Africa, Effects of Colonialism, Greed in Africa, News, The Looting Machine, World -

New Book Chronicles the Effects of Greed And Colonialism on Africa

Africa, Effects of Colonialism, Greed in Africa, News, The Looting Machine, World -

New Book Chronicles the Effects of Greed And Colonialism on Africa

Laurent Kabila, the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Augustin Katumba Mwanke was a young banker in South Africa when he was persuaded to return home to help rebuild the Democratic Republic of Congo by the new government of Laurent Kabila. A year later he got a call from the president, a fellow Katangan, and was stunned to be appointed governor of an area the size of France, with control over some of the world’s most valuable mineral seams.

This marked the start of his rapid rise to power beside the president, placed at the core of a network of Congolese officials, foreign businessmen and organized criminals plundering the nation’s immense wealth. First, they transferred $5bn of state assets into the pockets of private firms with no benefit to the state. Then after this was exposed, Katumba created a shadow state to steal funds, buy elections and bribe supporters. One witness says Kabila was being handed at least $4m a week in cash-filled suitcases from mining companies.

The victims, of course, are those millions condemned by the “resource curse” to conflict and poverty in a country that remains among the world’s poorest, despite the huge riches beneath their feet. As shown in The Looting Machine, a timely book by author Tom Burgis, similar shadow states are pillaging Africa’s immense wealth, from Angola to Zimbabwe, while corroding its societies. The result is a nation such as Nigeria, one of the world’s major oil producers, generating half as much electricity as North Korea – only enough to power one toaster for every 44 of its citizens.

After nine years reporting on Africa for the Financial Times, Tom Burgis exposes how the extractive industries have turned into a hideous looting machine, the west guilty of complicity in the raping of a continent. As he says, corruption does not end at the borders; kleptocratic regimes use avaricious allies to sell their commodities and stash illicit cash. “Its proponents include some of the world’s biggest companies, among them blue-chip multinationals in which, if you live in the west and have a pension, your money is almost certainly invested.”

Burgis shows how even the World Bank is linked to this looting, although it would have been good to see recognition of the role of aid propping up awful regimes. But the author makes an important case colorfully, convincingly and at times courageously as he confronts some of those involved in the pillaging.

Read more at The Guardian

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