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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The new Scramble for Africa

From Gabriel Rozenberg in the Times: how the penny has started to drop at Oxfam, the DfID etc... just when it's too late to make any difference:-

'[...]China will deal with anyone, and pariah states are a gap in the market. Despite US concerns, China treats these countries as it wishes to be treated itself: be they corrupt, inept, or genocidal, it doesn't get involved. Put aside whether this is a recipe for a new Cold War — what does it mean for Bono?

'Britain’s “development community” has been searching its soul recently. In particular it seems to have gone off aid. The idealistic, hippy talk of the redistribution of wealth is now passé as the penny drops that the billions given to Africa have only kept tinpot elites in power. “I think Africans must have been smiling and cringeing at times when they saw us just thinking that money could solve their problems,” said Bono earlier this year. “Aid is not a magic bullet,” says Duncan Green, Oxfam’s head of research. “The real drivers of change are internal.”

'The new buzzword is governance. Growth will come only when accountable governments establish property rights and weed out corruption. Tricky though it is, the Department for International Development is now trying to encourage good governance, by cutting back aid to countries that persecute opposition leaders and supporters. The latest approach makes sense. But, sadly, the game is up: China makes it irrelevant. It is giving billions of dollars of loans to Angola, for example, with no strings attached in return for oil contracts. Raddled old kleptocrats such as President José Eduardo dos Santos can now raise two fingers to the West.'

Very depressing. He may be overstating his case, but not by much, I fear. Looks like now is the time for Africans to rise up against the kleptocrats - before they find themselves facing Chinese tanks.

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