The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

G8 Summit:
Africa relegated to second place

Jul 22, 2002

The last G8 summit of the eight most powerful countries in the world, which was held near Calgary, in Canada, was supposedly devoted to Africa. Four African heads of state (South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal) were invited for the first time to plead their case in support of the "New Partnership for the development of Africa.” This project, according to those who conceived it, would cost 64 billion dollars for investment each year.

In fact, the problems facing Africa were hardly at the center of the discussions. These were overshadowed by the focus on the so-called “fight against terrorism” and the conflict in the Middle East. This could be seen in the amount of money pledged at the conference: 20 billion dollars to this so-called “war on terrorism;” one billion to development of Africa – in the form of debt reduction. This reduction is a joke compared to the total debt of the continent of Africa!

As for everything else at the summit, it was just talk and declarations as usual. The socalled decision to devote half of the public development aid to Africa carried no guarantees. The European countries declared they were going to increase their aid to all countries, among them Africa, from this year through 2006. Today, the total amount of aid given by the European countries represents only 1/3 of one% of their gross national product; and that of the United States represents only 1/10 of one% of the gross national product. And this aid has been decreasing each year. Even if all the countries kept to their promises, this won’t make up for the decrease over recent years.

Even more to the point, public aid for development is ridiculously low compared to the immediate and urgent needs for just health and education in Africa and the rest of the Third World. And the money that is given as aid to a country rarely benefits the poorest people in the most need. Finally, the most aid goes to the countries judged to be the most “interesting,” that is, those in Africa which are labeled “useful” by the international experts for the economic and political interest of imperialism. Concretely, this usually means those African countries that produce oil and other natural mineral resources, to the benefit of the high profits of the multinational corporations.

The bourgeoisie in these African countries take public funds for their own benefit, when it is not used for the benefit of the multinationals. Imperialism uses this money as a means to corrupt local officials, heads of state, ministers and others who can serve its interests. Thus the requirement by the G8 for these countries to have "good government" in order to receive aid is nothing but total hypocrisy! As the African dictator Omar Bongo, the "friend of France,” put it bluntly: "For there to be someone corrupt, there must be a corrupter!"

Africa has been abandoned by the big powers of the world for everything except what is considered necessary for the making of profits. The multinationals are interested only in those things that can increase their riches. It doesn't matter if half of the population of the continent lives on less than one dollar a day, without access to drinkable water, electricity, health care or education.

The hard reality is that there is only the pillage of Western and Equatorial Africa by the western European and American oil companies, and the rape of the natural minerals in the socalled Democratic Republic of the Congo, which today is left dismantled and carved up. The speculation over agricultural products on the stock markets in New York, London and Paris has ruined the small growers of coffee and cocoa in the Ivory Coast. Not to mention that the government subsidies given in the U.S. to cotton producers have reduced to ruin the small African producers who are without the same means.

The International Monetary Fund recently took action in the name of free trade and commerce: it dismantled an organization which negotiated for the little African producers on the world market. Under these conditions, only ruin is assured. Many millions of West Africans will directly see their standard of living once again under attack because of the speculation in the rich countries.

There is no need to look far and wide to find the reasons for underdevelopment and for the poverty. Africa is sinking further because of capitalism’s hold on it. And those sitting at the table of the G8 summit represent capitalism’s interests.