How African governments gobble aid

Not Northern Ireland, but sent to us by reader J M Lawrence, who has written on the subject of emerging markets in Euromoney, The Japan Times, The Boston Herald, The Baltimore Sun, The Boston Business Journal and The Cape Cod Times. He provides a litany of cases of corruption across Africa, and argues that a Marshall plan for that continent will just not work. Check this choice of two views from Tim Worstall.By J.M. Lawrence

“The Bermuda Triangle” – where money simply disappears – is what Angolans have dubbed the confluence of their country’s state-owned oil company, Central Bank and Presidency, The Economist notes. In that triangle of resource wealth, money and power, far more than $3 billion dollars in annual oil export earnings vanish. Not a trace can be found on government ledgers.

That Angolans were dying of hunger by the thousands in the late 1990’s, failed to compel an investigation into how the money needed to end hunger could remain unaccounted for. A clue, though, was supplied by The Washington Post, which reported in 1997 that the Angolan government was spending more on purchases of luxury automobiles for high-level government officials and their wives than on health care and education.

The “corrupt elite” governing Kenya is plundering their country’s economy to amass personal wealth, The Economist reported in 1999. On that diversion of national wealth into Swiss-type bank accounts, the Roman Catholic Church declared: “To notch up foreign bank accounts at the cost of hunger, suffering, blood and death of others is a repugnant infamy,” The Economist conveyed.

The Front de Liberation National, governing Algeria, has doled out $26 billion to officials in their party. This personal allotment of national wealth was recently disclosed by ex-prime minister, Mr. Abdelhamid Brahimi, The Free Africa Foundation relates in “The Rape and Plunder of Africa.”

Under the title “le sang des pauvres,” which translates to “the blood of the poor,” Liberation reported in 1992 that Mr. Moussa Traore, Mali’s former head-of-state used his term in office to steal more than $2 billion from that country.

And, the “financial drain continues,” The Free Africa Foundation expounds.

“So money is not the problem here, it’s the management!” the United Nations states in its May 4, 2005 report titled “The IMSCO Proposal/Report: Towards An African Solution.” The report relates that “Southern Black Africa” is “awash in oil and gas and they have more complete control of the world’s strategic metals: e.g. 99% of platinum group metals; 96% of chrome; 98% of manganese; 89% of diamond; 68% of gold; 97% of vanadium and 40% of uranium.” Finding: “These resources (sic) numbers strongly suggest that no one can successfully argue that Africans anywhere are poor, but rather disenfranchised.” Here the U.N. notes: “the world (sic) industrial nations are resources (sic) poor and badly need these resources.” Thus the U.N. determines that, “This wealth places Africa on the top of the Pyramid of the economic Resource War game.” The report asserts: “the people of Africa… can and must insist…that African governments are not the owners of African land and wealth.”

But most of the continent’s leadership continues to demonstrate an opposing view. “Leadership in Africa, with few exceptions, is seen as an opportunity to get rich rather than serve the people,” Mr. Tony Nze Njoku writes in Finance & Development, a World Bank publication.

“Dishonesty, thievery, and peculation pervade the public sector… The chief bandit is the head of state himself,” Mr. George Ayittay exposes in “The Vampire African State” for The Free Africa Foundation. Mr. Ayittay finds that “case after case” demonstrates that most African government officials are “Faithful only to their foreign bank accounts…”

In these foreign bank accounts, an estimated $140 billion had been illegally amassed by 1992, according to Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo, The New York Times reported. During a meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that year, President Obasanjo suggested that international financial centers should return this illicitly obtained wealth of corrupt African leaders. Why, then, was President Obasanjo later the same year requesting $64 billion in additional aid from the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations and Russia “when he could have asked the thieves [who] were sitting right in front of his very eyes at the OAU meeting” for the $64 billion, posited Mr. George B. N. Ayittey, Ph.D.

Why hasn’t President Obasanjo asked the thieves at home for the $64 billion? For, “the money suspected to have been stolen by some Nigerian government officials and kept in foreign accounts [rose] from $50 billion in 1999 to $170 billion in 2003,” Vanguard reports.

On these foreign bank accounts, Mr. David Asonye Ihenacho writes for Nigeriaworld:

First, the sum of 170 billion dollars…is about 60% of the entire debt owed by the entire continent of Africa to the rest of the world…Second, who are these Nigerians with this large sum of money stored overseas? The sum of 170 billion dollars is by far bigger than the entire wealth of the four richest people in the world combined. The wealth of Bill Gates III of Microsoft, Warren E. Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Karl and Theo Albrecht of Wal-mart retail and Paul G. Allen of Microsoft combined does not rise up to 170 billion dollars.

Individuals on the continent of Africa were transferring “$20 billion a year into bank accounts in Europe ” during the 1980’s, according to a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Africa Insider reported.

Critics of the government in Kenya assert that government officials there maintain their largest accounts “in foreign banks and that there is more money from Kenyans in foreign banks than the entire Kenyan foreign debt” of approximately $8 billion, The Washington Times wrote in 1995.

“What Arab country has $50 billion in private savings stashed abroad? asked The Economist in 1992. Egypt – a country with a $35 billion foreign debt and where “customers fight over Mercedes sports cars that sell for $400,000” – was the answer supplied. And a note furnished was that this is a ‘where a typical monthly wage is $50, and rubbish is collected by small dirty children in rickety donkey-carts”

As is the case for most of the Third World, for every dollar of foreign aid going into Africa, $3 flee the continent for banks in Europe and America, Mr. Philip Emeagwali informed the Voice of America in 2000. “Most African political leaders [have]…bank accounts in Europe,” primarily in Switzerland, Mr. Emeagwali continued.

“It is time the West helped Africa to retrieve the money our politicians have stashed in Western banks,” Mr.Ekoue Teko writes for New African. “If this is done…we will have enough to live on without borrowing,” he finds.

Not to do so will only perpetuate the ongoing travesty. On the problems confronting Equatorial Guinea, the Cape Times reported in 2004: “the root cause of the turbulence is very likely the same old problem which bedevils many African countries…And that is that the country’s leaders are quite simply hogging all the wealth to themselves.”

As an immigrant from the Third World told me: “There is no limit to how much they will steal from the poor.”

Yet, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the U.N. are touting a Millennium Project to donate more tens of billions of dollars to the thieving leaders in Africa. Mr. Blair and the U.N. assert that this Marshall Plan is needed to end poverty. They are blind to the fact that, as the Royal Africa Society states: “Africa has had a Marshall Plan several times over in the last 50 years and has little to show for it.”