|How to Rob Africa|
Why does the Western world feed Africa with one hand while taking from it with the other?
People and Power Last Modified: 08 Nov 2012 09:56
The world's wealthy countries often criticise African nations for corruption - especially that perpetrated by those among the continent's government and business leaders who abuse their positions by looting tens of billions of dollars in national assets or the profits from state-owned enterprises that could otherwise be used to relieve the plight of some of the world's poorest peoples.
Yet the West is culpable too in that it often looks the other way when that same dirty money is channelled into bank accounts in Europe and the US.
International money laundering regulations are supposed to stop the proceeds of corruption being moved around the world in this way, but it seems the developed world's financial system is far more tempted by the prospect of large cash injections than it should be.
Indeed the West even provides the getaway vehicles for this theft, in the shape of anonymous off-shore companies and investment entities, whose disguised ownership makes it too easy for the corrupt and dishonest to squirrel away stolen funds in bank accounts overseas.
This makes them nigh on impossible for investigators to trace, let alone recover.
It is something that has long bothered Zimbabwean journalist Stanley Kwenda - who cites the troubling case of the Marange diamond fields in the east of his country.
A few years ago rich deposits were discovered there which held out the promise of billions of dollars of revenue that could have filled the public purse and from there have been spent on much needed improvements to roads, schools and hospitals.
The surrounding region is one of the most impoverished in the country, desperate for the development that the profits from mining could bring. But as Kwenda found out from local community leader Malvern Mudiwa, this much anticipated bounty never appeared.
"When these diamonds came, they came as a God-given gift. So we thought now we are going to benefit from jobs, infrastructure, we thought maybe our roads were going to improve, so that generations and generations will benefit from this, not one individual. But what is happening, honestly, honestly it's a shame!"
What is happening is actually something of a mystery because though the mines are clearly in operation and producing billions of dollars worth of gems every year, little if any of it has ever been put into Zimbabwe's state coffers.
Local and international non-governmental organisations say they believe this is because the money is actually being used to maintain President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in power.
True or not, it is clear that the country's finance minister, Tendai Biti, has seen none of it. A representative of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which sits in uneasy coalition with ZANU-PF, he says he has no idea where it is going.
"We have got evidence of the quantities that are being mined, the quantities that are being exported but nothing is coming to the fiscus .... All I know is that it's not coming to the treasury. So that is a self-evident question. It is not coming to us. That means someone is getting it. The person who is getting it is not getting it legally. Therefore, he's a thief, therefore she’s a thief."
Sadly, as Stanley Kwenda has realised, it is typical of a problem found all over Africa.
The continent is rich is natural resources that are being exploited for big profits, but the money is rarely used for the benefit of the people. Instead it goes to line the pockets of corrupt officials who then often smuggle it out to be deposited in secret offshore bank accounts in the developed world.
So who facilitates these transactions? And how and why does the developed world make it so easy to launder this dirty cash?
In this revealing investigation for People & Power, Kwenda and the Ghanaian undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, set off to find out. Posing as a corrupt Zimbabwean official and his lawyer, their probe takes them deep into the murky world of 'corporate service providers' - experts in the formation of company structures that allow the corrupt to circumvent lax international money laundering rules.
It just so happens that the pair's enquiries take place in the Seychelles but, as they discover to their horror, they could just as easily be in any one of a number of offshore locations (or even in the major cities of Europe and the US) where anonymous companies can be set up for the express purpose of secretly moving money and keeping its origins hidden from prying eyes.
By Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Despite the abundance of resources on the continent, success has been very elusive for many Africans. The narrative is one many are too familiar with: corrupt leaders force themselves into political office, then they work to undermine the progress of their people.
That is what leaves many African countries poor - corrupt leadership. It hinders progress.
What has kept this diagnosis of Africa from a cure is not immediately clear. Foreign aid, debt relief and the many notes of economic salvation have been applied. Not much has changed. Dreams fail for many young Africans. The trouble with Africa still looms large.
The need for Africa's troubled state has inspired my career as an undercover investigative journalist.
Over the past decade, I have tried to focus on human rights violations, corruption and the many ills that plague society. Through many anti-human trafficking and anti-corruption stories, I have come close to answers.
Exposing bribe-taking police officers, public officials and other corrupt individuals has brought some change. This has been on the ground, yet many of the problems still persist.
This film, How to Rob Africa, takes this further by focusing on what many leaders in high office do that leaves the continent in a bad shape.
Decades into political independence, many African governments remain reliant on foreign aid, yet often as soon as this aid arrives it is spirited away into the personal accounts of the leaders who are supposed to be looking after the interests of their people - and ironically many of those accounts are back in the West.
It is no surprise that many Africans are left asking the developed world: "Why do you frown publicly about corruption, yet turn a blind eye to its fruits?"
What we sought to do in our investigation was to point in the direction of money laundering as a substantial contributor to Africa's corruption - or at least one of the most important enabling factors - and the role played by corporate service providers in setting up structures to allow it to take place.
In the Seychelles, we found how easy it is to rob Africa. We learned about the clever but brazen tricks and scams that can be used (for a fee) to disguise the origins of money and the identities of those who are moving it around.
We do not say that all of Africa's woes are the fault of others outside the continent. Nor do we assume that criminality is the only reason why Africa, despite its many natural riches, has been kept in poverty.
But we did come away wondering why the outside world feeds Africa with one hand and takes from it with another. Why cannot the resources for aid be directed into fighting this obvious problem? Is it not about time that something was done to stop those stealing our wealth, and those helping them steal it, from evading responsibility prosecution for their crimes?
The European Scramble - The Story of Africa
Commercial greed, territorial ambition, and political rivalry all fuelled the European race to take over Africa. This culminated in Africa's partition at the Berlin Conference 1884-5. The whole process became known as "The Scramble for Africa".
ANGLO FRENCH RIVALRY
Until the 19th century the French had played a smaller role in Africa than the British, but their defeat in the Napoleonic War made them look to Africa for compensation. North Africa became a theatre for Anglo-French rivalry, illustrated most dramatically by the Fashoda incident, where troops from both powers marched from opposite directions to meet in the wilderness in southern Sudan, bringing the two European powers to the brink of war.
There were few French explorers but there was growing interest in the idea of using North Africa to play off the Germans against the British. This was what triggered off what became known as the "Scramble for Africa."
"Gentlemen, in Europe such as it is today, in this competition of the many rivals we see rising up around us, some by military or naval improvements, others by the prodigious development of a constantly growing population; in a Europe, or rather in a universe thus constituted, a policy of withdrawal or abstention is simply the high road to decadence! In our time nations are great only through the activity they deploy; it is not by spreading the peaceable light of their institutions...that they are great, in the present day."
Jules Ferry, Prime Minister of France [1880-1881, 1883-1885].
EGYPTFor centuries Egypt was ruled by the Ottomans based in what is now Turkey. Then in 1811 an Albanian army officer, Mohammed Ali, took power. Under his rule Egypt's economy and infrastructure expanded. Sudan fell under Egyptian control in the 1820s. By the middle of the century Britain grew concerned about Egypt's influence in the region and increasingly intervened in the commercial and political direction of the state.
By the late 1870s a nationalist movement began to take root. Using a Government overspend as an excuse the French and British imposed dual control. Riots and military rebellion then prompted the British to send in an army of occupation in 1882. This provoked a rift between the British and the French.
ALGERIAIn 1830 the French occupied Algiers; they subsequently came up against the Berber jihad launched by the Qadiriyya brotherhood under the leadership of Abd al-Kadir. Persistent and tireless in his opposition to the French Abd al-Kadir was not defeated until 1847 when he was sent into exile. But Berber and Arab fighters continued to resist the French until well into the 20th century.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Tunisia had a prosperous economy and cosmopolitan culture. Under Ahmed Bey there was a modest programme of modernisation. As in Egypt, the debts mounted up giving France an excuse to establish a Finance Commission. Tunisia became a French Protectorate in 1881.
Morocco alone in North Africa remained independent in the 19th century. European style modernisation was instituted under Mawlay al-Hasan (1873-94) but plans for secular education and the levying of taxes met with resistance from Muslim clerics. Morocco finally lost independence in 1912 and was partitioned between France and Spain. Ten years later, the nationalist movement in Egypt triumphed and Egypt gained independence in 1922.
In 1911 Italy invaded Libya, then under Ottoman rule. Ottoman resistance collapsed and Libya was accorded nominal independence(without consulting the people of Libya). But Italy continued to occupy Libya. The commander of the fighting force of the Sanussi brotherhood, Umar al Mukhtar, defied the Italians until 1931 when he was executed.
In 1854 Louis Faidherbe began the French conquest of the Senegal valley, and in 1863 Porto Novo (capital of modern Benin) was declared a French protectorate. There followed a series of treaties with rulers in the Ivory Coast.
By the end of the century the French had conceived a type of colonial rule which was highly centralised and made little effort to involve local rulers. This contrasted with the British colonial style, which in northern Nigeria took the form of indirect rule through the local Emirs and chiefs.
NEW & OLD PLAYERS
Despite the missionaries and the search for new trading outlets, Europeans in the first 80 years of the 19th century were not driven by any desire to rule and administer Africa. In 1865 the House of Commons committee in Britain recommended that Britain give up all her concerns on the West coast of Africa except for Sierra Leone.
Elsewhere in West Africa, leading African merchants still worked on equal terms with European traders in the 1860's, and even enjoyed the attention of Queen Victoria.
"We were favoured with sight of the beautiful baptismal present our beloved Queen has made to the infant of Mrs. J.P. L. Davies of Lagos, a lady well known as having enjoyed the high honour of being a protégé of her majesty.
The royal gift consists of a beautiful gold cup and salver, with knife, fork and spoon of the same metal and design, manufactured by J. Turner of New Bond Street, London. The cup and salver are both inscribed as follows: To Victoria Davies."
Queen Victoria quoted in the Anglo African newsletter, October 3rd 1863, on the occasion of the birth of a baby born to the leading African trader J.P.L. Davies and his wife, who was goddaughter to the Queen.
In the second half of the 19th century the piecemeal patchwork of alliances, trading colonies, protectorates and understandings yielded to sweeping changes imposed by the Europeans. No longer content with improvising as they went along, the British and the French were determined to put things in order and establish a clear administrative hierarchy with Europeans at the top and Africans below. Meanwhile, some of the oldest trading nations in Europe abandoned Africa and new players emerged. The Dutch and Danes left the continent whilst Germany, Italy and Belgium moved in. The Belgian claim to the Congo proved the most disastrous of all.
Elsewhere the mineral wealth of the continent fixated and dazzled European adventurers. But soon casual commercial dealings were replaced by systematic exploitation and control. At the beginning of the 19th century the European grasp of African geography was confined mainly to the coast. But by the end of the century Europeans were straddling the continent with railways and roads. Now it was possible to take control - politically and commercially.
The Scramble for Africa had the effect of defusing and displacing tensions between the European powers in Europe, but eventually the tradeoffs and alliances could not disguise the fact that Imperial Germany was on a collision course with Britain and France. Now for the first time, Africans found themselves dragged into a conflict which had its origins in the war rooms of Berlin and London. The moral posturing of European powers, supposedly representing civilisation, wisdom, reconciliation and order, soon disintegrated into the chaos, death and destruction of World War I.
How And Why Did The British Empire Take Over Some Of Africa?
What Role Did The 13 Colonies Have In The British Empire?
For a long time period ,Britain neglected its American Colonies.Meanwhile,they developed their trade defying the Navigation Act,according to which these colonies were authorized to trade with Britain only.Smuggling of goods also started .When Britain got involved in different fronts against the French and Indians,it sought more aid from these colonies and compelled them to bear part of war expenses.
As a result Briain strictly enforced the Navigation Act and stationed its troops in the colonies to have bird's-eye view over the colonists activities.
Why Was The British Empire Good?
They collected raw materials from colonies and sent to Great Britain. The raw materials were finished in big factories of Great Britain with the help of huge machinery's. The need for new machines resulted in the inventions of huge machines and which paved the way for industrial revolution, Urbanisation etc.
Acceptance of English language as universal language is another advantage.
Did The British Empire Take Over Africa?
Corporate Business Interest for the Scramble to Africa ???
Step 1: Unite 3rd world countries
1. gain support of small African groups
2. unite them to take over a nation, somehow gain support of surrounding nations
3. annex surrounding nations, possibly through drafting military in your nation/ add political/economic/social sanctions to them
4. continue drafting and sanctions as you move through middle east/central asia
5. continue draft and sanctions until you have all of asia
6. conquer Australia with draft and sanctions
7. conquer south america
8. continuing with draft and sanctions, take over Europe
9. with draft and sanctions, take over North America (starting with central america/mexico, then move to Canada, then last, the U.S.) then you can install yourself as emperor of the world!