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.