The role for which Africa has been ascribed by the masters of the Western capitalist economy is as a supplier of cheap resources and cheap labour. And keeping this labour, and these resources, cheap depends primarily on one thing: ensuring that Africa remains underdeveloped and impoverished. If it were to become more prosperous, wages would rise; if it were to become more technologically developed, it would be able to add value to its raw materials through the manufacturing process before exporting them, forcing up the prices paid. Meanwhile, extracting stolen oil and minerals depends on keeping African states weak and divided. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example – whose mines produce tens of billions of mineral resources each year – were only, in one recent financial year, able to collect a paltry $32million in tax revenues from mining due to the proxy war waged against that country by Western-backed militias.
Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo are ravaged by armed militias who steal the country’s resources and sell them at sub-market prices to Western companies, with most of these militias run by neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi who are in turn sponsored by the West, as regularly highlighted in UN reports. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are the pitifully low prices paid both for African raw materials and for the labour that mines, grows or picks them, which effectively amount to an African subsidy for Western living standards and corporate profits.
Developing Algeria as a major natural gas exporter is an economic and strategic imperative for EU countries as North Sea production of the commodity enters terminal decline in the next decade. Algeria is already an important energy supplier to the Continent, but Europe will need expanded access to natural gas to offset the decline of its indigenous reserves. British and Dutch North Sea gas reserves are estimated to run out by the end of the decade, and Norway’s to go into sharp decline from 2015 onwards. With Europe fearful of overdependence on gas from Russia and Asia, Algeria – with reserves of natural gas estimated at 4.5 trillion cubic metres, alongside shale gas reserves of 17 trillion cubic meters – will become essential