Who Owns Africa?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I asked this question years ago (around 1996), as Director General of UNESCO during a meeting on African development.

One of the participants had underscored the difficulties that corruption poses for the proper distribution of aid.

In my intervention I admitted that it might be true in some cases, and that certain corrupt persons were well known. But I added that I was much more concerned about the corrupters. The important question is who are the real owners and who are the real beneficiaries of Africa’s immense (gold, diamonds, oil, bauxite, coltan, uranium) resources?

The exploitation continues. A few multinationals continue to control the energy sources and mineral wealth of the entire continent. Others buy land directly!

There is total impunity at the supranational level, because the G-7, G-8 and G-20 have not been able to replace the United Nations, whether they want to recognize it or not.

The huge oil tankers don’t comply with transportation safety regulations. And the environment is ignored, especially with respect to the exploitation of gold mines…

We recently read about the uranium mines in Arlit, in Niger, which supply French nuclear plants, and where the Maghreb branch of Al-Qaeda kidnapped five employees of the “strategic French multinational” Areva. That same day in the Gulf of Guinea two additional hostages were kidnapped in the oil fields of Taddox, a subsidiary of the Chinese group Sinopec, for which the French company Bourbon provides maritime services…

So let’s take stock. Let’s draw a map showing the real owners of Africa. We will discover many keys for meeting the challenges facing this continent. But we will have to make radical changes. We will have to replace exploitation with cooperation; an economy of speculation and war with an economy of sustainable global development; governance by plutocrats with governance by a renewed United Nations.

And the corrupt? What about the corrupters?

Who owns Africa? (And the world?)

Power (whether it be financial, military, political, technological or the communications media) is in the hands of a very few. But progressively it must change to many. The “peoples” will soon mobilize. They will soon express themselves with voices that are loud and clear. We stand at the dawn of a new era.