In his ground-breaking book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney argues how the countries of Europe exploited Africa for their own development. He argues that colonialism brought about the disintegration of the African economy and European technological improvement. He takes the view that Africa was deliberately exploited and underdeveloped by European colonial regimes.
In the book, first published in 1972, Rodney argues that a combination of power politics and economic exploitation of Africa by Europeans led to the poor state of African political and economic development evident in the late 20th century.
It is more than four decades since Rodney wrote his book but his arguments still stand today and what he said is more evident today as Africa continues to wallow in poverty as its resources – natural and human – continue to be lost to Europe and America.
Last week, we reported that rich nations continue to plunder Africa of its resources through unethical means including tax dodging, profit repatriation and debt repayments. According to the latest Honest Accounts 2017 report produced by a group of non-governmental organisations, while US$161,6 billion flowed into Africa, mainly through loans and aid, $203 billion has been siphoned out of Africa by the Western countries, including their multinational corporations, in 2015 alone.
The $203 billion was taken from the continent either directly – mainly through corporations repatriating profits and by illegally moving money out of the continent – or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change.
Statistics show that while Africans receive $31 billion in personal payments from overseas, multinational companies operating on the continent repatriate a similar amount, $32 billion, in profits to their home countries each year. African governments received $32.8 billion in loans in 2015 but paid $18 billion in debt interest and principal payments, with the overall level of debt rising rapidly.
An estimated $29 billion a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and the trade in wildlife and plants.
How sad. We tend to cheer and applaud when our governments sign agreements to receive aid from abroad but do not bother to delve into the conditions under which those aid agreements are arrived at. Yet the siphoning of Africa’s resources comes under various guises. More worrying is the fact that this is aided by some Africans, mostly those occupying powerful positions in business and politics, for their own selfish benefits.
Gone are the days when Africa had selfless leaders who tenaciously fought for the political independence of the continent from colonial exploitation. If Africa’s founding fathers like Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ahmed Ben Bella and Haile Selassie were to come back to life today, they wouldn’t recognise the continent whose independence they fought so hard for.
Africa risks being recolonised because it is still rich in natural resources which the former colonial masters are after to prop up their economies.
The tragedy is that in most Africa, week-kneed stooges masquerading as leaders have come to power. They pander to the whims of colonial powers Britain, France and the United States at the expense of their own people. It is a tragedy that thousands of Africans die each year trying to cross the Mediterranean sea to seek greener pastures in Europe. It is high time Africa leaders united in defence of the continent’s resources. We fervently hope and pray that the younger generation of African leaders will pick up the baton left by the continent’s founding fathers and defend it against neo-colonisation and the plunder of its wealth.
For Africa can no longer continue to be a continent of hunger, disease, poverty and corruption. While the founding fathers fought and defeated colonialism, the new generation should fight for economic emancipation, while at the same time defending the continent’s territorial integrity. While the old guard of leaders fought for political independence, Africa today needs leaders who will champion the fight for its economic emancipation and this can only be done through the exploitation of its resources for the benefit of its peoples.
The $203 billion siphoned out of Africa in 2015 alone is a huge amount of money that could have made a difference and brought about the much needed development on the continent.
It is high time Africa takes a united stance against the exploitation of its resources.