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Signs of Africa's recolonisation ominous

By unknown | Sep 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE after-effects of the global financial crisis might lead to the re-colonisation of some African countries, with some of them likely to go bankrupt, and others stripped of assets by Western and Eastern powers.

THE after-effects of the global financial crisis might lead to the re-colonisation of some African countries, with some of them likely to go bankrupt, and others stripped of assets by Western and Eastern powers.

The signs of Africa's re-colonisation are ominous: action is needed quickly; there is no time to shout slogans or blame imperialist forces without coming up with effective responses.

Europe is already planning to link the hydroelectric dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo to supply power to southern Europe.

The project has the backing of the World Bank. Yet, very few people in the DRC - less than 10percent of Congolese - have access to electricity.

Yet, United Nations Development Programme figures show that less than 30percent of Africans across the continent have electricity.

In all the countries through which the planned pipeline through which the electricity will flow from the DRC to Europe, very few ordinary citizens have access to electricity.

Last month the European Union signed an agreement with Nigeria, Niger and Algeria to channel gas to Europe through a direct pipeline to that continent.

Again, Nigeria, Niger and Algeria cannot even supply gas to their own citizens.

Two months ago a consortium of European companies announced they would build a facility that will direct solar power from the Sahara Desert to Europe.

They said this would satisfy 15percent of Europe's energy needs by 2050.

Western and Eastern governments and multinationals are also increasingly buying African land to set up commercial agricultural businesses, from which they export products back to their countries or to other markets.

A South Korean multinational bought fertile land in Madagascar and Sudan at a pittance.

Indian farming companies have fertile lands in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique. Chinese companies and Middle-East companies are also buying tracts of land for agriculture.

A report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said more than 2,5hectares of African land had been bought by foreign companies since 2004.

Yet, most African countries now import food. Similarly foreign companies are also increasingly buying up African mines on the cheap, as African countries fail to come up with strategies to deal with the effects of the global financial crisis.

Western and Asian countries buy up African minerals to stockpile supply to buttress global commodity price fluctuations. They are looking for strategic commodities, including platinum, oil and gas.

The African Union estimates that more than $150billion (about R1,13trillion) a year is looted from Africa through tax avoidance by giant corporations' and capital flight using "a pinstripe infrastructure" of western banks, lawyers and accountants.

But is not only money that leaves Africa every year, it is also skills that are leaving in the brain drain of local expertise to industrial countries.

The brain drain is a combination of hostile environments in Africa, with a lack of democracy in African countries and jobs being allocated to pals. African countries must now increase manufacturing and trade with each other.

We must stop just exporting raw materials, which generates little jobs. We need to pool our money, knowledge and expertise. We will need effective leadership. Furthermore, we must boost the quality of our democracies and cobble together industrial policies through developmental coalitions between governments, communities, business and civil societies.

Finally, African countries together must speedily form a continental common market and political union, underpinned by democracy.

l Gumede is author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC


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