The African Continent is the second-most populated continent on the planet after Asia. The Continent has an overall population of 1.4 billion and it was forecasted that it should reach 1.7 billion people by 2030. 2030 is seven years away. Yet, the African Continent remains the most underdeveloped continent of all continents for many reasons. Indeed, the majority of the poorest countries in the world are located in Africa.
The main reason explained in history books is the happenstance of colonization. For many historians, European colonization remains the main obstacle to the development of Africa and the principal source of its misery. Everything depends on what angle we are looking at this. From a moral and sociological perspective, European colonization has undeniably been a hindrance for African people. Families were separated by artificial borders settled by the Berlin Conference in 1885, and African people lived mostly in inhumane conditions. For example, King Leopold II, the King of Belgium, colonized the Congo and made African children work to death in the forest to extract sap to create rubber. In West Africa, for example, Colonial France imposed forced labor on colonized Africans to build railroads across the region. From a purely economic perspective though, colonization provided positive outcomes overall. It enabled the development of infrastructures and education. Prior to colonization, the African continent did not have any real infrastructures such as roads, bridges, modern buildings, and modern school systems.
In the post-independence era, most of the new African sovereign states chose a command-style economy over a market economy. Many African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania justified this choice. They argued that imperialism (colonization) is a form of capitalism. It is an exploitative system which increases the wealth of industrialized nations (European nations) and impoverishes further the colonized ones (African nations). For the Pan-African leaders, a market economy was a zero-sum game in which Africans had no chance to win. Therefore, they believed the command economy, also known as the soviet-style economy, will prioritize the development of Africans over serving wealthy nations. The command economy though proved to be a very inefficient economic system to rely on. In such a system, businesses were state-owned. African governments controlled almost every sector of their economy from agriculture to manufacturing to servicing. The centralization of power led to the rise of many autocratic regimes, corruption, and the accentuation of poverty in local communities.
The fundamental reason why Africa remains underdeveloped is no longer because of colonization. This justification is clearly outdated and is only used as a pretext or scapegoat by African governments to avoid taking responsibility for their mismanagement of public resources. The true reasons why Africa remains the most underdeveloped continent are because: (1) African countries do not manufacture their own goods into finished products, (2) the lack of strong political institutions to ascertain the rule of law, (3) the lack of free trade between African countries. Indeed, African countries lack the infrastructure necessary to transform their raw materials into consumer goods. They only sell their raw materials to industrialized nations, for a profit. The industrialized nations, in turn, manufacture these raw materials into consumer goods and sell them back to African countries at a higher price to make a profit on their initial investment. As a result, African countries end up spending more on these consumer goods. Since they do not have the technological capabilities to transform their own raw materials, therefore they could not dictate their price. The industrialized nations are the ones who do dictate price because they are the ones transforming these raw materials into consumer goods, and therefore giving economic value and utility to these goods.
Africa is a continent full of growth and business opportunities. Many Lebanese who have settled in Africa, have built their fortune in African markets. A new form of colonization has taken place over the last twenty years. This time, the new colonization that is taking place is not a political colonization as it was during the European colonization of Africa, where European nations sought to implement an entire political ecosystem to govern the colonies. This new colonization is an economic colonization; a type of colonization strictly dedicated to the acquisition of economic resources at a discount. This type of colonization has been perpetrated by the Chinese. Indeed, many Chinese people are settling in Africa and are starting to own resources that they could not own in their own motherland. Most Africans are aware of what is going on, but some remain passive rather than being active and stepping up into the economic game. Chinese are flooding the African market progressively, and they are even marrying African people to fully immerse themselves in African culture in order to control many aspects of the African market. Many Africans have immersed themselves in African markets but this is not enough. If Africans do not create large corporations that could decisively influence African markets; if Africans do not manufacture their own raw materials, there is a strong chance then that Africans may lose another colonial battle, and this time, the African continent won’t be owned by Africans but by the Chinese.