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Debt and its racist dimension in Africa
Posted: Saturday, July 5, 2003

by Ras Benjamine

In September 2003 the World Trade Organisation looks set to ratify yet more laws, and fishing rights in favour of the West. Sub-Saharan Africa, so rich in human and natural resources, remains the economically poorest region of the world. Half of our people live in poverty, and in many African countries economic conditions have been getting worse for the last 20 years or more.

We all know that a free market is not a fair market particularly when Africa is involved. America and Europe policy on trade and investment needs to be ratify by Africans. Africans leaders need to understand that the third world is sustaining the economy of the West! Around the world, tariff controls, subsidies and export taxes are overwhelming our farmers in Africa making international competition impossible. In Mali, small-scale cotton growers are undercut by American behemoths; in Kenya, flower farmers have been deadheaded by Dutch import charges; in Senegal (West Africa), it is cheaper for a farmer to buy rice from South-East Asia than Senegalese rich from 10km down the road. In countries like Senegal, we have onions farmers who are working twice as hard for half the reward because Dutch onions are cheaper and forced upon the local natives. Up to 80 per cent of the Senegalese nation lives off their produce and now our people are struggling now because the international community will rather dump cheap imports on us than see Africans trade themselves out of poverty and debt! Much of the debt accumulated by African countries was built up during the 1970s, a time of reckless lending by banks and international agencies, and was agreed to by undemocratic governments. In many cases, the population of the borrowing country realized little benefit from the loans as the money disappeared in failed infrastructure projects, corrupt schemes, or unwise investments. The debt has continued to grow since then as governments take out new loans to pay off old ones.

The general consensus amongst many African economists is that external debt of African countries is clearly odious, illegitimate and immoral. It is a tool that the West are not prepared to relinquish. It is a tool used as an instrument to perpetuate their control and domination of the economies of Africa and reduce international competition and gain world domination. Debt has a racist dimension because of its impact on the people of Africa. It is estimated that about 19,000 children per annum in most African countries die of preventable diseases. This is a direct consequence of the deterioration of the health systems for lack of public investments crowded out by debt service. This would never be tolerated in Europe or America, but the lives of people in Africa are clearly considered to be less important than those in the North.

Some Solutions:
-Raise mass consciousness that debt is a fraud
-Build a grassroots global movement against paying so called debt
-Develop an alternative to Structural Adjustment as a precondition for any mandate to run a government in Africa and the developing world
-Given that women produce 80% of Africa's food, head 60% of Africa's households and do similar work in the rest of the developing world, the Campaign will advance the aims of Global Women's Strike and fight for its realisation.

Africa and the rest of the former colonies don't owe western banks and governments anything. Why should the hardest working people in the world beg for debt 'relief' while the IMF and World Bank are organising the robbery of their every resource, forcing us to work even harder?
 

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