African leaders have warned that the lingering global financial crisis coupled with the collapse of talks on a world trade agreement could hinder the United Nations’ campaign to improve life for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest.
Africa, despite being rich in natural resources, is the least developed continent in the world . . .
Africa is believed to be the place where modern humans originated from. The continent was home to the ancient Egyptian civilisation along the banks of the Nile as well as prosperous kingdoms and city-states later on. The decline of these African states coincided with the rise of the Arab empire. Africa has suffered ever since.
Africa was exploited and its people were sold as slaves by the local chieftains, first to the Arabs and later to the European powers, led by Portugal, who transported them across the Atlantic to the New World. After slavery was abolished in the Americas, the mad scramble for Africa’s natural resources led to the colonisation of almost the entire continent by the European powers – France, Britain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy. They required raw materials for their industries as well as markets for their finished products. The continent became a colony of Europe and boundaries were decided by the foreigners. The disastrous effects of political colonisation can be felt to this day. Many of Africa’s civil wars can be traced to the redrawing of boundaries by the colonisers.
After the Second World War, African countries gradually became independent. The initial hope that Africa would get out of the mess with political independence was short lived as the continent was affected by civil wars, droughts, famines and disease.
Africa became dependent on external borrowings and foreign aid. The economic colonisation of Africa began. Organisations like the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank that were controlled solely by the developed countries led by the United States imposed economic measures as conditions for the delivery of loans and aid. These measures are nothing but plans of the multinational corporations headquartered in the developed countries to exploit the natural resources of Africa. The exploitation of Africa’s mineral wealth by foreign corporations has completely ravaged Africa. Aided by corrupt dictators and inefficient leaders who stash away their ill-gotten wealth in secret foreign (especially Swiss) bank acounts, the people of Africa are being robbed of their natural resources. In 1970, one in ten of the world’s poor lived in Africa. That figure has now risen to 50%.
60% of Africans work in the agricultural sector with a majority of them being subsistence farmers. Globalisation has pushed Africa to the brink of disaster. The loathsome policies of the WTO have increased the misery in Africa. While the African countries have opened up their markets as well as mining and petroleum sectors to foreign corporations, the U.S., the E.U. and Japan protect their farmers with massive agricultural subsidies and high import tariffs. This keeps the price of farm produce artificially low in the developed countries making African exports uncompetitive. Thus, African farmers are forced to grow cash crops for export instead of food crops. Combined with the vagaries of the climate as well as desertification of vast tracts of land bordering the Sahara desert, starvation and severe malnutrition are common in Africa, especially countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Horn of Africa.
While farmers in a country like India are also at the receiving end of the vile policies of organisations like the IMF that are stridently supported by their shameless stooges within the country (read this post about farmers’ suicides), India’s service sector and to a lesser extent, the manufacturing sector have managed to take globalisation in their stride and have even managed to emerge stronger. As a result, India’s growing economic clout has enabled it to successfully oppose moves by the developed countries to suggest outrageously unfair trade practices at the WTO in the name of “free trade”. India must not sacrifice the lives and livelihoods of millions of its farmers as well as its food security for the sake of a few tuxedoed thugs who belong to predatory multinational corporations!
What about the Dragon? China has taken full advantage of globalisation and has virtually become “the factory of the world”. Cheap Chinese products have wiped out the few manufacturing industries in the African countries. China has also begun to take part in the economic exploitation of Africa. The Dragon wants to import raw materials from Africa, turn them into cheap manufactured goods and dump them back on the African countries. The low quality Chinese goods are suspected throughout the world and the poor standards in China have even led to the deaths of infants due to contaminated dairy products.
Promises of aid are not going to develop Africa. Certainly not! Africans should not trust the rich countries (as well as countries like China and India) as the vile policies of organisations like the IMF, World Bank and WTO will drive Africa to complete destitution. Even if Africa gets some paltry aid, the strings attached to it are meant to favour the economic terrorists who seek to exploit Africa’s natural resources with the help of Africa’s corrupt dictators.
(To be continued)