The Keep Africa Poor and Dependent Project

 

Exploited and abused for generations by white colonial powers and manipulative economic structures, there is a growing feeling of solidarity within parts of the African continent, as exemplified by the #NoMore movement. Covid vaccine inequality and environmental injustice, together with recent events in Ethiopia have galvanized people.

Ideas of African unity and rage against former imperial forces are nothing new; the chain of suppression and exploitation of African nations is long, running from slavery and colonialism (including colonial extraction) to wealth and climate inequality, racial capitalism and now Covid vaccine apartheid.

Despite the fact that many would say Africa was united long before Europe – family to tribe, tribe to nation, nation to continent, with 54 countries spread over a vast area – establishing a defined Union of Africa seems unlikely, if not impossible. Standing in solidarity, rejecting western intervention, challenging the exploitative status quo and reductive notions of development based on a defunct western model is not; indeed, if African nations are to prosper and create vibrant economies allowing its burgeoning young population to fulfil their enormous potential, they must.

Poverty amidst abundance of resources

Blessed with rich environments and vast natural resources, Sub-Saharan Africa should certainly not be poor. But for huge numbers of people across the continent grinding poverty and hardship are the norm.

According to the World Bank report Accelerating Poverty Reduction in Africa, while those living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 a day) has fallen in the last twenty years, the number of “poor people [living on $5 a day or less]…has increased from 278 million in 1990 to over 413 million” Over 80% of those living in stifling poverty are found in rural areas where education and health care are scarce.

Natural resources dominate many African economies and, along with agriculture, are central to the livelihoods of the poor rural majority. African natural resources that are owned by multi-national mining companies, dug out of the ground by grossly underpaid local workers, are exported for production in goods that are sold in the rich developed nations. This has been the role of Sub-Saharan Africa for generations, and is fundamental to the prosperity of advanced countries: they need the raw materials and they need them to be dirt cheap.

The handful of conglomerates that dominate, collude in enabling monopoly buying structures. Contracts agreed at national levels are administered by middle-men, often corrupt, in the pockets of the corporation; the local workforce have little choice but to accept whatever ‘terms of employment’ are offered; poverty entraps and silences rebellion.

It is a crippling model of suppression and exploitation; a form of wage slavery – that holds not just the workers in its suffocating grip, but the nation and continent. It is one of the main reasons African nations that are overly dependent on raw materials, whether cotton or oil, coffee, diamonds or Cobalt, are poor. Poverty is political, the result of short-term political and economic decisions taken in The West by duplicitous corporate-controlled governments.

The other reasons that ensure Africa remains poor and dependent are historical and economic: Colonization, which persists as economic and cultural imperialism, together with a certain mind-set of superiority/inferiority. A mind-set that maintains consciously or unconsciously that some people (black, brown) are worth less than others and, as Covid vaccine inequities demonstrate, can be sacrificed. The economic structures, global institutions and economic ideologies championed by abusive self-centered governments and promoted in the business schools around the world are all designed to ensure Africa remains poor: Imperialism never ended, it just changed form.

When colonial powers withdrew from the global south they needed new ways of maintaining the enslavement of Africa and Africans. Three interrelated weapons where used to create dependency: Aid, debt and the toxic Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), the overarching umbrella of control.

In the 1980s SAP’s where introduced; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) gave highly conditional loan packages to African nations in order to aid their ‘development’; in fact the loans/SAPs, which destroyed African economies and agriculture, were simply forms of debt entrapment. Once a country is indebted it becomes easy to control. SAPs hollowed out national economies and incorporated Africa into the global political economic system, dominated by the US. It’s economic warfare: the rich countries set up these unaccountable institutions and systems to control the poor nations.

The IMF, WB, World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), were given enormous political influence/control of African governments and economies. Funding for public services (e.g. education and health care) was slashed to repay loans; countries were forced to ‘liberalize’ their economies, and privatize, selling off key areas like utilities to western or western-backed companies.

In his book Confessions Of An Economic Hitman, John Perkins designates this process of economic terrorism as ‘Predatory Capitalism’: he describes how in an earlier period, during the 1950’s the IMF, CIA and US State Department set up a faceless bank to lend money to African countries that were producing raw materials; any national President that refused the loan was at risk of being handed over to the ‘Jackals’, as Perkins describes the CIA thugs that accompanied him.

At independence, many African countries were self-sufficient in food production and were in fact net exporters of food; SAPs and the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, changed all that. Countries were forced to withdraw State subsidies to agriculture (while farmers in Europe and the US receive huge subsidies); farmers suffered, food prices increased, food insecurity was created, dependency on aid and Western benefactors ensured and with it control by the US and her puppets, of Africa, its direction and ‘development’, or, as these paranoid selfish states would have it, its non-development.

‘Development as Westernisation

Within the narrow socio-economic paradigm that dominates global affairs, ‘development’ and perpetual economic ‘growth’ are regarded as all important. Dominated by quarterly national GDP figures, it is a reductive model designed by donor’ nations to serve not the people of Africa or Asia, but western corporations and the unjust, defunct Ideology of Greed, so beloved.

The very idea of development, has become synonymous with ‘Westernization’, including the way of life, the values, behavior and attitudes of the rich, ‘successful’ nations of The Westa hollow, deeply materialistic way of life rooted in division, selfishness and conformity that has poisoned and vandalized the natural environment, created unhealthy, unequal societies of anxious suppressed human beings.

In order to develop economists maintain Africa must industrialise and manufacture – no country has ever ‘developed’ without manufacturing. All this is true, and some African nations, like Ethiopia, which has a vibrant leather industry, are beginning to do just this. But this is only true within the suffocating boundaries of the existing model of extreme capitalism based on unsustainable consumerism.

There must be another way; perhaps as we sit at this transitional time, not just for Africa, but for the world as a whole, the opportunity presents itself to re-design the socio-economic structures, reimagine civilization, and in so doing save the planet. And perhaps Africa, unburdened, energised and dynamic can play a leading role; working with the West, but rejecting the model of conformity and exploitation, the conditionality of support.

The existing development paradigm sits within the overarching political-economic system, a system of global monopolies, centralized control, massive inequality, grinding poverty, financial insecurity and stress. Not only should this model of development be rejected by Africa, and it would be were it not for the Noose of Debt, and the fact that it is presented as the one and only show in town, but the poisonous spring from which it flows – Market Fundamentalism as some call it – must also be radically dismantled.

It may appear impossible to challenge, but there are alternatives to the current unjust political-economic system. And as the environmental and social impact of the Neo-Liberal experiment becomes more apparent, as well as the economic pain of the majority, more and more people around the world, especially within Africa, where the environmental emergency has inspired powerful movements of activism, recognize the urgent need to reject this way of organizing life and are demanding change.

Western powers (dried-up imperial forces) do not want Africa and Africans to flourish and become strong, this is clear to all. Africa’s destiny must rest in the hands of Africans, in particular young Africans (the median age in Africa is around 20, Europe is a greying 43, US a complacent 39), who are increasingly standing up, organizing, particularly in regard to the environment, and calling for change.

But what should that change look like? Not a shadow of Western nations, but a creative evolving movement of development in which the people have a voice; social and environmental responsibility are championed and lasting human happiness sit at its core. Unity is essential, African unity is essential; together, not necessarily under some defined structure, but coordinated cooperation and support through the medium of the African Union and civil society.

The first and most basic step towards establishing a less brutal, more just system would be the equitable distribution of the resources of the world – the water, land and food; the machinery needed to build infrastructure; the skills, knowledge and expertise.

The world is one: We are brothers and sisters of one humanity. And if we are collectively, within Africa and the world, to establish An Alternative Way, this basic fact needs to form the foundation and provide the touchstone of new systems and modes of living. Only then will we begin to build a global society in which the values of unity, compassion, tolerance and sharing, which are found in tribal societies all over Africa, may flourish.

Graham Peebles is a British freelance writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and India.  E: [email protected]  W: www.grahampeebles.org

 

6 thoughts on “The Keep Africa Poor and Dependent Project”

  1. Please allow me to interject something that does not have anything to do with the old country. Please join me in my prayers for our brothers and sisters in Madagascar who are facing another devastating natural calamity. A very strong cyclone is bearing down on them. This must be a third one in just a matter of a month. This is one is category 3 cyclone. Let’s have them in our daily prayers. Previous cyclones have left hundreds of thousands homeless. With winds exceeding 100mph they will not have a chance to stand their ground. Hundreds have already from the recent cyclones. Mozambique may not be spared from the wrath of this demon.
    There is another disturbance brewing right behind this one in the Indian Ocean. O Africa! My beloved Africa!!!!!

  2. Subject: “The Keep Africa Poor and Dependent Project” BY GRAHAM PEEBLE, FEBRUARY 18, 2022

    Humble Commentary, 18 Feb 2022
    The Author, Mr GRAHAM PEEBLE, has said it all about the eternal poor continent of Black Africans. As he put it, it is QUOTE: “designed to ensure Africa remains poor: Imperialism never ended, it just changed form.” UNQUOTE. Thank You, Mr.PEEBLE. That, says it all. Trillion pages about Black Africa can be written but the foundation of colonialism and the pure hatered of black skin Africans will never change — at least for generation, generations and generations to come.

    In the mean time, the suffering of black skin Africans will keep on going, ALL based on one and only one ’song’ The ETERNAL SUFFERING of the BLACK RACE. Oh, by the way, indigenous Africans will keep on writing volumes and volumes of fantastic beautiful dissertation at their comfortable places until their individuals last LIFE goes with the last wind. Educated Africans were never intensely taught about their own race but hypnotized to recite the history and superiority of the WHITE MAN’s Civilization. ! Needless to add, they never —and can never — succeed. Full Stop

    1. There is a new breed of youth in Africa and I am hopeful that they will be able to break the shackles of slavery that our people are currently enslaved in. The destruction of the present traitorous elites in Africa will be the first prerequisite.

  3. This is wonderful article This is the truth and
    last chance for the world. We are back at the cradle
    of mankind. Does man want to continue to commit suicide
    or will he chose life ???

  4. The Fallacy of Foreign Aid as Engine of Economic Growth

    By Teketel Haile-Mariam, PhD
    Addis Tribune
    October 4, 2002

    The World Bank and International Monetary Fund held their annual meetings in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, and repeated their promises at previous such meetings to make the poor nations of the world more prosperous. And Ethiopia had sent its own delegates to the meetings to plead for more loans. Protesters from across the globe, who believed these institutions had done (and continue to do) more damage than good through their ever increasing loans and misleading policy prescriptions, had also gathered to demonstrate their opposition to the activities of the institutions, which they also believed contributed to environmental degradation (and the changing weather pattern around the globe) and economic rape of the world’s poor.

    What roles did the international financial institutions play (and continue to play) in Ethiopia? Did their policy prescriptions and loans have significant and sustainable impact on improving macroeconomic performance and standards of living of ordinary citizens?

    Ethiopia had (and continues to have) a history of dependency on foreign assistance, whether that be in the form of food donations, military hardware, or loans for public investment. Although this history applies to all three recent successive regimes, non-military loans contracted by the current government over the last eleven years exceeded similar loans obtained over a span of about sixty years by the two prior regimes combined. And there had been negative correlation between the ever increasing loans and the levels of poverty. As loans increased, the per capita income (brute measure of the level of economic development) had stayed virtually unchanged, poverty had spread and deepened, and even by African standards, Ethiopia had lagged miserably and had become an example of most things wrong in that unfortunate continent, rather than being a symbol of freedom, unity, and prosperity.

    Then why borrow more? And why do international lending institutions want to repeatedly extend additional loans (often for the same intended purposes) when previous loans did not have much positive impact?

    The most common explanation given by the Ethiopian government to justify more borrowing is a fight against poverty. It usually quotes common statistics on widespread poverty, hunger, diseases, low level of agricultural technology, the AIDS epidemic, high level of unemployment, and such other indicators of a seriously ailing economy, and how foreign loans help in the fight against those ailments. Rarely does the government mention whether or not past loans had generated more benefits than their costs. It also does not mention the recent catastrophic consequences of high external indebtedness in countries with much more powerful economies like Argentina and Brazil, and other states in Latin America and Africa.

    There is another less obvious explanation as to why countries like Ethiopia need to borrow more despite the poor records of past loans, which is rooted in inferiority complex. Insecure governments usually consider their relationships with international lending institutions as forms of legitimization of their regimes, and they believe those perceptions would help them prolong their hold on to power. They get opportunities to attend international meetings organized by such institutions to be seen as legitimate members of the international community, and use such forums to lash out at their domestic opponents. They also use the staff of the international institutions to write reports favorable to their policies (similar to recent scandals in the United States securities industry where research analysts have been caught writing favorable but misleading reports on companies in the hope that would give their brokerage firms competitive edges in accessing investment banking businesses with the companies), and use those reports as affirmations of their repressive political and economic policies. We have heard and read this many times before, where the Ethiopian regime proudly stated the approval it had received from international financial institutions (such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) about the soundness of its policies of state ownership of land as well as ethnic regionalization under cover of decentralized administration.

    The international financial institutions know all too well that they have the upper hand in their dealing with insecure governments (and their employees), and are prepared to capitalize on the insecurity to advance their own agenda; the more insecure a government (and its employees), the better for the lenders. They are interested primarily to lend more for their own survival and to promote exports from the industrialized countries, rather than to help promote the economic development in the borrowing poor countries. They use academic, professional, and intellectual discourse and reports as covers to advance their real and hidden agenda of lending more, often by replicating previous programs under different name designations (such as policy adjustment, structural adjustment, sector adjustment, numerous variations of sub-sector rehabilitations, emergency recovery, emergency demobilization, and multiple variations of same project investment programs across all sectors and sub-sectors under different nomenclatures).

    As amply demonstrated in Ethiopia, the long record of borrowing by successive regimes had been ineffective in promoting sustainable development and in alleviating poverty. In fact, the reverse might have been true where more lending had driven the country into deeper poverty. As export earnings from traditional sources (such as coffee) decline, ever increasing shares of those earnings would be used to pay the rising debt services, thus leaving ever diminishing proportions of foreign exchange earnings for economic development (and poverty reduction). To add insult to injury, the loans can be used as instruments of foreign policy, as demonstrated during the Ethio-Eritrean conflict when donors (led by the above mentioned international financial institutions) attempted to withhold their funding as a leverage to get political concessions from Ethiopia. The more the dependency, the more the exposure to international political arm twisting and blackmailing.

    The typical and predictable response of the Ethiopian government to the above would be: you are only criticizing us for what we are trying to do, but what alternatives do you have to offer? Here are my suggestions.

    The first suggestion concerns principle. The key principle must be that government control of resources and micromanagement of economic activities by the public sector have not worked anywhere in the world, and there are no convincing reasons to believe such a policy framework would work in Ethiopia. Instead, private sector based economic policy framework is a superior prescription for economic success. That key principle must be modified slightly while dealing in international trade, which these days is commonly referred under the general term of globalization.

    While recognizing that exports are the key to future economic prosperity (and hence policies should focus on improving the country’s international competitiveness), allowing indiscriminately imports of goods that unfairly kill domestic manufacturers would not be prudent. The most prudent approach should be to first promote competition among domestic producers while protecting them initially from outside competition. As the domestic producers mature, protection can be lifted gradually. All developed economies have used this approach (and are still using it) under cover of “infant industry protection” or some other similar justification. Just see how the domestic textile and leather manufacturers are being decimated by cheap imports from Asia and second hand products from North America and Europe. Of course, the lending institutions would not support protection to be extended to the domestic manufacturers, often at the urging of exporting nations from behind, because that would undermine the market in Ethiopia for such imports.

    And the second suggestion concerns fundamental policy measures the government should take to promote rapid economic development and poverty reduction. Without being exhaustive, such policy measures should include:
    (a) letting the private sector be the engine of growth,
    (b) privatizing all land ownership, including agricultural land, which is the foundation of the economy and a source of employment for about 80 percent of the labor force,
    (c) purging all other policies that have been designed to stifle entrepreneurship, such as political parties’ ownerships of businesses and their involvement in commerce,
    (d) building strong financial system to promote saving, borrowing and investment. The nucleus for this exists since there are already many private banks which can be used as a base for strengthening the system,
    (e) maintaining small groups of highly paid professionals to manage the normal functions of government under a free market environment, and reducing the number of people working as government employees. These managers should contract with the private sector to handle as much as possible of the government’s work,
    (f) restructuring the federal system of government to organize regional administrations along geographic rather than ethnic groupings, with strong federal laws to protect the interests of minorities anywhere. This will promote free movements of capital and labor, and exchanges of ideas, as these are essential features of private sector based economy,
    (g) strengthening the rule of law to protect civil liberties and private property rights, and to strengthen commercial transactions,
    (h) aggressively containing the population explosion, and
    (i) making it easier for citizens to manage their own affairs by, for example, eliminating bureaucratic bottlenecks that encourage corruption and taking other small but tangible pro-citizenry actions.

    In summary, Ethiopia should proceed with vigorous programs of economic growth (which in due course would also reduce poverty) by harnessing her own resources first, supplementing those with foreign grants to the extent possible rather than with foreign loans. The government should refrain from investment in directly productive activities and engaging in commerce, and leave such undertakings to the private sector. Public investment should focus on improvement of infrastructure that would promote private sector investment and economic growth (such as in telecommunications, power, and transportation) and education. Under no circumstances should foreign loans be used to finance items that have dubious investment merit such as vehicles, studies by foreign “experts”, and any items that can and should be financed using domestic human, material, and financial resources. Local capacity building should be given top priority by giving preferences to domestic rather than foreign consults and contractors, and by strengthening local training institutions rather than sending trainees abroad. If necessary, foreign experts should be contracted to conduct their training in such local institutions rather than sending the trainees abroad since that would be more cost effective, sustainable, and best for building the human resource base.

    The above suggestions, if implemented, would surely reduce the need for heavy external borrowing, while at the same time promoting domestic resource mobilization, local capacity building, and the emergence of critical mass of middle class entrepreneurs. The suggestions would also provide a more solid basis for well-anchored, gradual, and sustainable development that would reduce poverty.

    More Information on Poverty and Development in Africa
    More Information on International Aid
    More General Analysis on Poverty and Development

  5. Humble Commentary, With Apology
    As time goes by, one gets the sad feeling, that the People of AFRICA will never be taken seriously by COLONIAL POWERS. And our beloved and dedicated LEADERS will keep on enjoying their Life and attending international meetings around the Globe for more debts and ……… please complete the sad sentence l!!!!???.

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