Africa and the world economic crisis

As the capitalist economic crisis deepens throughout the world, mainstream media sources are predicting that the impact of the crisis in Africa will be “severe,” according to a March 10 article on

The March 16 issue of states, “Excluding gold and cocoa, raw-material prices [in Africa] have dropped across the board. Following a historic five-year boom during which energy prices soared by 320 percent, metals and minerals prices rose by nearly 300 percent and food prices were up 138 percent, commodities plunged in late 2008.”

Diamond prices, for example are down 30 percent while copper has plunged 60 percent, leading to mine closures and job losses in many regions.

As conditions intensify throughout the continent, the struggle of African workers grows and the African Socialist International is building. On April 9 and 10 the East Africa regional conference of the African Socialist International will be meeting in Nairobi.

Clearly the US and other foreign powers are not concerned about the deepening emiseration of the majority of African people. They are worried that they will not be able to protect their stolen “investments” in the face of the potential of struggle from the masses of African people.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the imperialist controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated at a recent meeting in Tanzania, “This is not only about protecting economic growth or household income, it is also about containing the threat of civil unrest, perhaps even a war.”

Africa’s economic crisis: slavery, plunder, colonialism

The reality is that it is mainly the imperial and corporate interests and the neocolonial class that are feeling the downturn in the capitalist economy.

Even during the capitalist economic boom years, more than half of Africa’s nearly 1 billion people were already subsisting on less than a dollar a day.

According to UNICEF 43 percent of Sub-Saharan African children do not have access to clean drinking water and 64 percent do not have adequate sanitation. The average African living on the continent faces 60 percent inflation every year.

Africa has been in a severe economic crisis since the 1400s when Europeans first set foot on the continent of Africa with canons and gun powder to steal African gold and resources and to turn African people into the world’s most lucrative commodity.

For 5,000 years prior to the European onslaught, Africa not only produced the greatest civilization on the planet but the world’s most prosperous economy.

Africa was so wealthy it knew no hunger or poverty. No child went to sleep with an empty stomach or was forced to be a child soldier in wars of aggression. Tourists from around the globe flocked to Africa to see its enormous development programs such massive pyramids and statuary along the Nile in a setting of lush, manicured landscaping.

Well into the middle ages African civilizations engaged in a lively and prosperous trade with most of the peoples of the earth including those in India and China.

Capitalism a parasite built at Africa’s expense

As Chairman Omali Yeshitela tells us, capitalism is a parasitic system that was born off the enslavement of African people, the theft of their land and the colonization of Africa and most of the non-white peoples of the world.

For nearly 600 years now Europe and the US have built their economic infrastructure and political power by stealing African labor, gold and resources, and selling African people.

This brutal rape and pillage of Africa made so much money that it took Europe out of its isolation and poverty, and catapulted it to its current status as hegemon of world imperialism.

Slavery and colonialism gave birth to the first stock market in Amsterdam in 1602, and the dollar sign grew out of the symbol, resembling shackles, used by slave ship owners to keep records of their human cargo.

The trade in African people poured unprecedented wealth into Europe and the US, and formed the basis for the industrial revolution that made raw materials from Africa increasingly important.

This was the basis for the abolition of chattel slavery in the Americans and the beginning of the genocidal system of direct colonialism which began the all-out looting of Africa’s precious resources that continues today.

With 30 percent of all of the world’s natural resources found on African soil, Africa should be the richest, most powerful economic power on the planet. But a half a millennium of colonial theft of its resources has left Africa mired in poverty unimaginable to the white world.

More than 60 of the world’s most important minerals are produced in Africa, including 40 percent of the world’s gold, 90 percent of all platinum, 65 percent of diamonds and 60 percent of cobalt, along with nickel, bauxite, uranium, manganese. Seventy-two percent of all the chromium in the world is found in South Africa alone and 80 percent of the world’s coltan, the mineral necessary for the functioning of computers and cell phones, is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition, Africa holds 10 percent of the world’s oil, most of which is considered to be the best quality “sweet” crude.

According to the “Economy of Africa,” on the site, “Africa’s most valuable exports are minerals and petroleum…While mining and drilling produce most of Africa’s revenues each year, these industries only employ about two million people, a tiny fraction of the continent’s population. Profits normally go to large corporations or to the government.”

Due to the ravages of European and US colonialism, which has used Africa as it’s free feeding ground for centuries, Africa as a whole has an economy that is smaller than Germany’s. If we remove South Africa and Egypt, the richest countries in the continent, Africa’s economy is smaller than Italy but with more than 13 times as many inhabitants. (

Sixty percent of African workers on the continent are employed in agriculture, but three-fifths of these are subsistence farmers who barely eke out enough for their families to eat, much less enjoy prosperity.

The large farms that grow cash crops such as coffee, cotton, cocoa and rubber are owned by large foreign corporations.

The current downturn in food prices does not affect most African subsistence farmers because they do not produce enough food to sell on the international market.

But when the current trillion-dollar US bailouts and stimulus policies kick in, the resulting inflation from printing so much money that is backed by nothing, will drive the average African family closer to starvation as food prices again skyrocket.

In terms of manufacturing, Africa is the least industrialized continent in the world, with only about 15 percent of workers employed in industry. Nearly all the continent’s natural resources are exported for pennies on the dollar for secondary refining and manufacturing benefitting the wealthy capitalist countries, increasingly including China and India.

Africa must be liberated by the leadership of African workers

This plunder of Africa is facilitated by neocolonialism, what the African People’s Socialist Party calls “white power in black face.” These are puppets propped up throughout every country of Africa to do the bidding of imperialism and its corporate powers.

As Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana explained, “The rulers of neocolonial States derive their authority to govern, not from the will of the people, but from the support which they obtain from their neocolonialist masters.

“They have therefore little interest in developing education, strengthening the bargaining power of their workers employed by expatriate firms, or indeed of taking any step which would challenge the colonial pattern of commerce and industry, which it is the object of neocolonialism to preserve. ‘Aid’, therefore, to a neo-colonial State is merely a revolving credit, paid by the neocolonial master, passing through the neocolonial State and returning to the neocolonial master in the form of increased profits.”

It is clear that the only answer for Africa is the complete liberation and reunification of Africa led by African workers and poor peasants. African workers must come together from throughout the world to build the African Socialist International and destroy the colonial borders of Africa that were imposed merely to facilitate the ongoing plunder of our land and our people.

As Luwezi Kinshasa, Director of International Affairs of the African People’s Socialist Party wrote in the introduction of Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s book, One Africa! One Nation!

“Only one social force will bring about genuine equality between peoples and nations in a world free from bosses and workers, slaves and slave masters.

“That social force is the African working class. Its organization is the African Socialist International.”

For more information on the upcoming African Socialist International regional conference in Nairobi, Kenya on April 9 and 10, email: or visit


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