The western, capitalist narrative that Agriculture will save Africa is false and misleading. No nation has ever become developed by focusing on subsistence farming or Agriculture. The surest way to wealth creation is MANUFACTURING. Africa is the only continent that exports over 80% of its raw materials, either willingly or by force.
Therefore, Africa is the world’s largest producer of wealth for everyone on earth-except its own people.
I hear a lot of people say that the new source of wealth in Africa is digital wealth, information communication technology, internet, and mobile banking technology. Do not be deceived by such a false premise. The foundation of the so-called information technology of today is manufacturing. For every dollar that Africa makes from Mobile phone technology and the internet, she generates at least ten thousand dollars for the rest of the world. For the ‘developed’ countries of the world to sustain their growth, they need unhindered access to Africa’s raw materials.
As we speak, hundreds of thousands of Congolese children work themselves to death in Congolese mines where they mine cobalt, earning one dollar a day. Cobalt is used in making the lithium batteries that power your mobile phones and cameras.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s largest producer of Coltan. Coltan is essential in the production of mobile phones and tantalum capacitors that are used in almost every kind of electronic device. Approximately 80% of the world’s supply of Coltan is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For the world to keep enjoying mobile phone technology, it must have unhindered access to tantalum from Congo. For your information, Congo is among the world’s poorest countries.
Niger Republic and Namibia are among the world’s top producers of uranium. They are also among the world’s poorest. Niger alone supplies France with the uranium required to power up their nuclear programme and power stations – generating almost 80% of France’s electricity via an estimated 59 nuclear plants. One out of every three light bulbs that are lit in France is thanks to the uranium from Niger republic. However, in Niger, nearly 90% of the population has no access to electricity. For France to keep growing, it must have unhindered access to uranium from Niger republic.
Over 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, which is exported. The world’s chocolate business is valued at over 120 billion dollars annually and is expected to grow up to 170 billion dollars by 2024. Yes, it is the cocoa from Africa that powers the worlds profitable chocolate business. For the world to keep enjoying chocolate and make money from it, it must have unhindered access to Africa’s cocoa. For every 100 dollars that Africa makes from the sales of cocoa, she generates at least 50,000 dollars, not for her people, but for the rest of the world.
Ghana and Ivory Coast account for almost 70% of global cocoa bean exports. In 2019 alone Ghana exported around 900,000 tons! Cocoa farmers in Ghana receive 480 cedis (86 euro) per bag, which amounts to an annual income of 500 euros for one hectare. Ghana earns some 2 billion dollars annually from exportation of cocoa, while the chocolate industry, which depends on Ghana’s cocoa beans, earns over 120 billion dollars annually. The average life expectancy for farmers in Ghana is said to be 53 years.
Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, a former colony until ‘Independence’ in 1960, has wrestled with civil unrest and increasing poverty rates for years. In 2015, poverty in the Ivory Coast was as high as 46.3 percent. Ivory coast is also among the world’s top exporter of raw cashew nuts. In 2018, Ivory Coast was ranked 165 out of 189 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The Ivory Coast continues to be the world’s largest producer of cocoa, with an estimated 2.12 million metric tons for 2020’s harvest.
The top four countries responsible for the manufacturing of chocolate are the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. They are also among the richest countries in the world, with an average life expectancy of 80 years. The more cocoa Ivory coast produces and exports, the more the economy of the rich countries grow. Good news, life expectancy in Ivory increased from 56 years in 2017 to 57 in 2019!
Cameroon’s East region, with the North and far North, is the richest in forest and mining resources. Ironically, it is also the poorest. Nicknamed ‘the mini Africa’ because of its rich cultural and biodiversity, Cameroon has one of the highest literary rates in Africa. However, its economic progress has been hampered by corruption and decades of authoritarian rule.
The bitter war in Cameroon is a battle for sovereignty between the Francophone region, which was formally a French colony, and the Anglophone region, which was formally ruled by the British, and forcefully merged together as one country led and dominated by French-speaking Cameroonians. They have ruled the country in an authoritarian way since the unification of the two former United Nations trusteeship territories – French Cameroun and British Southern Cameroons – in 1961.
Cameroons current president, Paul Biya, has been in power since 1982, making him the second-longest-ruling president in Africa (after Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea), the longest-ruling non-royal leader in the world, and the oldest head-of-state in Africa, at 87 years of age. His regime is supported by France, which supplies it with weapons and trains its forces. France is Cameroons’ leading foreign investor, followed by the United States. More than one hundred French companies are located in all key economic sectors of Cameroon (oil, timber, mobile telephony, transport, banking, insurance, mining etc.), with focus on exportation, not manufacturing.
The story is the same all over Africa, from Nigeria to Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Senegal, and others. The best way out of this bondage is to have a United people of Africa, who can see through the man-made political, economic and epistemic chains that hinder their progress, and together as one people, confront them. After all, the greatest enemy of freedom is a happy slave.
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Fr. Anselm Adodo is a catholic priest and director of one of Africa’s largest phytomedicine company, called paxherbals, and Director of Pax Centre for Integral Research and Development. His most recent books include ‘The Idea of the Communiversity’ (Beacon academic, 2019), and ‘Healing Plants of Nigeria’ (Routledge, 2020). Anselm is a visiting lecturer at Nigeria’s premier University of Ibadan, Nigeria, a Fellow of the Nigeria society of Botanists and an adjunct research fellow of Nigeria Institute of medical Research.