Yesterday during a three-nation tour of Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had these words of caution for her hosts:
Clinton on Saturday warned of a creeping "new colonialism" in Africa from foreign investors and governments interested only in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves.
African leaders must ensure that foreign projects are sustainable and benefit all their citizens, not only elites, she said.
Clinton did not identify any perceived culprits, but a day earlier she had urged scrutiny of China’s large investments and business interests in Africa so that the African people are not taken advantage of. She said U.S. diplomats in Africa had been asked to provide Washington with assessments of Chinese projects in the countries to which they are assigned.
"We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave," Clinton said Saturday in the Zambian capital of Lusaka before flying to Tanzania. "And when you leave, you don’t leave much behind for the people who are there. We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa."
SOURCE: Associated Press via News One.
She might have a point, but we wouldn't blame Africans if they were skeptical about it. The Western colonial masters of the past — through corporate interests and their dominance of global financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank — still have the upper hand in their own business relations with African countries and aren't always known as being good corporate citizens. Meanwhile, if the U.S. wants to counter China's growing influence in Africa, it will need to step up to the plate with serious investment in — not just aid to — the continent.
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Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.