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Friday, July 20, 2007

Africans are not Beggars!

Africans are not beggers, declares James Shikwati, Director of a Kenyan Think Tank, Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) through The African Executive online magazine (

Africans are underpricing their raw materials and commodities to developed nations because their bargaining power is lowered by the weight of foreign aid and debt relief. Countries that feature on the debt relief sheet coincidentally have raw materials of strategic importance to Western nations and China. For example, Niger has Uranium, Nigeria (Oil), Democratic Republic of Congo (Uranium, Coltan and Cassiterite among may other minerals). Uganda has Oil and is the gateway to East DRC. The majority of countries on the debt relief list are also involved in some form of violent conflict that is linked to subsurface wealth.

Take for instance Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that holds the world's estimated 70% of Coltan and 34% of Cassiterite, two strategic minerals in the production of cell phone, laptops and other portable electronics. Stan Cox, a journalist with Channel 4 TV last year pointed out how 50 kilogram packs of Cassiterite fetch $400 on the world market while it fetches Congolese $5 if they are lucky not to be robbed by soldiers. Recall, DRC has only 300 miles of paved roads (good place to send AID for roads eh?) The World cell phone industry is churning out 25 cell phones per second everyday. Supposing DRC was stable politically and traded its products in a sober manner in the World market, would it queue for aid? (Put another way, who gains when African countries are politically unstable?)

Recently, G8 leaders announced a $60 billion aid package to enable Africa fight HIV-Aids and other diseases. What the leaders never told the world is the billions they are raking out of Africa through extraction of subsurface wealth when they con our leaders into believing that we are poor and incapable of solving our own problems. The current relationship between "moneyed" countries and Africa is very much similar to those who target Mumias sugar cane farmers to lease out their cane and or sale their company stock shares to address short term needs.

Rich countries are smart. They too focus on "sexy" headline grabbing packages such as disease and poverty to engage in what may become the greatest fraud in the World once all facts are pinned together. Africans are not beggars, we are simply being conned! We must urgently develop "Irrevocable Forms" to ensure we get right pricing for our products.

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