Thanks Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton. Thank you very much. The title of this article is from Ms. Clinton’s Lusaka speech. She deserves many standing ovations for this warning. The only disagreement with her is that she singled out China’s massive investments as the one deserving of close watching. Any investments in Africa whether by USA, EU, China, Japan. Russia, or even by Africans etc, need to be closely watched.
If Africans had to single out investments to be watched they would begin with USA, France, and Britain before I can get to China.
The reasons for this is based on experience. Take massive investment in Nigeria by British Petroleum or Dutch Shell or US Exxon/Mobile as an example. Take a look at the Delta Region of Nigeria. What do you see? Pollution, (air, water, degraded agricultural land) unemployment (even when high school graduates are imported for jobs that the indigenes would do without sweat), lack of Technical Schools to train Nigerians, corruption of both the state and federal governments. These projects while sustainable only benefits the citizens of the investor countries (USA, and EU) but have done nothing to the average Nigerian and may have possibly benefited Nigerian elites who simply transfer their loot back to the investor countries in numbered accounts to be seized by their governments at earliest provocation.
If the “massive” oil investment is left out what about the “massive” investment at Ajeokuta Steel by Russia? It has not produced one tonne of steel since attempted implementation. Should we not look into it? How about UAC, Leventis, and other retail businesses? What of the investments on road constructions by the Italian companies? Why are Nigerian roads that are 5 years old not passable now whereas those in US built 50 years ago still look as if they were built just last year? Should they not be closely watched as they try to invest now?
No Ms. Clinton ALL INVESTMENTS in Africa need close watching! Our experience of our colonial investments and their new friends from America need to be watched perhaps with greater intensity. They have robbed us before and would do so again. It is in their blood veins. And in their DNA. They left or are still there but we do know that “…it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave…” Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Congo, etc are each carrying that burden. We have been hurt by the West much more than China could ever hurt us.
In fact Africa should watch the West much more intensely than they watch China. for it appears that China is mostly interested in “…taking out natural resources, paying off leaders and leaving…” while US and EU is interested in doing that and also controlling the domestic affairs of the countries, and directing their foreign policies to benefit not just them but their allies elsewhere such as Israel. Otherwise what is US business in bombing the African country of Libya? What is the business of the Mediterranean Fleet on the newly organized African Command if not to “protect” Africa? We do remember vividly the old Lagos Protectorate and its other brothers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Believe me we do remember
As for “…United States didn’t want foreign governments and investors to fail in Africa, but they should also give back to the local communities. We want them to do well, but also we want them to do good…” that is devoutly to be wished. We say Amen to that, but we also say please do not give it back to us in form of war ship for Nigeria, bombs in Libya, do not give it back to us in form of French army barreling their way into peoples homes in the Congo and Ivory coast and other Francophone African countries. Do not give it back to AU to fight your African Wars. Give it back to us in building a Harvard type university in Oji River in Enugu State, or in form of MIT in Diobu, or Otueke or at very least a factory in Jebba. For every investment in oil give us an institute of Engineering where the future oil explorers, future oil technicians would learn and help you with growing your investments in Africa.
A diamond refinery in Driefontein in South Africa would be good or a gold refinery in Kumasi, Ghana built by Canada’s African Queen Mines Ltd. If Western countries do these for us, it will provide us the leverage we need to negotiate with China to do more. In the absence of give backs by US and EU who have carted our sons and daughters for over 400 years and colonized us for over 200 years where do we stand when we tell China to do things differently.
So madam secretary let us start by removing what is in our eyes before jumping to and on China.
One more thing. Thanks for reminding Africa about keeping their eyes open on new investments in Africa. It is obvious that African leaders have the sole responsibility to police foreign investments in Africa. The leaders must be left free to strike deals they think benefits the investors and the owners of natural resources. A meddlesome West in these negotiations would not be helpful since the West is bidder in the exploitation of natural resources. It would leave the impression that the West is plotting its way to be the final winner of the bids. Africa should be treated as an adult.
When they make mistakes they would learn from it. Just like everybody else.
Thanks for you advise. We will heed it, except that we will add US and EU and China and others to the list.