What is Brown's real agenda in Africa?

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Africa can lead the global economic recovery and called for more African representation at the IMF, World Bank and G20 in a lofty speech which can only mean one thing, Africa and its resources is about to be exploited by the West once again.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a seemingly wonderful speech to African leaders at a summit in Kampala, Uganda. Brown called for greater representation of African countries at the IMF, World Bank and G20. He also said that Africa could lead the world economic recovery as forecasters predicted that African countries were set to have a higher economic growth this year than the West.

Brown called for Africans to lead the global agenda and even said that this could be an African century.

It would be nice to think that when Western leaders visit poorer regions of the world that they mean well and their intentions are sincere but unfortunately the truth is ugly and international politics is often ruthless.

Brown’s agenda is clearly about Britain exploiting African resources, a term he refers to as “…investment in the private sector from African and foreign sources.” (AFP: 24 July)

The key to unmasking Brown’s agenda is the last part of his quote where he mentions investment in the private sector, which means a British company owning African resources. Brown is effectively encouraging privatisation in Africa. This is not a speech aimed at African growth, it is a speech promoting British economic growth over the interests of Africans.

In February 2006, Andrew Buncombe wrote an article for the Independent, titled ‘African bio-resources exploited by West‘. In this article Buncombe explained how Western multinational companies were making millions of pounds from exploiting African bio-resources.

African resources are being pillaged by Western companies to provide cures for impotence in the West as well as make designer jeans and according to Buncombe the countries where the resources are being taken from are not being paid a pittance.

Beth Burrows, of the US-based Edmonds Institute referred to this as “…a new form of colonial pillaging.” (Buncombe: 17 February, 2006)

Ironically, the very country in which Brown gave his speech is being exploited by the British company SR Pharma which holds patents for a mycobacterium collected in Uganda and used to develop a treatment for chronic viral infections and HIV.

SR Pharma does not pay Uganda any money claiming that the drug does not make any profits despite the fact that they raised $20 million to fund the research.

This is what SR Pharma’s director Melvyn Davies, told the Independent, “If you pick up a natural substance from the street, does that mean it belongs to the country in which you found it? [Our researcher] just happened to be in Uganda. The issue is not about where the source was but the work that has been done to develop it. Should Uganda share in the profits that will be generated if [it did not invest in the development]?

It would be interesting to see whether a Ugandan pharmaceutical could claim the same defence if it found a resource on British soil.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo a conflict over resources has left  5.4 million people dead, and all over the  resources which are needed to manufacture the luxuries which people in the West buy such as  mobile phones, MP3 players, DVD players, computers and video games etc., which fuel the conflict in this region of Africa and Western corporations are at the centre of the conflict benefiting from the resources.

A UN investigation found that the war was led by “armies of business” plundering the natural resources needed to manufacture the electrical goods in high demand in rich countries.(Leahy: IPS: December 3, 2008)

Is this Brown’s vision of an ‘African century’?

In a time of global recession the West is turning its eyes towards African resources as a means to aid their own faltering economies and once again lofty speech hides the hidden agenda of Western leaders in the African continent.

African people should see behind Gordon Brown’s visit to the continent and refuse his deceptive agenda.

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