23 November 2018

Africa: 'Voluntary Colonialism'? No Thanks.

Photo: allafrica.com
Colonialism is looking to make a comeback.
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Cape Town — As if the scramble for Africa wasn't bad enough, Germany's personal representative of Angela Merkel for Africa, Günther Nooke, says Europe deserves a second chance to screw the continent over.

In an interview with the BBC, Nooke touted the idea that African governments should lease land to European powers to establish autonomous cities that would supposedly provide quality services and create jobs. All this, he says, is necessary to push development that will discourage the large numbers of African migrants that are seeking refuge and economic opportunity in Europe.

Mhhhm. So yes, Africa does have huge governance challenges but so does the whole world. Most of Europe, influenced by regressive right-wing politics in the U.S. since the era of U.S. President Donald Trump, is seeing a resurgence of conservatism and anti-migrant sentiment. The U.S. and Europe act as if corruption and mismanagement is an African invention. It's one of the few things they'll actually give us credit for.

Let's look at the migrant crisis though. Global multinationals who are in many cases a law unto themselves because of their financial clout and political lobbying have been implicated in doing their utmost to avoid paying their dues to African governments where they do business. The Economic Commission for Africa even instituted a high-level panel to look at illicit capital flows from the continent, up to U.S,$50 billion a year they say. How about mounting a campaign to address that, Günther? Wouldn't that help local development?

Then there's the totally skewed global trade regime that favours powerful nations and leave developing countries feeling totally exploited in many instances. Take the second hand clothes that the U.S. is forcing on East African countries, for example.

And then there's land grabs, where governments and companies strike deals that often displace local people, deny them access to local resources and often only benefit elites.

Here's the thing Günther, the last time colonialism visited these shores it didn't end so well for us ... Just ask the Namibians.

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