Friday, February 09, 2018

World Bank Leeches

A new World Bank reports documents the continent’s impoverishment by rampant minerals, oil and gas extraction — but the bank enforces policies that feed it. Africa desperately needs diversification from mining, but governments remain influenced by trans-national corporations intent on extraction. Even within the World Bank such bias is evident, as the case of Zambia shows.World Bank staff work not in Zambians’ interests, but on behalf of other international banks and trans-national corporations. From 2002-08, Zambia’s president Levy Mwanawasa came under severe privatisation pressure from the World Bank so as to repay older loans, including those taken out by his corrupt predecessor, Frederick Chiluba. That debt should have been repudiated and cancelled.

When privatising Africa’s largest copper mine, Konkola, Mwanawasa should have received $400m for Zambia’s treasury. But the buyer, Vedanta CEO Anil Agarwal, bragged to a 2014 investment conference in Bangalore how he tricked Mwanawasa into accepting only $25m. "It’s been nine years and, since then, every year it is giving us a minimum of $500m to $1bn."

From 1990-2015 many African countries suffered massive shrinkage in adjusted net savings, including Angola (68% of its wealth), the Republic of the Congo (49%) and Equatorial Guinea (39%).
There are two ways to address trans-national corporations’ capture of African mineral wealth: bottom-up through direct action to block extraction, or top-down through reforms. The latter is exemplified by the African Union’s 2009 alternative mining vision (AMV).
It proclaims, "Arguably the most important vehicle for building local capital are the foreign resource investors — trans-national corporations — who have the requisite capital, skills and expertise."
South African activist Chris Rutledge opposed this neo-liberal logic in a 2017 ActionAid report titled, The AMV: Are we repackaging a colonial paradigm?
"By ramping up models of maximum extraction, the AMV once again stands in direct opposition to our own priorities to ensure resilient livelihoods and securing climate justice. And it does not address the structural causes of structural violence experienced by women, girls and affected communities," it says.

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