New capitalist domination and imperialism in Africa

9 November 2015 by Jean Nanga

CC Flickr - Rod Waddington

The decolonization that began in the 1940s was essentially a passage towards neocolonialism, a mutation of the former colonies, a reconfiguration of the mechanisms of domination and exploitation by both the former colonial powers and other capitalists of the centre. It was necessary to adapt to the new balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. of power on the international stage (the new economic-military hierarchy, the “Cold War”) in both the colonial metropolises and the colonial territories. Three or four decades later, the disappearance of the so-called “communist” camp gave rise to a restructuring of the world order based on the dynamic of the neoliberalisation of capitalism that had been set in motion in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is characterized by a permanent strengthening of the global hold of capital on the world (globalization) and a dynamic of abolition of the “private estate” (concerning the former French colonies), the “backyard” (Latin America for the United States), etc., which were said to limit the free movement of capital, hitherto considered as an intrusion.

In this second decade of the twenty-first century there is a circulation of capital whose complexity is incomparably greater than that of the “age of empires”. Private capital from certain former colonial territories also participates in it, in a combined and uneven fashion. In some cases, this goes so far as to shake up the hierarchy inherited from the twentieth century. A change that even leads some people to speak of, or to fear already, an “imperialism in reverse” |1| supposedly resulting from the exponential growth of the GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
of some former economies of peripheral capitalism, or of the former so-called communist world? These economies are characterized as emergent, with a focus on China – which has already emerged, and even become the biggest economy in the world (in terms of GDP expressed in purchasing power parity), with increasing investment in Europe and the USA. |2| As for the present economic dynamism in Africa, some people do not hesitate to speak of a “time of Africa” – that is coming |3|, or indeed is already there. |4|

And, along the lines of the so-called “imperialism in reverse”, one observer who is very well-informed about the economic-political-military intrigues between France and Africa (reduced to its “sub-Saharan” part), seems to have identified a premonitory sign, speaking of an alleged inversion that is turning Françafrique into “Africafrance”. |5| But the demonstration is rather superficial, whereas what is quite evident is a “redeployment of French imperialism” |6| in Africa. Africa is continuing its (capitalist) social-historical vocation to be a field of economic competition for the old and new powers of economic globalization, especially with regard to the supply of raw materials, even though there is now the participation of private African capital in the circuits of neoliberal globalization. There is an activism of these powers which is also expressed militarily, to a greater extent than before, under the banner of the “war against terrorism”, “to counter the threatening chaos” - to paraphrase the ideologue of humanitarian imperialism, Robert D. Kaplan |7| So even though it has not exhausted the forms of domination of capital in African societies, imperialism is an undeniable reality in Africa today, even beyond the economic and military dimensions, as we will try to demonstrate later on.

Ceding the sovereignty of African states

The African economy of today is no longer the one written about by Lenin. It is no longer made up of a collection of colonial territories, but almost entirely of formally sovereign states, with which non-African states, including former colonial powers, are supposed to have relations of cooperation or partnership, respecting international commitments. However, this sovereignty is quite relative, weighed down by the persistent dynamic of neocolonialism. The mechanisms of subordinating dependence on foreign capital, export of raw materials, importing of manufactured goods from the former colonial metropolis and from other economic powers have not disappeared. They have been adapted to the dynamics of the unequal global order. That is what is demonstrated by the supposed African economic prowess today, celebrated almost everywhere: the constant average growth of its GDP for a decade, at around 5 per cent, which is above the world average and which, moreover, proved to be resilient following the outbreak of the crisis in the capitalist economies of the centre in 2008, after just a slight decline in 2009. The financial sector was able on the whole to remain steady, despite the South African situation (the country most affected by the crisis).

Far from being the proof of an endogenous economic dynamic, it was rather the manifestation of the dominance of foreign capital. The growth in question was mainly driven by the oil and mining sectors - where new deposits are being discovered, a factor of more extractive activity - whose main assets are, except for South African mining capital, those of “Western” transnationals (the North American and European oil and mining companies). These transnationals, supported by “their” states, act in a context of so-called free competition (also with the possibility of partnership) and no longer in a situation of neo-colonial monopoly – long held, for example, by the French oil company Elf (absorbed by Total) in Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon. This growth is also driven by exports of other raw materials (often the same since colonial times) in non-mining- or oil-based economies, where are active, for example, American and European agribusiness giants – Cargill, Archer Daniel Midland (ADM), Louis Dreyfus, etc. Transnationals are also attracted by Africa’s world leadership in return on investments, realization of superprofits and easy “illicit outflow of money” (made from plunder of resources, tax evasion, etc.): $528 billion flowed out of sub-Saharan Africa between 2003 and 2012 |8|, an annual average of 5.5 percent of GDP, the highest in the world. |9|

This situation is a consequence of the exogenous reorganization, from the 1980s onwards, of African economies through the neoliberal structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

programmes, including the “reform” of investment and labour codes. The IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
and the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 180 members in 1997), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.
imposed them on the states of traditional peripheral capitalism, those who were victims of an indebtedness promoted by the World Bank (the solution to the abundance of petrodollars) from 1980 on. Given the relationships of forces within these very hierarchical multilateral institutions and the specific weight of American economic interests in the decision to restructure the world economy, growth in Africa today comes principally from submission to (or execution of a project of) the American establishment, shared within the Trilateral Commission by the other bourgeoisies of the capitalist centre which are subordinate to it or indeed those which appear to be adversaries. |10|

Placed in a situation of suffocating financial dependence, African states have been forced into a partial ceding of sovereignty, which was already relative under classical neo-colonial domination. They are thus regularly subject to the missi dominici [envoys of the ruler] of capital, of the international financial institutions that organize the appropriation by capital of the European and North American powers (the “strategic investors”) of former African state enterprises considered to be the most profitable, as part of the Washington Consensus. A rather unique medical treatment that is more interested in healthy people and abandons the “lame ducks”. It is a new “civilizing” dispossession, integrating these societies into the neoliberal phase of capitalist civilization, as colonization had done in the phase known also as that of the decline of classical liberalism.

The repayment of external debt still represents – through interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. payments – a considerable drain from which international finance capital benefits. Thus, in 2004, UNCTAD UNCTAD
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
This was established in 1964, after pressure from the developing countries, to offset the GATT effects.
could scarcely hide its emotion when it noted what had been ceaselessly denounced by the networks for the cancellation of the debt of the Third World: “A quick look at the debt of Africa shows that the continent received some $540 billion in loans and paid back some $550 billion in principal and interest between 1970 and 2002. Yet the outstanding debt remained $295 billion.

“For its part, sub-Saharan Africa received $294 billion in disbursements, paid back $268 billion in respect of debt service Debt service The sum of the interests and the amortization of the capital borrowed. , but retains an active debt of some $210 billion [...]. Without taking account of interest and interest on arrears, the repayment of the outstanding debt would represent a reverse transfer of resources.” |11| This is a drain that is taking place in the sub-region with the highest proportion of poor in the world. The alleged present economic performance has facilitated another round of public debt (on the international financial markets), which is already alarming.

The apparent mark of generosity towards the countries characterized as “heavily indebted” – debt relief or cancellation – has more to do with a “favour” supported by some influential shareholder of the World Bank or the IMF who has something to gain from it. A negative demonstration of this was provided by the pressure exerted, a few years ago, on the Congolese government of Joseph Kabila to get him to revise downward the terms of a contract that was considered to have granted too privileged a position to China. If the government of Kinshasa had proved too stubborn, the international financial institutions would have prevented the promised cancellation of a significant part of the bilateral debt of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the Paris Club Paris Club This group of lender States was founded in 1956 and specializes in dealing with non-payment by developing countries.
. The blackmail worked, the contract was revised downward. The scope of the capitalist partnership between China and DR Congo was thus defined by the traditional principal shareholders of the international financial institutions which had their eyes on its natural resources.

Since domination is most effective when it is coated with a “nationalist” varnish, the African relay of this power of international finance capital over countries is provided by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the principal regional financial institution, supervisor of the New Economic Partnership for Africa (NEPAD) of the African Union, which is meant to organize the economic development of this region. In this financial institution, presented as pan-African, 78 countries participate, including 25 non-African, among which five members of the G7 (Germany, Canada, USA, France, Japan) own 25 per cent of the capital. This high degree of participation – to which should be added that of the two other G7 members, other European countries (the Swiss Confederation...) and so-called emerging powers – provides the power to subordinate its programmes to the major interests of the traditional powers. Thus, it is almost impossible to distinguish the AfDB recommendations from those of the Bretton Woods institutions where the domination of the traditional imperialist powers, the US in the lead, is maintained.

“Public aid for development” gives an air of generosity to this system of the organized dependency of African societies, whereas the Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM) poses the question: “In 2012, the repatriation of profits from the most impoverished region of the world accounted for 5 per cent of its GDP, against one per cent for public aid for development. In this context, it is worth asking: who is helping whom?” |12|

The European Union: new forms of “lion’s share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. ” partnership

As regards much of Africa, this supposed generosity also involves so-called preferential agreements, such as the agreements between the countries defined as African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) on the one hand and the European Economic Community, later the European Union, on the other. These agreements – of Yaoundé, Cotonou and Lomé - enabled Europe to acquire products at the prices that it determined it and to maintain these economies in the export of unprocessed products, marked by specialization or colonial monoculture Monoculture When one crop alone is cultivated. Many countries of the South have been induced to specialize in the production of a commodity for export (cotton, coffee, cocoa, groundnuts, tobacco, etc.) to procure hard currency for debt repayments. .

It is this situation of preferential dependence that the European Union decided in 2002 to adapt to the neoliberal era, by making it worse, through the establishment of free trade areas called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The African countries concerned (leaving out those of North Africa) were supposed to sign them after five years of “negotiations”, in conformity with the derogation granted by the WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.
. This partnership reserved the lion’s share for the EU, to such an extent that on the eve of the Second Africa-Europe Summit (in Lisbon, December 2007), six weeks away from the first deadline, the liberal economist and president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, considered it impossible to sign: “It is a question of survival for our peoples and our economies, which are already in great difficulty [...] If Europe no longer has anything more than the straightjacket of the EPAs to offer us, we can ask ourselves whether imagination and creativity have not broken down in Brussels.” |13| The resistance of African states and sub-regional blocs lasted until 2014, the final deadline for ratification.

The fact of having maintained Africa for five decades in a situation of strong dependence on the export of primary products had given the EU enough power to set the rules of the game. It was able to impose negotiating with sub-regional integration groups (which are quite dependent on EU financial contributions), whose profile suited it, rather than with the African Union, according to the classic principle of divide and rule; it was also able to create divisions according to the degree of dependence of each “national” economy on exporting to the European market its flowers, bananas, cocoa, cotton, etc. Helped along by EU blackmail and promises, true or false, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the South African Development Community (SADC) - with special arrangements for South Africa – and the East African Community (EAC) had, in 2014, ended up by ratifying an agreement that was “medieval” according to the Network of Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers (ROPPA) of West Africa.

The African countries concerned thus unleashed a process of liberalization, between 75 and 80 per cent, of their markets for goods from the EU, spread over a period, depending on the sub-regions, of between 20 and 25 years; without any system of “financial compensation” |14|. In exchange, these African economies will be free to export 100 per cent of their goods to the European Union.

But, with the exception of the South African economy, this will principally concern what in agriculture cannot be produced in Europe, so it will not be in competition with European production. The competition that African goods will face on the European market is with similar imports from Latin America and Asia – among which those from the colonies/neo-colonies of the EU (overseas countries and territories, ultra-peripheral regions) which make, for example, France a big producer of pineapples, bananas and sugar cane. |15| The competition between dominated economies of the former Third World thus enables the EU to import tropical products at the lowest possible prices.

On the other hand, with the – transient? – exception of certain products defined as sensitive (meat, cereals, pasta, frozen chicken, paint, etc., depending on the sub-regions), whose free entry into Africa would be utterly disastrous for African public finances and for a large part of small local production, EU goods will compete with African goods. This is a real competition between unequals, as part of an alleged partnership “of equals”.

With the exception of goods coming from South Africa - with which the EU has established measures of protection, reciprocal tariff quotas, which are also unequal (105 South African products are protected, as against 251 European products) – African goods of a kind that are already produced in Europe have very little chance of being competitive there. They will not even be competitive in local and sub-regional African markets, given the great weakness of intra-African trade, because nearly 90 per cent of Africa’s trade is with the rest of the world.

Neoliberalism promised, however, to rectify this weakness through a dynamic of regional and continental economic integration. But the “negotiation” of the EPAs has compromised it. This was too serious a matter for the European Union to be dealt with by the African Union: “In Africa-EU relations, the EPAs are notably absent from official EU-AU meetings and structures. The EU denied that the SCAU partnership [Common Africa-EU Strategy] on trade, regional integration and infrastructure should cover the EPAs, whereas these latter agreements have always haunted relations between the two continents.” |16| The EU, which is proud of contributing to African integration, has thus, while funding it, clearly undermined the realization of even just an autonomous bourgeois African Union.

Hence the opposition that exists to EPAs, not only from organizations of peasant agricultural production and “civil society” but also from certain pan-African organizations of capital, such as the African Industrial Association (AIA). The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) found itself fractured between exporters of tropical products and producers competing with goods imported from the EU. In fact, through the EPAs, the EU has actually organized the suffocation of African industrial capital to the benefit of European transnational exporters. According to the AIA, “Given the fragility of African economies, the inappropriateness of free trade can be in little doubt. Many industries in this region are scarcely emerging. The opening that is advocated will condemn Africa irreparably to remain a trading Market activities
Buying and selling of financial instruments such as shares, futures, derivatives, options, and warrants conducted in the hope of making a short-term profit.
post for imports... “ |17|. We can almost hear Marx saying: “Every time that Ireland was on the point of developing on the industrial level, it was crushed and reconverted into a purely agricultural country.” |18|

Over the last few years we have not only seen the growth of African GDP and the multiplication of the number of its millionaires and billionaires, but also, apparently paradoxically, its “deindustrialization” following the structural adjustment programmes. |19|.

This also seems to be the true spirit of the “Brussels Consensus” that the EU offered Africa at the summit in April 2014. One of the tasks that the EU has set itself is to “accompany the private sector in the conquest of markets in Africa”. Valued at “$600 billion in 2013”, these markets are “estimated at $1,000 billion in 2020”. |20| The economic dynamism in Africa is also celebrated today for is supposedly massive production of consumers of goods from the transnationals, - the so-called boom of the African middle class. |21|Constructed for the consolidation of the rule of capital over the peoples of Europe and the acquisition of a greater margin of autonomy with regard to American capital in international competition, the EU is confirming its active role in strengthening the hold of its capital over African societies.

Redeployment of two former colonial powers

In this new scramble for Africa, some countries are pursuing their imperialist tradition ndividually, determined to “take greater advantage of the colonial legacy.” |22| For example, in December 2013 France published a report |23| expressing, more openly than before, the need for an imperialist redeployment. The Védrine Report affirms its determination to re-conquer influence (from economic to cultural) that has been reduced by free trade, American expansionism and the breakthrough of new powers – especially China. Thus France is determined to go beyond what has been done by the French Development Agency (AFD), the coordinating body of French neo-colonialism in Africa. This has not failed to activate the Council of French Investors in Africa (CIFA), and the Africa section of the Movement of Enterprises of France (Medef International). In this perspective, the Francophonie (association of French-speaking countries) summit held in Dakar in December 2014 was followed by the First Economic Forum of Francophonie. Continuity can be established with the Franco-African Forum for Shared Growth, held in Paris in February 2015 and clearly assuming affiliation with the Védrine Report. The Medef was the co-organizer.

For its part, the United Kingdom, much less criticized in Africa than is France, has shown that it is not uninterested. Although most publicity has been given to Chinese economic activism in Africa over the last decade, it turns out that from 2003 to 2012, it was the United Kingdom’s capital that was in the lead concerning mergers and acquisitions ($30.503 billion, 437 transactions), followed closely by France ($30.472 billion, 141 transactions), China occupied third place ($20.781 billion, 49 transactions 49). |24| Christian Aid noted in 2007 that in terms of financial flows between the UK and sub-Saharan Africa, the UK sent, from July 2005 to July 2006, £17 billion to sub-Saharan Africa and received in return £27 billion, of which £17 billion came from capital flight. |25| Who is helping whom?

The Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom currently expends more energy and uses up more paper to spread the gospel that happiness can only be brought by private capital to the poor in underdeveloped capitalist societies in general, African in this case. It is concern for the poor in Africa, rather than considerations of profit Profit The positive gain yielded from a company’s activity. Net profit is profit after tax. Distributable profit is the part of the net profit which can be distributed to the shareholders. , which is supposed to have motivated the establishment by Tony Blair of the Commission for Africa, which produced in 2005 the report Our Common Interest. |26| The common interest in question is that of British public authorities and private capital, and indeed of the new African capitalists. Did not Tony Blair cover up the corrupt practices of the arms dealer BAE System, one of whose victims was Tanzania? |27|

Greater government support to British private capital was subsequently particularly justified in 2011 by DFID in “The engine of development: the private sector and prosperity for poor people”. |28| To the delight of Business Action for Africa (BAA), DFID is active in supporting British transnationals operating in Africa, such as Unilever (where former British ministers are recycled), Diageo (recently taken to court for payment of bribes in Asia), Rio Tinto (already accused of complicity in war crimes and genocide in Papua New Guinea and exposed by farmers and environmental associations in Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia... ), Shell (accused of complicity in the repression of the Ogonis and of falsification of information on oil pollution in Nigeria). It is no surprise that the behaviour of these British transnationals (including Lonmin, responsible for the crime of Marikana) remains marked by a certain neo-colonial spirit:

“None of the British mining companies working in Sierra Leone has complied with the 2009 law on mines, established with international support to ensure that foreign mining companies operate in a responsible fashion (...) The arguments of these companies concerning tax evasion are both obsolete and invalid.” |29| A spokesperson of the Ghana Energy Commission also expressed this quite clearly:” I believe that they think that this is Africa, so they can get away with it.” |30|

In the dynamic of the “new American century”

Having defined the twenty-first century as “the new American century”, US imperialism has obviously included the economic conquest of Africa. President Bush senior had announced it |31| and it became more visible with the adoption under Bill Clinton, in 2000, of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This is a law whose existence cannot be understood without taking into account the creation in 1992-1993, of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) by the principal American transnationals – at present 180 enterprises, representing at least 85 per cent of American private investment in Africa, accompanied by some African enterprises: Dangote Group, Ethiopian Airlines, Heirs Holdings, Telkom SA - with the blessing of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The AGOA is a version of a preferential market, supposed to increase American investment in Africa and allow free access to the US market of goods produced in Africa ... to the exclusion of agricultural products! This makes it a restricted opening because of the importance of agricultural production in Africa’s economic activity. Even though Obama has said that “we have no need of Africa’s energy resources” |32|, as far as imports are concerned, the AGOA remains primarily focused on hydrocarbons (around 90 per cent), followed by textiles and clothing. This law provides for unilateral sanctions against any African “partner” which contravenes so-called “American values”. Even the licensed ideologues of free trade have not hesitated to characterize it as “an American Trojan horse in Africa”. |33|

Faithfully following the Clinton administration on this question, the administration of George W. Bush reinforced the system with the creation of the Millennium Challenge Account, another instrument of “aid” to Third World countries. Access to this “generosity” is conditioned by the adoption of the guidelines of the US administration. |34|. The liaison between this public instrument and private American capital is mainly provided by USAID. The Obama era is continuing this tradition.

As regards mergers and acquisitions, according to the firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the United States only occupied fifth place (with $12.08 billion and 209 transactions in mergers and acquisitions, North Africa included) during the decade 2003-2012, even coming after an emerging economic power, India , in fourth place with $15.11 billion and 133 transactions. The leadership in commercial partnership with Africa, previously held by the United States, was snatched in 2009 by China. The fact remains that in terms of stocks of foreign direct investment (FDI), the United States retains leadership, with $61.4 billion in 2012 against $27.7 billion for China. The United Kingdom and France, each have more than twice the Chinese stock of FDI (respectively $57.9 and $58.9 billion).

With such a stock of FDI, American transnationals are characterized, like their French and British peers, by having a certain influence on the national policies of African countries, especially in the former British colonies, helped by the fact that they speak English. We know the classic case of Firestone in Liberia |35| which has since 1929 overexploited the local workforce, local land (rubber plantations) and subordinated the Liberian government, which is in a position of quasi-protectorate. |36|. Let us recall the case of Chevron, whose maritime and air navigation equipment was placed in the 1990s at the disposal of the Nigerian Army for its murderous expeditions against the Ijaw and Ogoni peoples who were demanding social justice in the Niger oil delta.

Although the image of Coca-Cola (considered to be the largest private employer in Africa, with about 70,000 employees spread over 160 factories), is not as tainted in Africa as it is in Colombia and India, this American transnational is a strong supporter of the autocrat of Swaziland, King Mswati III. It is in this absolute monarchy that it has established African production of the concentrate of its eponymous drink “because of the favourable tax arrangements that the regime guarantees Guarantees Acts that provide a creditor with security in complement to the debtor’s commitment. A distinction is made between real guarantees (lien, pledge, mortgage, prior charge) and personal guarantees (surety, aval, letter of intent, independent guarantee). and the abundance of cheap labour and raw sugar (...). However, the real problem is that Coca-Cola is probably in Swaziland because it is a dictatorship that oppresses the unions and the population, which makes it possible to keep wages low.” |37| People talk about the “Cocacolonisation of Swaziland” because according to some estimates Coca-Cola contributes up to 40 per cent of its GDP. This explains why, until very recently, Swazi activists for human rights and freedoms were almost completely ignored by the US administration.

To assert its global leadership |38|, the US government in its turn initiated in August 2014 a summit with African states, devoted to economic partnership with Africa, beyond the AGOA. Investment of $33 billion in the near future was announced to the African leaders who had been invited to Washington. Stephen Hayes, CEO of CCA, who had complained of insufficient US dynamism in supporting American private investment in Africa |39|, was delighted. This speaks volumes about the need for transnationals which are still identified with the Stars and Stripes to have a state at their service, as on the occasion of an official ceremony in Equatorial Guinea where “American flags [...] were worn by a delegation of Mobil Equatorial Guinea, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil [...] Then came the delegations with placards announcing Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, Marathon Oil.” |40|

A “green revolution” by “philanthrocapitalism”

This culture of influence over the destiny of African states and societies, which is inherent to the expansion of transnational firms, is quite clear on the vital issue of agriculture, where the global leadership of American firms is undeniable. Together with USAID, in 2006, the “philanthropic” foundations created the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). |41| Paved with good intentions – as was the Green Revolution initiated by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations in the 1950s in Latin America and especially in Asia, with the painful results that we know – this new version is the neoliberal Trojan horse of biotech agribusiness (Monsanto, Pioneer, Dupont, etc.). |42|

What is taking place is an operation to impose genetically modified seeds. The philanthropy of the Gates Foundation - which has spent “$120 million for the development of crops in Africa, including specific subsidies for the development of GM crops” |43| – is only apparent, because it is a shareholder in Monsanto. Guided by profitability |44| this “philanthrocapitalist” foundation lobbied African parliaments to get them to enact laws favourable to the cultivation of genetically modified seeds |45|, to which the legislation of the vast majority of African countries still represents an obstacle.

Among the latest offensives of the seed lobby Lobby
A lobby is an entity organized to represent and defend the interests of a specific group by exerting pressure or influence on persons or institutions that hold power. Lobbying consists in conducting actions aimed at influencing, directly or indirectly, the drafting, application or interpretation of legislative measures, standards, regulations and more generally any intervention or decision by the Public Authorities.
in Africa is the one conducted in Ghana. Subject to financial difficulties for at least two years, the Ghanaian government was about to give in to pressure for the adoption of the Plant Breeders’ Bill. This law, favourable to the use of genetically modified seeds at the expense of traditional sowing practices, has for the moment been countered by mobilizations against it, including an international information campaign. The financial pressure appears quite clearly in an article that reports the crude blackmail of the American Embassy and USAID on the Ghanaian finance minister concerning a five-year assistance programme |46|. The Ghanaian government is in a dilemma: give in to the financial blackmail of the United States by adopting the law (public debt is still rising in 2015) or listen to food sovereignty activists who are also opinion leaders. Following on Obama’s visit, Kenya has announced the lifting of its ban on GMOs.

National parliaments are called upon to legislate in favour of the interests of transnationals against food sovereignty and justice. This is called “knowing how to attract investors.” The spectre of a fairly effective campaign in Europe and the United States against the consumption of products containing GMOs (which has, for example, already convinced the fast-food chain Chipotle in the US) increases the interest of agribusiness for Africa, where the expansion of large retail chains selling food products is underway.

As a contribution to the realization of this “progress” of African agriculture, the AfDB placed itself in the front rank of the promoters of the “green revolution” by calling for the use of genetically modified seeds “to improve African agricultural productivity”. In this it joined with the first president – now honorary president – of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Kofi Annan, who owed his position as Secretary General of the United Nations to his servility to American interests. Those who bleed the peoples dry always find African lackeys |47|. It is no surprise that the AfDB, this so-called pan-African financial institution, has chosen to take into account neither the opinions of small farmers’ organizations nor the studies published in recent years which argue that African peasant agriculture does not need these genetically modified seeds to achieve food self-sufficiency |48|. It is no longer just a question of the subtle imposition of foods that are exotic from the point of view of African societies, as a certain kind of food aid has done traditionally, but of control over the production of staple foods of the local diet.

We cannot insult the technocrats of the AfDB by believing that they are ignorant of the fact that this “green revolution” cannot be realized without taking over land and even sources of water. One of the most recent cases of dispossession is the expulsion by the authorities of the state of Taraba (in Nigeria) the local small peasantry in order to enable the American company Dominion Farms to enjoy 30,000 hectares for rice cultivation. Dominion Farms had already become celebrated in Kenya for a similar kind of misdeed. These peasants (adults and school-age children) will be forced to become super-exploited agricultural workers or to swell the population of the shanty-towns. In this case, their pauperization will serves the NGO programmes aimed at combating “extreme poverty” and the jobs they provide for missionaries of humanitarian subordination of the local population, created in the United States and Africa, co-financed or supported by USAID. Given the “sensitive” character of Taraba, it is not excluded that the criminal group Boko Haram will make recruits there, if it survives the present sub-regional offensive. Beyond Nigeria, the “green revolution” will increase the number of deaths among migrants in the Sahara or in the Mediterranean.

Emergence of new powers and Africa

The big novelty in this new scramble for Africa is the activism of emerging economic powers, especially China (which is rather “emerged”), which is proving to be a catalyst for the present dynamism of the traditional imperialist powers. These emerged and emerging capitalist powers have the particularity of being located in Asia and Latin America and even in Africa (South Africa). In other words in the former “Third World” or “South”. As they rise they are no exception to what is virtually the rule of exploiting Africa.

Without possessing the same dynamism as Chinese capital, Indian capital (oil, mining, industrial and agricultural investments, mobile telephones, manufactured food products, social services etc.) is also expanding in Africa, based on a long history of post -colonial relationships (non-alignment) and the existence of a large African population of Indian descent in East and Southern Africa (from Mauritius to Kenya, and including South Africa). But its largest trading partner – 25 per cent — is Nigeria.

Just as Brazilian capital (oil and gas sector, construction, agribusiness, export of machinery, food products, etc.) is favoured by the fact that part of its population is of African descent (though it suffers considerable discrimination) |49| and by the language it shares with former Portuguese colonies in Africa (Angola is the main destination for Brazilian firms in Africa).

We should also take note, although they are less talked about than the others, of the investments (oil, forestry, agribusiness) from Malaysia – which was in 2012 the leading source of FDI in Africa coming from the South. The common Muslim religious identity with a large part of Africa is not unconnected with the development of capital from the Gulf oil monarchies (financial sector, oil, agribusiness, etc.). Because of its Euro-Asian character and its history as the former metropolis of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey also seems determined to increase its economic presence in Africa, below the northern sub-region. That makes quite a lot of people for the African “cake”.

One effect of this activism of emerging economic powers is the great attention paid to Africa today by the academic-media complex of traditional central capitalism, in the name of a supposed concern for the protection of its natural resources from predators and other such fairy stories that could compromise its march (already fifty years old but still “plodding along”) towards development. These enunciations of predatory behaviour or fraud on the part of new economic powers are reminiscent of one of the justifications for the colonization of East African societies at the end of the nineteenth century: the need to protect them from the slave trade that was at that time operated by Arab and Swahili (products of a very ancient Arab-Bantu miscegenation) traders. In the same way, in this twenty-first century, African economies need protection from these new pretenders to the rank of capitalist power, principally from China, occupying and accepting the leading position in this tri-continental “flight of wild geese”. |50|

It goes without saying that this new capitalist wave has not failed to disturb the logic of the Washington Consensus, which may be opposed by a sort of Beijing Consensus. According to the Sinologist Arif Dirlik, “the term derives its meaning and its charm not from a coherent economic or political position, but because it suggests a pole in the global political economy that can serve to bring together those who are opposed to the imperialism of Washington”. |51| As for the chief economist of the AfDB, he defines it as “an approach in which the development of the private sector and economic growth play a central role and in which investors do not interfere in the internal governance of countries in Africa”. |52| China does not exploit issues of “human rights” or “democracy”. The development of Chinese capitalism is described by what an official cultural approach has called “conformity with Asian values”, characterized, among other things, by the conception that (so-called Western) democracy is not a sine qua non of capitalist performance.

This result of supposed Asian pragmatism causes great concern among the traditionally dominant powers in Africa because the African “elite” often now turns towards China. This fear is quite clearly expressed by France, complaining about the decline in its market share in Africa, which has gone from 10 per cent to about 5 per cent in a decade |53|, as well as by President Obama and former US Secretary of State and possible future president, Hillary Clinton, who constantly warn Africa against the harmfulness of the investments of the emerging powers.

Chinese investments are targeted and even characterized as neocolonialism, as imperialism. This accusation was relayed in Africa by, for example, one of the advocates of an African capitalist road, who was then director of the Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

of Nigeria, and who is at present Emir of Kano State (part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) and chairman of the Board of the Nigerian subsidiary (Black Rhino) of the US investment fund Investment fund
Investment funds
Private equity investment funds (sometimes called ’mutual funds’ seek to invest in companies according to certain criteria; of which they most often are specialized: capital-risk, capital development funds, leveraged buy-out (LBO), which reflect the different levels of the company’s maturity.
Blackstone, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi: “China takes our raw materials and provides us with manufactured goods. This was also the essence of colonialism [...] Africa has willingly opened up now to a new form of imperialism.” |54| The reiteration of this accusation has now provoked responses from Chinese officials. Following on China’s Foreign Minister, who stated that “the United States must be objective and rational about Chinese investment in Africa” |55|, Prime Minister Li Keqiang offered reassurance before his African tour in 2014: “I would say to my African friends, with all my sincerity, that China has no intention of acting in an imperialist way, as some countries have done before. Colonialism must belong to the past.”

Chinese imperialism in Africa?

In order to scale the heights of the global economy |56|, China has had to obtain its energy and mineral resources from abroad. Without trying to be originaI, it has also turned to Africa |57|. Its imports of raw materials are accompanied by loans on easy terms (which enable some countries, such as Angola, to loosen or circumvent the hold of the IMF and the World Bank), and by exports of goods (more adapted to the purchasing power of the poor in Africa), of expertise (in terms of construction, for example), of public infrastructure (hospitals, schools etc.) of which there was a great lack during the decades of “cooperation” and “aid to development” from the traditional capitalist powers, and investments in the industrial, financial, agricultural, etc., sectors. Despite a few passing disputes of some Chinese capital with for example, the governments of Chad and Zambia, the People’s Republic of China has managed to make Taiwan lose almost all its African allies, with the exception of Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe and Swaziland, whereas Taiwan could still count on a dozen countries in the 1990s. China conditions its cooperation on respect for the principle of one China...

African countries seem to draw a certain benefit from the “South-South” wrapping of cooperation with China, from its (relative) good financial health, the dynamism of its public and private companies, etc. The supposed solidarity towards fraternal countries of the South favours greater autonomy of neocolonial African states with regard to the traditional powers. They are faced with a dynamic that they cannot control and with a dilemma: to maintain the traditional type of relationships would be tantamount to encouraging the African preference for the new powers, but to contribute in competition with China, or indeed in collaboration with it |58|, to the capitalist development of Africa runs the risk of finding themselves confronted by some emerging African economies that will cause further overproduction on the world market. Following the example of China’s emergence and expansion into the traditional centre of capital |59|, which gave rise to the idea of “imperialism in reverse”. |60|

China’s “solidarity” is not provided at the expense of the accumulation of its power or its participation in a good position in the hierarchy of world capitalism. Competition in Africa between China |61| and the transnationals that are rooted in the traditional powers is also accompanied by Chinese participation in the multilateral hierarchical structures set up by traditional imperialism, such as the international financial institutions and their regional relay, the AfDB. China has not really changed the rules of these institutions |62|, which it wants to use as much as possible (of about $150 billion of Chinese investments in Africa between 2006 and 2014, nearly 10 per cent were in the financial sector). It participates in the form of both public and private capital, |63| in the consolidation of capitalism in Africa. Its demand for raw materials increases the dependence of African states on extractive industries and undermines the conservation underground of oil resources that is demanded by the fight against climate change.

China’s participation in the industrialization of Africa – absent from the agenda of the traditional powers since the era of colonial imperialism – principally concerns the creation of free zones (“special economic zones” or “zones of economic and trade cooperation”), as is the case in Egypt, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria and Zambia. In other words, a classic case of delocalization, essentially motivated by the rate of profit: for example, Ethiopian labour is cheaper or more productive of surplus value than Chinese labour, which has become more and more demanding. The Chinese state has chosen to set the Chinese and Ethiopian proletariats in competition with each other, to the detriment of the former. Note that one of the “murderers of ready-to-wear” |64|, the Swedish company Hennes and Mauritz (H & M) has also shown interest in the low price of the labour force in Ethiopia’s workshops |65|. So other free zones are projected. Moreover, it would also be surprising if the particular contribution of China to the industrialization of Africa were any cleaner than it is in China, considering that ecology is also one of the last things on African leaders’ minds.

Some of the transport infrastructure built by China can be explained by these delocalizations. For example, the electric railway from Djibouti to Ethiopia accompanied the recent loss of control over the port of Djibouti by Dubai Ports World, to the benefit of the Chinese Merchant Group International (No. 1 in this sector in China).

Chinese capital is also prominently involved in the fight against the small African agricultural peasantry – the seizure of community-owned agricultural land and its conversion into “vacant land” by national authorities. Fewer independent small peasants, a few more proletarians and lumpen-proletarians who can be joined by those who have suffered the destruction of their activities by the competition deployed against the small local production of other economic sectors by cheap products “Made in China”.

The South-South neoliberal superprofits realized by Chinese firms are repatriated, partially opaquely, to be re-injected into the circuits of reproduction. Some of the practices of Chinese private capital, especially in southern Africa, are no different from the French-African trafficking, |66| thus coming to resemble a “Chinafrica”.

The African partner states, despite a few skirmishes (Chad, Zambia ...), are not willing to cross this power. Quite to the contrary, the financial strength of the yuan even pushes some countries (South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, etc.) to use it already as an international currency alongside the dollar, euro, etc. An acquisition of Chinese power in Africa that some people consider soft, preferring not to look at reality...

Admittedly it is no longer the former “transformation of Africa into a kind of commercial warren for hunting black people” that contributed to the “genesis of industrial capital” (Marx), nor the military conquest, followed by the administration and exploitation of the territories, that was characteristic of the colonial imperialism of the late nineteenth century. This is a new form, adapted to the neoliberal era, with the memory of this common past as differentiator in inter-capitalist competition. Generally speaking, the fact of belonging to societies having been victims of Western colonialism or neo-colonialism does not prevent the capital of emerging powers from imitating the practices of transnationals whose roots are in the imperialist West. This is demonstrated by the Brazilian |67|, Indian |68| , Indonesian, etc., agrarian and mining capital that is involved in the dispossession of rural populations from their land and the super-exploitation of the labour force, with the complicity of African states seeking foreign direct investment, which is supposed to help them embark on the path of emergence.

In fact, the framework of South-South relations remains hierarchical: the investments of the emerging powers of Asia and Latin America in Africa are nowhere near those made in the opposite direction, despite the growth of the latter. In China, “African direct investment [...] was thus established at $14.24 billion at the end of 2012, up 44 per cent compared to 2009” |69|, while in India it is a case of “$170 million accumulated between 2000 and 2010 “ |70| This is especially due to South African capital, with at the end of 2013, 36 companies in China against 72 Chinese companies in South Africa, and 54 in India against 115 Indian companies in South Africa. Nevertheless, without the South African economy being comparable to the Russian or even Brazilian ones, there are 25 South African companies in Brazil and 12 in Russia, as against respectively 4 Brazilian and 12 Russian companies in South Africa. |71|

Pan-Africanism… hierarchical like capitalism

The sub-imperialist, sub-regional culture, (from Lesotho to Angola at war), of South African capital at the time of constitutional apartheid did not disappear with the end of this regime. It has adapted to the new post-apartheid situation – of which it is, moreover, one of the factors. For example, the South African mobile telephone transnational MTN is accused, like Coca-Cola, of supporting the Swazi regime, in exchange for reduced exposure to competition – the Swazi autocrat, Mswati III, is a shareholder (with 10 per cent) of the local subsidiary. The South African post-apartheid state serves the expansion of “national” capital in Africa better than its predecessors did. Pan-Africanism is thus, for the South African ruling class, a regional version of hierarchical South-South relations, the aim being to get a better place in hierarchical world capitalism. The NEPAD was for Thabo Mbeki (Vice-President under Mandela, then President) the economic instrument of this African Renaissance under South African economic hegemony. All the more so because thanks to Black Economic Empowerment (supported by big white South African capitalists) we have seen the emergence of big black capitalists who can serve as ambassadors of South African capital, which is also accused of “systematic internal looting of Africa” |72|.

Angolan capital - with its double-digit growth of GDP (mainly based on extractive industries) for almost two decades - has also tried to expand, beyond the enclave of Cabinda, with what was considered to be the beginning of the vassalisation of Guinea-Bissau: the establishment of a joint venture for the exploitation of bauxite, between Bauxite Angola (linked to the state) and the Guinea-Bissau state, with a distribution of shares of respectively 90 per cent and 10 per cent. This unequal partnership was accompanied by the project of construction by Angola of port infrastructure in Buba (Guinea-Bissau). In the background of this deal there was the presence of the Angolan military in the framework of a mission of the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries (CPLP) and the Peace Council of the African Union. Angola, based on oil and mining (diamonds, bauxite, etc.), regards itself as the leader of the CPLP in Africa and does not hide its claims to leadership in sub-Saharan Africa, alongside South Africa and Nigeria, or even in competition with them. Moreover, its public and private capital are already in Portugal, the former colonial power, in a position of being key shareholders in strategic companies (banks, telecoms, etc.), with acquisitions in real estate, the press etc. This metropolitan expansion is already generating comments about “imperialism in reverse”: “The influx of Angolan capital has triggered ‘the most important transformation of the strategic sectors of the Portuguese economy since the wave of privatizations of the 1990s’ estimates Jorge Costa, a leader of the anti-liberal Left Bloc party and co-author of a book entitled ‘Portugal’s Angolan Masters’“ |73|. But although Angolan capital is the first of a former African colony to impose itself now on its former metropolis, “the whole of the positions of the former colony in Portuguese equity Equity The capital put into an enterprise by the shareholders. Not to be confused with ’hard capital’ or ’unsecured debt’. amounts to 2.8 billion euros, 3.8 per cent of the share market in Lisbon |74| in 2013. Is this enough to talk about an “imperialism in reverse”, symbolized by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the Angolan president and leader of the African billionaires?

In recent years, Forbes, Venture Africa, and other such publications have published the list of African billionaires, a list which is taken up, not without a certain pride, in many of the online pan-African newspapers: “The second edition of the ranking of the richest Africans which is published by Venture Africa showed that Africa has in 2014, 55 billionaires (in dollars), whose global fortune has increased by 12.4 per cent between 2013 and 2014, going from $143.2 billion to $161.75 billion.” |75| In fact, from 2009 to 2015 forty multimillionaires became rich enough to join the eight African billionaires of 2009 (the thieving politicians, who are more than ever the rule in neoliberal Africa, are not counted).

This African bourgeoisie of new multimillionaires and billionaires is making significant investments on the national and regional (from Cairo to Mauritius) levels, and even outside Africa: “Between 2007 and 2012, during the worst recession of the global economy in Europe, African investments [there] grew sevenfold, reaching 77 billion euros “ |76|. The principle of its development was inscribed in the software of the Washington Consensus: in the cult of private capital over which the Bretton Woods institutions officiate, the participation of domestic private capital is also praised. From South-South relationships, just as from North-South relations, it expects only a position considered as deserved in the race for capitalist accumulation, not wishing, for example, the EPAs to stifle it.

New rich and more poor

This rise in economic power of some southern economies, perturbing the traditional North-South hierarchy, is no exception to a certain third-worldist tradition: the discourse about building solidarity or South-South trade - against unequal North-South relations – is often accompanied by hiding from view the inequalities and social injustices internal to each country, the antagonisms between social classes, which are often dealt with in the most repressive fashion. Because we can speak of African leadership in the realm of social inequality: “Concerning wealth, the most glaring inequalities are present in sub-Saharan Africa (37 per cent) and South Asia (25 per cent). [...] Income inequality has diminished in Latin America and the Caribbean but seems to have increased in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.” |77| These inequalities result from the looting of national resources, from favours received through acquaintance with the political authorities - obvious enough concerning someone like Isabel Dos Santos and the multimillionaires or billionaires of Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa – which are at present part of the group of the most unequal societies in the world.

According to US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks, the businesses of the leader of the African billionaires, the Nigerian Aliko Dangote, also flourish thanks to these acquaintanceships among the political leaders. According to the Consul General at the time, Brian Browne: “For his supporters, he symbolizes that Nigerians can do better than barter and trade. For his detractors, he is a predator who uses connections in the corrupt milieu of economic policy to tip the balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. in his favour and remove potential competition. The truth lies somewhere between these two caricatures. Dangote is part of the inner circle of business advisors of President Obasanjo. It is no coincidence that many products prohibited from being imported into Nigeria are among those in which Dangote has major interests.” |78| There is nothing really new compared to the American robber barons of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Dangote also illustrates the cynicism of African capitalists, including in their continental expansion: “Since we arrived in this company in December 2014, we receive our salaries more than 20 days after the end of the month and we are constantly in fear of not receiving our monthly salaries. After five months of working in the factory, we have still not received our contracts, despite several approaches to the work inspection. Therefore, we do not have any of our social rights, regulated by Senegalese law”, workers of his cement works at Pout in Senegal recently complained |79|. Respect for workers’ rights, even reduced to almost nothing, is not a feature of neoliberal capitalism. Furthermore, the environmental problems, particularly related to water, posed by this cement works are not viewed in any other way than that of an online newspaper of the young African intelligentsia (Terangaweb, “L’Afrique des idées”), which considers Dangote with some admiration as the “archetype of the new titans of African capitalism”. |80|

Dangote, like his fellow-capitalists, African and non-African, benefits from labour markets that have been seriously deregulated by structural adjustment programmes. This contributes to the “leadership” of so-called sub-Saharan Africa concerning jobs that can be described as vulnerable or not decent, with survival wages |81| and workers who are poor. They also benefit from the virtual absence of environmental protection.
Old and new military presences

The imperialist domination of African societies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was not initially manifested by an influx of capital but by the exercise of force, by military conquest. Today also, this military dimension distinguishes the emergence of new capitalist powers from traditional imperialist practices.

Among the traditional imperialist powers, it is France that has maintained a permanent military presence in the former colonies, after the massive decolonization of the early 1960s. |82| This military presence has accompanied the preservation of its hegemony in its former sub-Saharan colonies. |83| It was even capable of promoting the expansion of its sphere of influence beyond its former colonial empire, by its interference in the Biafra war in Nigeria |84| to break up this big state, which economically dominated his own country in West Africa. A few years earlier, it was the neocolonial regime in Brazzaville which had played the role of zealous imperialist relay in the secession of Katanga, against the regime of Lumumba. It was necessary to split up the very rich Congo-Leopoldville, which was moreover too imposing from a geographical point of view in a central Africa made up of former French colonies. Those who talk about Africafrance seem to forget that De Gaulle took into account the pressure from Houphouët-Boigny, the African godfather of Françafrique (supported by Foccart and Co, who were the interface between the two motivations).]]. France had found it useful to restructure in the post-Cold War context of the neoliberalisation of capitalism by reducing the number of bases and troops stationed in Africa. A certain emphasis was put on training dependent African armies. This could also be shared by the European Union building its intervention force (EUFOR), which was moreover to be found under French leadership in DR Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic (long before Sangaris). In recognition of its African tradition, the French army was also associated with some of the exercises that the US army organized from the 1990s with African armies, a sign of its post-Cold War interest in Africa (even though the expression of this interest had been attenuated by the spectacular failure of the intervention in Somalia — Provide Relief, then Restore Hope, 1992-1994).

The military superpower, present in Diego Garcia, one of its main bases outside the United States, already enjoyed the possibility of using some military facilities, such as the air base of Thebephatshwa (Botswana), built with American aid at the moment of the metamorphosis of the big South African ally (the end of apartheid was supposed to lead to the power of “the communists of the ANC”). Today, the US army, equipped in 2007 with a US Army Command for Africa (AFRICOM), has become the principal foreign army present in Africa: in addition to Diego Garcia, it has, since 2002, a base in Djibouti, at the Lemonnier (formerly French) camp for the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA, integrated into AFRICOM) and a discreet (often secret) presence in some forty African countries |85|. This ubiquity serves as compensation for the failed attempt to install in Africa the headquarters of AFRICOM – installed by default in Stuttgart, with extensions in Spain, Italy and Portugal – whose official justification, the “war against terrorism”, barely conceals economic interests and objectives, concerning oil in particular.

With its coarse arrogance, the United States took advantage of the fight against Ebola in West Africa to promote AFRICOM by sending three thousand soldiers to Liberia. This operation of “winning hearts and minds” by military humanism, from which the United States seemed to expect President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson (whose readiness to host the headquarters of AFRICOM, in 2007, was thwarted by the AU) to take the opportunity to obtain an extension of the US military presence – as did Michel Martelly after the earthquake in Haiti.

The military pivot to Asia will in no way affect AFRICOM, whose creation also influenced the impossibility of implementing the old project of creating a pan-African army, relaunched in 1994 and incorporated as African Standby Force, into the programme of the African Union. Because while proclaiming its opposition to the installation of new foreign military bases in Africa, the African Union counted on the financial support of the United States and the European Union for the organization of this army, which was supposed to enable to Africa resolve itself its security problems. The interventions of extra-African armies, making Africa a terrain of experimentation and publicity of their new instruments of death, as well as a market for mercenary firms, would lose all purpose. The failure of this pan-African military project partly explains the amateurish conduct of African armies in Somalia, and the French military intervention in Mali (did the Serval operation help to sell, finally, the Rafale?) and in the Central African Republic. Imperialist interventions were dressed up as humanism, thanks to a gross manipulation of the United Nations Security Council, while the situation in Mali |86| results not only from the persistence of neocolonialism in that country, but also from the chaotic situation created in Libya by the NATO NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO ensures US military protection for the Europeans in case of aggression, but above all it gives the USA supremacy over the Western Bloc. Western European countries agreed to place their armed forces within a defence system under US command, and thus recognize the preponderance of the USA. NATO was founded in 1949 in Washington, but became less prominent after the end of the Cold War. In 2002, it had 19 members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, the USA, to which were added Greece and Turkey in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955 (replaced by Unified Germany in 1990), Spain in 1982, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999.
intervention, which blocked the mediation of the African Union.

Taking advantage of some positive appreciations of its military interventionism (final assault on the palace of Laurent Gbagbo in order to install Alassane Ouattara, Serval, Sangaris), France took the opportunity to proceed to a new restructuring of its military presence. It will in future be more present, mixing cooperation and competition with the United States, whose deployment is accompanied by recognition of French expertise in the region. The coexistence of a French base and a US base in Djibouti symbolizes this.

The strategic site of Djibouti has become emblematic of the new military interest of the economic powers for Africa. The protection of the Gulf of Aden, frequented by tankers, is transforming Djibouti into a military hub in defiance of the principle of the African Union on the non-permanent stationing of foreign armies. To the American and French armies have been added Japanese (in 2011) and Italian bases (by the 2012 Agreement). China has just obtained the installation of a military base, while Russia and Canada |87| are also negotiating to install bases and Spanish and German troops are also present, without having permanent bases.

The Japanese army [Japanese fishing vessels gleefully plundered the fish in Somali territorial waters before the current wave of piracy, which is the result, among other things, of the plunder and pollution of Somali waters.] has 600 soldiers in its base in Djibouti and spends $30 million in rent. It is an army that is undergoing profound changes, characterized principally by the return to a “normal” army of an economic power. |88| The present Prime Minister Shinzo Abe does not hide his nostalgia for Japanese militarism, while maintaining Japanese subordination to American leadership.

China has begun to break with a certain restraint. The Chinese military wants to be present in Africa independently of UN missions (DR Congo, South Sudan) or in a different way from the support, little covered by the media, to the coalition to “fight against terrorism” in Mali. Thus it has obtained the installation in the near future of a military base in Djibouti. A presence that is probably felt to be justified, over and above African issues, as a response to tensions in the South China Sea: “Beijing is forging its future ability to impede surgically and strategically military containment by the United States”. |89| There is also a question of a military base in the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia. This is making the military component of China-Africa cooperation increasingly important. Chinese arms sales are not subject to the duplicity of the other champions, which are skilled in imposing embargoes. Even Gabon, the fief of the French army, conducts military exercises with China. In military matters, even more than in economic ones, Chinese leadership in these South-South relations is obvious. But for now, unlike what is happening in the South China Sea between China and the United States, there are not (yet?) in Africa military tensions between the traditional powers and those that are called emerging ones.

There is one exception: the South African army found itself in a situation of competition with the French army in the Central African Republic of François Bozizé. |90| By virtue of a military partnership, the South African army had been sent to support this tottering regime, which had lost the support of France. It was also there to secure the interests of South African capital. South African soldiers were killed by the Central African rebellion, which eventually toppled the regime of Bozizé. The French army has regained its dominant position with Operation Sangaris.

Ideology (even more) dominant

The present dynamism of extra-African capital in Africa is not accompanied only by military activism on the part of traditional and emerging powers. There is the ideological or cultural dimension, a factor of consent, a mainstay of Gramscian hegemony. There too neoliberalism has changed the rules of domination.

In colonial times and during the first two postcolonial decades, Africa did not escape the global intellectual ferment, characterized by a dynamic reflexive critique of imperialism and capitalism, sometimes articulated with political practice. Although African intellectuals of the neo-colonial camp, including those who were “apolitical”, were the most numerous, one could speak of pluralism expressed locally (when the regimes tolerated it) or in exile.

That has no longer been quite the case since the late 1980s, with the backlash that had begun during the previous decade, which promoted the integration of many anti-imperialists and anti-capitalists into power structures, at a national level or in international organizations. Working in these institutions ultimately led to their transformation into careerists. The failure of the so-called communist bloc, which had become indisputable, just at the time when neoliberal structural adjustment was being increased in Africa, worsened the situation by increasing the deficit in the plurality of socio-political ideals.

The wind of “democratization” consolidated the hegemony of capitalist values in Africa. The challenge to structural adjustment was stifled in the sovereign national conferences and other procedures for political reforms. The objective was to set the market economy in stone. It was the World Bank which organized the fight against extreme poverty — produced by the programmes it imposed along with the IMF — with the help of UN agencies, development NGOs, charities, etc. |91|. Neoliberal globalization was supposed to make happy the poverty-stricken people it produced: from extreme poverty, they would move on to poverty, not by the development of a “social state” or “welfare state”, of which some African societies had experienced an underdeveloped version for about two decades, but by the development of the private sector.

It is also the philanthropic foundations (“philanthrocapitalism”) that are expected to save the world by solving the great social problems of humanity. This supposed generosity, fiscally beneficial to the donors, is part of the spread of the one-way thought of the Washington Consensus. The richest people in the world, Bill and Melinda Gates (of the Gates Foundation), are shown flying to the rescue of Africans suffering from AIDS, subordinating the World Health Organization (WHO) to their interests |92|. African children go to school thanks to some stars of show business, with whom Africans of the Africa Progress Panel pose for a photo, looking honoured. Such are the realities of the subordination of the public to the private, while public money is stolen by the rulers. By supporting, together with the chancelleries of central capitalism, certain organizations or movements of defence of human rights and freedoms, this philanthrocapitalism effortlessly imposes limits on the perspectives of emancipation as well as on criticism of local situations and of the countries where the sponsoring foundations are based.

The African employees of the George Soros’s Open Society must not go any further than his superficial critique of capitalism |93| and it goes without saying that participation in land grabbing and exploitation of workers is not considered to be violence against human beings. A leader of the Senegalese movement “We’ve had enough” [“Y’en a marre”] (which played a major role in the mobilization against the attempt of Abdoulaye Wade to have a third term of office and for “democratic change”) has justified collaboration with George Soros |94|, after having supported the presidential campaign of the liberal billionaire Macky Sall, and sung the praises of Obama (“a likeable and attentive president, who showed himself to be very pragmatic” |95|: “‘We’ve had enough‘ depends neither on Marxism nor capitalism nor communism; we are not dependent on anyone and we want to create a philosophy of citizens’ action that is based on African values and on our socio-cultural realities. So people who do not grasp that find it disturbing, but they are free to think what they want.” |96| This kind of ideological mishmash is in the air of our times. The situation is no different on the part of the leaders of the “Citizens’ Broom” [Balai citoyen] (one of the main collective players in driving out Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso) and other similar movements elsewhere in Africa. Some critics of African states regard them as “the new ‘sharpshooters’ of imperialism in Africa” as “niggers in the service of the empire” |97|

The superficial conception of democracy that prevails in these African movements also reflects the control over African graduates by imperialism in the form of academic scholarships and teaching posts. The United States attracts more African graduates through, for example, the Partnership for African Universities, launched in Dakar in 2000 and principally under the responsibility of the Carnegie, Ford, MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundations. A decade later, African intellectuals are asking for more “partnerships” of African universities with the American foundations |98| that are major actors of the new organization of higher education, hostile to the acquisition of critical thinking, which had carved out a small place for itself in some universities. Agronomic research laboratories are increasingly subordinated to being financed by agribusiness. Reflections on society are increasingly appreciated according to the paradigms promoted by a few think tanks and dominating the journals which have become most influential. An African economist who makes no claim to be revolutionary complained a few years ago: “We are in situations characterized by the absence of discussion of macroeconomic paradigms and by improvisation faced with social challenges. African university teachers, at least in French-speaking Africa, which is what I know about, absolutely do not discuss paradigms. There is not, at the present time, any debate on economics [...] Those who are at the head of institutions do not engage in profound theoretical reflection and those in universities have no grasp of reality. [...] Dissent comes at a price, and that is why orthodoxy is so little challenged. We are in a logic where people have to make a living and are just sucked into the system.” |99|. In this respect, the emerging powers content themselves with rivalry in the provision of scholarships, led by China, but without being prepared to match the former colonial powers.

Among the means of the influence of imperialism and neocolonialism during his time, Kwame Nkrumah included Hollywood, a symbol of the “cultural industries” which propagate the “American way of life”. He wrote: “Even the Hollywood scenarios are weapons. You only have to listen to the applause of African spectators when Hollywood heroes massacre Indians or Asians to realize the power of such means.” This power of the imperialist cultural industries has increased exponentially, including in the form of local adaptations: the Chinese TV channel CCTV installed in Nairobi |100|, the soap operas, the films from Bollywood and Nollywood...

However, for Nkrumah, one of the “most insidious methods used by neocolonialism is perhaps evangelism. Following on the liberation movement, we have seen a veritable tidal wave of religious sects, a big majority of them American”. |101| This process intensified from the 1980s and 1990s onward, as a “spiritual aroma” of the social consequences of the debt crisis and the “remedies” of the Bretton Woods institutions. The expansion of revivalist and Pentecostal churches is quite obviously accompanied by the central role accorded to the money spent from the colossal fortunes of pastors, who are disciples of God and Mammon at the same time.

Faced with this ascendancy of capitalist imperialism, now reinforced by the emerging capitalist powers, accomplices and competitors of the traditional imperialism, as well as by the growth of African capitalism, the African peoples, exploited and oppressed, are not, in spite of everything, resigned to subjugation. As evidenced by the struggles that are conducted here and there, in that part of the world: against exploitation of human beings and ecocide by oil and mining transnationals |102|; against the expropriation of common land and the imposition of enslaving seeds; against the injustices and inequalities reproduced by alternating cliques of thieving rulers, actors of African capitalism; against discrimination against the poor in access to higher education and health care; against the deadly political manipulation of ethnic, racial and religious identities; against oppression based on neocolonial and obscurantist conceptions of “African traditions”, etc. These are struggles that all too often the neocolonial system, serving the capitalist bloc (traditional imperialism, emerging powers, African capital) manages to isolate from each other, on both the local and pan-African, or even extra-African and international levels, manages to contain and direct them according to its interests. Without building and consolidating popular solidarity and convergences in the struggles against the various tentacles of the capitalist octopus in Africa, in other words a pan-African anti-capitalist dynamic, there will be no emancipation of the exploited and oppressed people of Africa and no participation by them in the construction of a humanity where people will live well.


|1| Pierre Dockès, “Mondialisation et “impérialisme à l’envers”,” in Wladimir Andreff (ed.), La mondialisation, stade suprême du capitalisme? - en hommage à Charles Albert Michalet, Nanterre, Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2013, pp. 129-151, available online.

|2| Maintaining the status of China as an emerging capitalist power comes from the ideology according to which a capitalist power is free of pockets of underdevelopment, whereas very uneven but combined development is a constant feature of American society, making “Indian” reservations, the Black ghettos and Beverly Hills coexist in the same nation.

|3| Achille Mbembe (interview with Valérie Marin La Meslée), “Mbembé: ‘Le temps de l’Afrique viendra’ ”.

|4| Nelson Mandela “Africa’s Time has Come: The role of the United States In Aid and Development Efforts”, paper for the Brookings Institution, May 16, 2005.

|5| Antoine Glaser, Africafrance: quand les dirigeants africains deviennent les maîtres du jeu, Paris, Fayard, February 2014.

|6| Jean Batou, “The redeployment of French imperialism in Africa and the humanitarian daze of the left”, International Viewpoint, September 2014.

|7| Robert D. Kaplan, “Coming Anarchy”, Atlantic Monthly, February 1994.

|8| Dev Kar and Joseph Spaniers, Global Finance Integrity, Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2003-2012, Global Integrity, Washington DC, December 2014. See also: James K. Boyce, Léonce Ndikumana, Is Africa a Net Creditor? New Estimates of Capital Flight from Severely Indebted Sub-Saharan African Countries, 1970-1996, Working Paper Series No. 5.

|9| The countries of traditional central capitalism which pretend to be virtuous do not seem willing actually to fight this scourge, as they have proven recently in Addis Ababa, where the states of peripheral capitalism proposed establishing “new global tax norms. But the rich countries refused their proposal for an international tax organization under the auspices of the UN,” “A Addis Ababa, la lutte contre l’évasion fiscale des multinationales divise” Agência Angola Press, July 14, 2015.

|10| Irving Kristol (ideologue and co-founder of neoconservatism) stated in 1997: “No European country can – or really wants to – have its own foreign policy. There are not even any signs that European nations want a European foreign policy independent of the United States. They are dependent nations, even though they have wide local autonomy. The term ‘empire’ describes this mixture of dependency and autonomy.” “The Emerging American Imperium” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 1997.

|11| UNCTAD, Economic Development in Africa - Debt Sustainability: Oasis or Mirage?, Geneva, 2004, pp. 9 and 11. In 2013, the stock of sub-Saharan African external debt was still $367.5 billion, according to the 2015 edition of the International Debt Statistics of the World Bank, p. 27.

|12| Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar, Antonio Sanabria and Eric Toussaint, Les chiffres de la dette 2015 CADTM, p. 50. See also Health Poverty Action et al, Honest Accounts? The true history of Africa’s billion dollar Losses, July 2014.

|13| Abdoulaye Wade, “Europe-Afrique: la coopération en panne,” Passserelles, November-December 2007, p. 2.

|14| Isabelle Ramdoo, Accords de partenariat CEDEAO et SADC. Une analyse comparative, European Centre for Development Policy Management, Discussion Paper No. 165, September 2014, p. vii.

|15| A colonialism/neocolonialism that is shown by the customs/trade agreements to which are subject metropolitan imports of production that is overseas yet “national”. The countries concerned are: Spain, France, Holland, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Denmark (with Greenland).

|16| James Mackie, Anna Rosengren, Quentin de Roquefeuil et Nicola Tissi, « En route vers le Sommet de 2014. Enjeux pour les relations Afrique-UE en 2013 », Aperçu des politiques et de leur gestion N° 4, January 2013, p. 9,

|17| AIA, “ L’Association Industrielle Africaine s’oppose à la conclusion des Accords de Partenariat Économique”, April 24, 2007.

|18| Karl Marx, “Aperçu d’un rapport sur la question irlandaise à l’Association d’éducation communiste des travailleurs allemands de Londres”, quoted by Jean Batou, “Accumulation par dépossession et luttes anticapitalistes : une perspective historique longue”.

|19| UNCTAD, “Economic development in Africa. From Adjustment to Poverty Reduction: What’s new?”, Geneva 2002. See also Clémence Vergne, “L’Afrique subsaharienne peut-elle converger sans usines ?” Le Monde, July 24,2015.

|20| Bruno Alomar et Thierno Seydou Diop, “Refonder la relation Afrique-Europe autour de l’économie”.

|21| Jean Nanga, “Quel boom des classes moyennes en Afrique ?”, CADTM, December 24, 2014.

|22| Jean Batou, op. cit.

|23| Hubert Védrine, Lionel Zinsou, Tidjane Thiam, Jean-Michel Severino, Hakim El Karoui (rapporteurs), Un partenariat pour l’avenir : 15 propositions pour une nouvelle dynamique économique entre l’Afrique et la France, Ministère de l’Économie et des Finances (France), December 2013. See the analysis of this report made by Jean Batou, op. cit.

|24| Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, A decade of growth. Foreign investment in Africa, July 2013. In 2013, the British investment was $4.6 billion, according to the Ernst & Young 2014 Africa Attractiveness Survey.

|25| “UK profits from sub-Saharan Africa despite aid and debt pledges” July 5, 2006, referenced here, the Christian Aid link is no longer active.

|26| The former British prime minister is currently one of the so-called consultants or advisers who defraud African states by being paid a fortune in exchange for a worsening of their dependence on imperialist capital rather than economic sovereignty.

|27| David Leigh and Rob Evans, “BAE corruption investigation switches to Tanzania”, The Guardian, April 12, 2008.

|28| Available here. The 2010 Report of Business Action for Africa “Business partnerships for development in Africa. Redrawing the boundaries of possibility”, published with the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School) describes the situation before this public recognition of the subordination of the DFID. Concerning the relationship between the DFID and the British NGO, cf. Tina Wallace, “NGO Dilemmas: Trojan Horse for Global neoliberalism?” Socialist Register 2004, p. 202-219.

|29| Isabella Mosselmans, “British mining companies’ exploitation of Sierra Leone”, Africa at LSE, December 23, 2013. See also: Sam Jones, “£600m of UK aid fuelling corporate scramble for Africa, claims critics”, The Guardian, April 1, 2014.

|30| Afua Hirsch, “Ghana accuses UK recycling firm Environcom of illegal fridge imports”, The Guardian, November 4, 2013.

|31| National Security Review 30: “American Policy Toward Africa in the 1990s (NSR30)”, 1992. Available on the website of the Bush [senior] Library.

|32| Quoted in La Tribune

|33| Jagdish Bhagwati and A. Panagariya, “A Trojan Horse for Africa”, quote from the Financial Times, June 29, 2000, available at:.

|34| “L’aide du Compte du millénaire sera réservée aux pays responsables”, Washington File, March 2003.

|35| Firestone was acquired in 1988 by the world leader in tyres, the Japanese company Bridgestone. The Liberian plantations were part of the patrimony of the American multinational. But the acquisition by the Japanese multinational does not prevent the Firestone Natural Rubber Company to be part of the US Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).

|36| W.E. Burghardt Du Bois made it a model of contempt for the national sovereignty of an African country by a capitalist enterprise supported by its country of origin (“Liberia, the League and the United States”, Foreign Affairs, July, 1933). Bridgestone continued the tradition of Firestone in Liberia, hence a complaint about working conditions of virtual slavery in its plantations that were “made secure” by a private security firm (Robtel Neejai Pailey, “Visage moderne de l’esclavage au Libéria “, Pambazuka, August 2, 2006 ) and a denunciation of the new concession (“Recommendations for future concession contract negotiations drawn from the amended Firestone contract”, December 2008.)

|37| Peter Kenworthy, “Living on the Coke side of life in Swaziland”, Pambazuka News, 22 June, 2011; “Coca-Cola ‘supports Swazi dictator’”, Swaziland Newsletter, January 3, 2012. For a brief summary of the practices of Coca-Cola, cf. Heather Gray, “Coca-Cola and its egregious history”, Counterpunch, August 29-31, 2014.

|38| According to a national security adviser to Obama, “If the United States does not impose itself as the leader in Africa, we will fall behind in a very important region of the world” (quoted in Zcomm,, June 29, 2013).

|39| “S. Hayes, Senate Subcommittee testimony on China in Africa”, November 2, 2011.

|40| Peter Maass, “A Touch of Crude”, Mother Jones, January/February 2005.

|41| Matthew Bishop (The Economist) and Michael Green published in 2009 Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World. Cf. Philanthropic Intelligence, “Philanthrocapitalism 2012 - a conversation with Matthew Bishop” ,June 2012.

|42| Cf. Mittal with Melissa Moore, Voices from Africa. African Farmers and Environmentalists speak out against a new green revolution in Africa, The Oakland Institute, 2009.

|43| Les Amis de la Terre, Afrique: Terre(s) de toutes les convoitises. Ampleur et conséquences de l’accaparement des terres pour produire des agrocarburants, June 2010, p. 13

|44| Alex Park and Jaeah Lee, “The Gates Foundation’s Hyprocritical Investments”, Mother Jones, December 6, 2013. The Gates Foundation is the sponsor of the online editions of the (centre-left?) daily The Guardian (where you can read the editorial entitled “There is no choice: we must grow genetically modified crops now”, 16 March 2014) as well as of articles on Africa in its French alter ego Le Monde (along with the World Bank, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa of George Soros and the French Development Agency).

|45| AFSA and GRAIN, “Remise en cause des lois foncières et semencières. Qui tire les ficelles des changements en Afrique ?”. » January 2015. See also the diplomatic cables disclosed by Wikileaks, such as #05ROME2543, #08Pretoria2707, #04Accra1543, # 10ADDISABABA

|46| “Ghana can choose or reject GMOs - US Embassy”, December 16,2013. See also the file concerning Nigeria on the site of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF): “Not on Our Plates. Why Nigeria does not need GM food”, Benin City, July 2014.

|47| Aimé Césaire: “We must not forget how Africa was. As in all countries, there were rulers and ruled. There was a ruling class or a small ruling clique and then there were the people. There was a priest, his family and there were merchants. They engaged in trade. And what were they selling? They were selling Negroes because [that was] the only product that interested the Europeans. They sold Negroes as they could have sold oxen or cows. What interested the Europeans was not oil, but workers! ... Of course, we must not exaggerate. The Negro leaders sold Africans because there were customers, that is what the Whites were asking for and that was all there was: we cannot deny that there was African involvement, but it was not what people think. It was not [the involvement of] the African people, but of the rulers eager for profit and money.” Interview with Aimé Césaire by Buata Malela (Fort-de-France, December 2004), in Revue Latitudes noires 2003-2004: “Panafricanisme: Piège post-colonial construction identitaire non blanche”(pp. 37-41), p. 38 for the quotation.

|48| Cf. Coalition pour la protection du patrimoine génétique africain (COPAGEN), “Non! L’Afrique n’a pas besoin des OGM”, August 30, 2013.

|49| Cf.Pambazuka News, (November 2013 - January 2014) devoted to race relations in Brazil

|50| Kiyoshi Kojima, “The ‘flying geese’ model of Asian economic development: origin, theoretical extensions, and regional policy implications”, Journal of Asian Economics, 11 (2000), p. 375-401.

|51| Arik Dirlif, “Beijing Consensus: Beijing ‘Gongshi’. Who Recognizes Whom and to What End”.

|52| Mthuli Ncube, “Avant-propos” to Richard Schiere, Léonce Ndikumana and Peter Walkenhorst (eds.), La Chine et l’Afrique : un nouveau partenariat pour le développement ?, Groupe de la Banque africaine de développement, Tunis, 2011, p. III.

|53| A decline that is contested by the co-editor of the Védrine Report, the Beninese-French Lionel Zinsou, recently appointed Prime Minister of Benin, who notes rather “an increase in trade figures between France and Africa to the tune of 20 per cent over the last 10 years.” See Awa Diallo, “Lionel Zinsou et Guy Gweth: le choc des Afriques”, Financial Afrik, February 9, 2015.

|54| Financial Times, March 11, 2013.

|55| Statement attributed to the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which serves as title of a dispatch from Xinhu, August 7, 2014.

|56| China represents 16.5 per cent of world GDP at purchasing power parity, PPP, against 16.3 per cent for the United States in 2014, according to the IMF.

|57| China’s economic expansion in the former Third World outside Asia also concerns Latin America, see CEPAL, Primer Foro de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y caibeños y (CELAC) y China, Santiago, January 2015

|58| He Wenping, “African Integration: A New Opportunity for China-US Cooperation”, China-US Focus, March 19, 2015.

|59| “European direct investment in China has declined considerably, amounting to 9.14 billion euros in 2014, as against 17.1 billion euros in 2013, while Chinese direct investment in Europe increased from 5.5 billion euros in 2013 to 12.1 billion in 2014, Xinhua “The EU Ambassador to China insists on the investment sector in Sino-European cooperation”, March 7, 2015. Europe has been described by the French business newspaper Les Echos as “the new Eldorado for Chinese investors. France is perhaps the country that benefits most from this wave of Chinese investors,”August 28,2014. As for Chinese investment in the US, it amounted to $14 billion in 2013, twice as much as in 2012.

|60| “It will now be in the order of things for Chinese investments abroad to surpass foreign investment in China,” according to the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce La Tribune, August 18, 2014.

|61| According to Thierry Pairault, “over 80 per cent of FDI [Chinese, in Africa] is made by companies under direct supervision of the central government and their subsidiaries,” which have, however, relative autonomy. (“Les entreprises chinoises sous la tutelle directe du gouvernement illustrées par leur investissement en Afrique”, Revue de la régulation, 13, 1st semester 2013.

|62| The inability to change the said rules may be one of the explanations for the Chinese initiative of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), launched in October 2014 – by early April 2015, fifty countries had joined, including ten from Europe – which is considered to be a rival to the institutions under American hegemony, something that the Chinese authorities deny. The principal traditional allies of the United States – Germany, Australia, France, Italy, the UK and Switzerland – rushed to join when the Chinese took this initiative, going against US attempts to derail it. South Korea seems to be in the process of joining, although that seems impossible for Japan. In late August 2015, only two African countries (Egypt and South Africa) had joined. As for the evolution of the project the Bank of the BRICS, cf. Patrick Bond, “BRICS bankers confirm they will undergird – not undermine - Western financial decadence”, Pambazuka News, July 15, 2015.

|63| Just as shareholders of transnational firms that are defined as French, German or from other Western countries are often of different nationalities, including Chinese, some transnationals defined as Chinese also have shareholders of nationalities other than Chinese. For example, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the leading Chinese bank, has among other shareholders Allianz, American Express and Goldman Sachs.

|64| Olivier Cyran, “Au Bangladesh, les meurtriers du prêt-à-porter”, Le Monde diplomatique, June 2013.

|65| Jens Hansegard and Heidi Vogt, “H & M Looks to Source Clothing From Ethiopia”, Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2013.

|66| Khadija Sharife, “Disappearing Diamonds”, 100Reporters. See also: “The Queensway syndicate and the Africa trade”, The Economist, August 13, 2011, and the interview with J.R. Maley, “Sam Pa: la face sombre de la Chinafrique”, Le Monde Afrique, June 2, 2015.

|67| Judith Marshall, “Brazil’s mining giant Vale: behind the image of South-South solidarity”, Tensões Mundiales, Fortaleza, vol. 10, No. 18-19, 2014, p. 205-230.

|68| “India, for example, is investing heavily in mobile telephones, financial services and information technology. But it is doing it in a traditional fashion, whereas China is acting in an unorthodox way”, “L’Afrique au rythme de l’économie mondiale : entrevue avec Mthuli Ncube, vice-président of the African Development Group”

|69| Xinhua, “Livre blanc : les investissements chinois en Afrique subsaharienne augmentent de 20,5% par an”, August 29, 2013.

|70| ChineInde/Ma Padioleau, “L’Afrique, une priorité pour l’Inde”.

|71| Stephen Gelb, “South Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment Links with the BRIC Countries”, World Trade Institute-Mandela Institute Working Paper, September 2014.

|72| Patrick Bond, “Foreign investment retreat from Africa: Gaming, naming and shaming ‘licit financial flows’“, Links, August 10, 2015, with a map showing that only Algeria, Libya and Tunisia do not have investments by the top ten companies in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

|73| Thomas Cabral and Estelle Maussion, “Isabel dos Santos, figurehead of Angolan investments in Portugal”, AEM-AFP, June 24, 2015.

|74| AGEFI “Recapitalisation par les colonies”, October 18, 2013.

|75| Agence Ecofin, “La fortune cumulée des 55 milliardaires africains dépasse le PIB de la CEMAC et de l’UEMOA”, November 17, 2014.

|76| PANA, “L’UE nie avoir perdu le commerce africain et la bataille des investissements”, March 31, 2014.

|77| UNDP, Human Development Report 2014. Sustaining Human Progress: reduce vulnerabilities and build resilience, August 31, 2014.

|78| 05LAGOS362 Cable, “Aliko Dangote and Why You Should Know About Him”, March 7, 2005. A later cable (07ABUJA1658, “Northern Rulers is Yar’Adua’s Initial Strategies”, August 2, 2007.) states that “Dangote and Obasanjo were both part of the consortium that bought Port Harcourt and the Kaduna Refineries.” Olusegun Obasanjo was the head of one of the military juntas that ruled Nigeria from 1976 to 1979 and then the country’s elected president from 1999 to 2007.

|79| Adama Anouchka Ba, “Pout : Les travailleurs de la cimenterie Dangote étalent leurs maux et observent un arrêt de travail”, Seneweb, April 16, 2015.

|80| Jacques Leroueil, “Les nouveaux milliardaires africains”, Terangaweb.

|81| See the report of the International Labour Organization, Global Employment Trends 2013. “Recovering from a second jobs dip”, Geneva, 2013, p. 90-95.

|82| The decolonization of the early 1960s concerned less than half the colonies (British, Spanish, French, Portuguese) in Africa. The accession to independence continued over the following decades.

|83| The military cooperation of Britain with most of its former colonies was quite active, with the exception of Tanzania under Nyerere, but without troops being stationed, despite defence agreements with Kenya and with Zambia (until 1968), for example. At present, British soldiers (a few dozen in each case) are permanently stationed at Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory, where the entire population was deported to Mauritius and the Seychelles and the United Kingdom leased the island to the US for the installation of a military base), in Kenya and in Sierra Leone.

|84| Behind France’s interference in Nigeria alongside the Biafran secessionists, there was both interest in oil on the part of Elf-Erap and the desire of Houphouët-Boigny (president of Ivory Coast 1960-1993).

|85| Nick Turse, “The Pivot to Africa. The startling size, scope and growth of US military operations on the African continent”,, September 5, 2013.

|86| Jean Nanga, “A neo-colonial intervention under French leadership”, International Viewpoint, March 2013.

|87| Canada, whose economic crimes still enjoy some discretion from the media (Alain Deneault, with Delphine Abadie and William Sacher, Noir Canada. Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique, Montreal, Écosociété, 2008) has been seeking a base in Djibouti and in Sénégal (Ameth Lo, “Projet de base militaire canadien au Sénéegal: enjeux et perspectives”, Pambazuka News, November 22, 2011. Troops from Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore are also in the region.

|88| Lawrence Repeta, “Japan’s Proposed National Security Legislation - Will This Be the End of Article 9?”, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol. 3, Issue. 24, No. 3, June 22, 2015.

|89| Alfred McCoy, “The Geopolitics of America’s Global Decline. Washington Versus China in the Twenty-First Century”,, June 7, 2015.

|90| Jean Nanga, “Les non-dits de l’intervention militaire française”, Inprecor, No 601/602, January-February 2014.

|91| On pressure from donors, cf. Sally Reith, “Money power, and donor-NGO partnerships”, Development in Practice, Vol. 20, Number 3, May 2010, p. 446-455.

|92| Anne-Emanuelle Birn, “Philanthrocapitalism, past and present: The Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and the setting(s) of the international/global health agenda,”, Hypothesis Vol. 12 No. 1.

|93| George Soros, “The Capitalist Threat”, The Atlantic Online, February 1997. As Slavoj Zizek put it very well: “He embodies a fierce financial exploitation combined with its own antagonist: a humanitarian concern about the catastrophic social consequences of an unbridled market economy. The daily routine of someone like Soros is fraud personified,” (“Les faux ennemis du progrès”, Courrier International, December 6, 2006).

|94| Alerte Info, “Le mouvement “Y’en a marre” n’est pas manipulable, selon son coordonnateur”, ITW, May 5, 2015.

|95| Sabine Cessou “Sénégal : Pour Fadel Barro, du mouvement Y’en a marre, ‘Obama est un président sympa et attentif’”, RFI, June 29, 2013.

|96| Alerte Info, idem.

|97| Cf. Fode Roland Diagne, “Les nouveaux “Tirailleurs” de l’impérialisme en Afrique”, l’Autre Afrique April 3, 2015; Jean-Pierre Mbelu, “Les jeunes congolais “pro-démocratie” achetés par le dollar”, Ingeta, April 23, 2015.

|98| Cf. Maimouna Barro, “Development Aid and Higher Education in Africa: The Need for More Effective Partnerships between African Universities and Major American Foundations” CODESRIA Bulletin, No. 1 & 2, 2012, p. 20-29.

|99| Kako Nubukpo, “L’Afrique malade de ses économistes”, Alternatives économiques, September 21, 2011

|100| The Chinese ruling classes are more in a dynamic of imitation than one of creating other “ways of life”, despite the policy of expansion of Confucius centres.

|101| Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism, London, Nelson, 1965, chapter 18.

|102| See, for example, the recent appeal, launched on August 9, 2015 by a score of organizations of civil society and social movements in Africa: “African Civil Society Says No to Mining - Yes to Life”.


Jean Nanga

est militant du CADTM en Afrique, il collabore régulièrement à la revue Inprecor.



35 rue Fabry
4000 - Liège- Belgique

00324 226 62 85