aid” imbalance is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
If we focus for the moment on France alone, the human devastation Africans suffer is inestimable. I am remembering something that former French President Jacques Chirac (pictured) said back in 2008 in describing the importance of French dependence on Africa. The former French leader said; “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third world country.” If we consider this a true statement, then it’s easier to put in perspective my past reports on new colonialism by France in North African nations. Quoting again from Kalidou Diouf’s story we find the reality with regard to the French:
“Industrial France has nothing to offer that would explain why it is still one of the richest countries in the world. The only reason the country is still as wealthy as it was 50 years ago is that the colonial system puts about 500 billion US-dollars a year from Africa into its treasury.”
While Diouf’s texts are not the most scholarly you can find, my research bears out his estimation of French blackmail and theft of African riches in past eras. What most people do not realize, however, is that France maintains tight control of at least 14 former African colonies through a currency called the colonial-era currency (CFA). I know, you never heard of it, but the French may as well have troops in nations like Benin, Congo, Ivory Coast, Tongo, and ten others. To be fair to France here, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Russia, and the Middle East OPEC crowd play an imperial role as well. But France deserves credit for being the biggest beneficiary from old Colonial times. But today’s African colonial system is dominated by one old imperialist player, alongside two nations that emerged as superpowers after World War II.
France Passes the Imperial Torch
In 2015, at celebrations of the 55th anniversary of the independence of Chad, President Idriss Deby declared to attendees:
“We must have the courage to say there is a cord preventing development in Africa that must be severed.’ The ‘cord’ he was referring to is now over 71 years old. It is known by the acronym ‘CFA franc.’”
In 2017, the United States Justice Department alleged Déby accepted a $2 million bribe in return for providing a Chinese company with an opportunity to obtain oil rights in Chad without international competition. And this brings us to the bigger colonialism criminals on our world. Enter America, Britain, and China. I turn now to a story written by Professor Macharia Munene, who’s a history and international relations instructor at the United States International University in Kenya. “Scramble for Africa II is gaining momentum,” frames the current struggle between America, Britain, and China’s geo-strategic battle over Africa. The author does not go into great detail, but his point about nations “fearing” that others will leverage control is vital here. This “fear” component can also be seen by the fact that the French and Germans seem paranoid about Chinese influence growing in the region. What other reason can there be for the French firm Coface preparing the in-depth report “Sub-Saharan Dependency on China trade?”
Then there are the Americans to consider. If France is blackmailing African nations with currency and economic disasters, it’s no surprise to find the Americans deploying every dirty trick in the book to subdue the restless Africans. A case in point comes to us from none other than Voice of America, and the warning (threat) that the U.S. may withdraw all counterterrorism units from the continent. This unbelievable report was from September 2nd, the Sub-Saharan “China” report was reported September 3rd, “Scramble for Africa” was on the 2nd, and the story “China’s Xi promotes ‘Belt and Road’ as Africa growth tool” came out the same day. My question is: “Where is the African position in all this talk of Africa?” I’ll let you think about this.
Kimberly Ross at the Washington Examiner makes part of my summary for me, thankfully. “How the new colonizers forget the people of Africa,” albeit from the socio-cultural perspective. Ross delves into the “core” disruptive/control factor of policy toward Africa through a look at Nigerian activist and author Obianuju Ekeocha. To quote Ross on interventionists such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
“African nations are filled with diverse and talented individuals with rich and colorful histories. Those born and those yet to deserve better than to be used as pawns by foreigners who want to be seen as a continuous funding source and necessity, but never an actual solution to internal ills.”
Ms. Ross’ report is sharp, stunningly critical, but it only presupposes that rich philanthropists are naïve do-gooders. The issue taken a step further, we find the “investment” quotient laying just beneath the surface. Ross’ “ideological neocolonialism” is only one facet of the greater neocolonialism ravaging Africa and other parts of the world. In fact, there are no such things as an “ideological” version, for robber barons have only one ideal – profit. The intensified battle over the African legacy is best framed via reports like this one from South African analyst and coordinator of the Economic Justice Program at the AIDC, Dominic Brown. In this fine essay, the author lays out neoliberal economics and the failed fiscal policies that now fuel a war for Africa’s remaining resources. Brown describes how failed economics have led to the “New Cold War” between the U.S. and Russia, and to the friction between America, China, and to a lesser extent Europe. The author goes on to describe Africa as the “economic playground” of these old and new imperialist nations.
Africa Value: Far More Than Blood Diamonds
Africans, sooner or later, are going to have to shun the aid and maybe even the investments of failed imperial systems. This is the cold hard truth of the matter of neocolonialism. Look at the hypocrisy of the whole situation. The Trump administration’s National Security Strategy recognizes Africa’s economic potential and strategic value, and warns us of an “often extractive economic footprint” of the Chinese on the African continent! Citing directly from the National Security Strategy document (p.52):
“China is expanding its economic and military presence in Africa, growing from a small investor in the continent two decades ago into Africa’s largest trading partner today. Some Chinese practices undermine Africa’s long-term development by corrupting elites, dominating extractive industries, and locking countries into unsustainable and opaque debts and commitments.”
This nonsensical hypocrisy stands in stark contrast to what Aisha Dodwell, a campaigner for Global Justice Now, told The Guardian back in 2017:
“There’s such a powerful narrative in western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them. While the form of colonial plunder may have changed over time, its basic nature remains unchanged.”
Trump’s administration is no different from any other U.S. presidency where African relations are concerned. Nick Dearden addresses the fallacy that Africa is poor and past/present policies abruptly, but correctly when he says; “Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.” But, if you really want to understand American aid and investment in Africa, this Heritage Foundation think tank report (PDF) lays it out. I leave you with a final quote from these brilliant Washington thinkers that ends my report perfectly.
“According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 18.6 percent of U.S. oil imports in 2005, compared to 17.4 percent from the Middle East. “
And that’s just energy from 2005, my friends. Now tell me about the nations “helping” Africans.
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Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”