To Whomever Cares to Listen,

“Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power,” these words were spoken by the former French President, Jacques Chirac in 2008 (voicofafrica). He was referencing all of the resources and money that France and other large countries have effectively siphoned from Africa. He was referencing neocolonialism. Neocolonialism is the use of economic, political, cultural, or other pressures to control or influence other countries, especially former dependencies (dictionary). Neocolonialism has had and continues to have a massive effect on the continent of Africa, it is partially responsible for why Africa’s economy cannot grow at a faster rate. Neocolonialism takes many different forms under which it can operate.

One of the ways that neocolonialism disguises itself is through unfair trade deals. On the surface these deal are a great idea a country receives some type of natural resource from Africa and provides Africa with some type of infrastructure, however these deals are oftentimes lopsided, in favor of the larger country. These deals have also been criticized for not transferring any skills to Africans, and instead opting to utilize Chinese labor in Africa(economist). There has also been backlash because Chinese companies have been accused of buying Africa’s primary goods, and selling back ready made skills, again without the transference of skills (economist).  Lamido Sanusi, Nigeria’s former central bank governor, says Africa is opening itself up to a “new form of imperialism” by engaging in these deals (economist).

Foreign aid is also a culprit in neocolonialism. Studies have shown that foreign aid does not help poverty ridden countries develop in the long run. Because it encourages rent seeking instead of productive activities it leaves the country that was on the receiving side of the aid not doing well economically and thus more susceptible to other, more direct forms of neocolonialism.

Another way that neocolonialism takes shape is a bit specific to France, but it should still be included. When France’s hand was forced to let it’s 14 African colonies have their independence, they put all their former colonies in a group of “compulsory solidarities”. They then required all counties in the group to give 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French treasury, plus another 20% for “financial liabilities” this means that each African former French colonies only ever has access to 15% of their own money, AND if they would like to borrow the money the belongs to them they are only allowed to do so at commercial rates. France also has the right of first refusal to every natural resource found in any of their former colonies(this is africa).  

Neocolonialism is a massive problem that reaps devastative effects on Africa, while lining the pockets of larger countries who take advantage. If more people can call attention to this issue, we will be able to pressure the neocolonial powers into not only stopping the theft but returning money and resources.

Tags:

CC BY-SA 4.0 Neocolonialism in Africa by Ariel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Pooja 2 months ago

    Dear Ariel :
    I am intrigued by your essay, “Neocolonialism in Africa,” because I think you made a lot of interesting and thought-provoking points.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “They then required all counties in the group to give 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French treasury, plus another 20% for “financial liabilities” this means that each African former French colonies only ever has access to 15% of their own money” I think this is horrifying because this forces a country, post-independence, to remain dependent on its former colonizer, and it seems almost mean spirited. It seems like these countries like France, Belgium, and England, all of whom have spent time colonizing Africa, really feel entitled to these countries, as if the countries are simply objects instead of human beings who deserve self-determination.

    Another sentence that I found interesting was: “If more people can call attention to this issue, we will be able to pressure the neocolonial powers into not only stopping the theft but returning money and resources..” This stood out for me because I wonder if it is true that these neocolonial powers will ever return the resources they have stolen from places like Africa and India. I think this conversation is really similar to the conversation about reparations for slavery–the American economic system was built on the backs of slaves, and our country owes slaves for being the economic power it is now. Somehow, whenever I think about reparations, though, it seems very unlikely to ever really happen.

    Your essay reminds me of something that happened to me. Or, more specifically, happened in India, where I am from. You wrote “On the surface these deal are a great idea a country receives some type of natural resource from Africa and provides Africa with some type of infrastructure, however these deals are oftentimes lopsided, in favor of the larger country.” Often, when people think about British colonialism of India, they think “ah but the British gave India its rail system.” I think this is truly patronizing–not only was the trade of “giving” railways not even close to equivalent to all the resources and minerals that the British took from India, nor was it worth the violence and bloodshed of independence, but also India probably would have been able to develop a rail system without the British’s help. When people suggest that infrastructure is a fair trade, they seem to still believe that countries in Africa and countries like India are not really capable of taking care of themselves and developing their own technologies. That’s sure some racist garbage!

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because it seems like you are really interested in this complex topic. You are also very good at explaining concepts very clearly.

Leave a Reply

CONTACT US

We welcome new members. You can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending

Youth Voices is organized by teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project and in partnership with Educator Innovator.

CC BY-SA 4.0All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Missions on Youth Voices

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account

%d bloggers like this: