Saturday September 18, 2021

Imperialism in Africa

September 15, 2021

Canadian imperialism in Africa has had a rare social media moment.

On Twitter K Diallo recently posted a map of the continent with the sum of Canadian mining investment in each African country under the words “75 percent of mining companies globally are now Canadian. Canada is a great source of corporate neocolonialism expansion.” The tweet received 25,000 likes and 8,500 retweets.

But the map is dated. It said there was $31.6 billion worth of Canadian mining investment in Africa yet Natural Resources Canada put the number at $37.8 billion in 2019. The scope of Canadian resource extraction on the continent is remarkable. Many companies based and traded here have taken African names (African Queen Mines, Asante Gold Corporation, Tanzanian Royalty Exploration, Lake Victoria Mining Company, Société d’Exploitation Minière d’Afrique de l’Ouest, East Africa Metals, International African Mining Gold (IAMGOLD), African Gold Group, etc.).

Canadian resource companies operating in Africa receive significant government support. Amongst a slew of pro-mining measures, Justin Trudeau’s government has put up more than $100 million in assistance for mining related projects in Africa, signed Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and backed Barrick Gold during a high-profile conflict with the Tanzanian government.

A similar Facebook meme on Ghana has also circulated widely in recent days. Appearing to originate from a statement posted by Kgoshi Mmaphuti Uhuru Mokwele, it notes: “Ghana is the biggest gold producing country in Africa and 8th in the world, but 93.3 percent of Ghana’s gold is owned by foreign corporations, mainly America and Canada. Ghana owns less than 2 percent of all the Gold in their land. Ghana has to borrow money from the IMF and World Bank to buy their own Gold, which is on their land, mined by Ghanaian workers, using Ghana’s resources. The price of the Gold is set in New York & can only be purchased with American dollar.”

Canada has certainly contributed to the Ghanaian (and African) impoverishment Mokwele alludes to. Alongside their counterparts from the US and Britain, Canadian officials participated in the 1944 Bretton Woods negotiations that established the IMF and World Bank and Ottawa continues to have outsized influence within those institutions. Tens of millions of dollars in Canadian aid money has supported IMF structural adjustment policies of privatization, liberalization and social spending cuts in Ghana, which benefited Canada’s rapacious mining industry.

After a high profile Canadian-financed structural adjustment program in the late 1980s NGO worker Ian Gary explained its impact: “Ghana’s traditional sources of income – gold, cocoa, and timber – have benefited from the program, but this has only exacerbated the colonial legacy of dependence. Nearly all of the $1.5 billion worth of private foreign investment has been in mining, with most of the profits being repatriated overseas.

Excerpted: ‘Canadian Imperialism in Africa’

Counterpunch.org