Madi Jobarteh

(JollofNews) – The current situation in Gunjur regarding the Golden Lead factory is the same old story that has been wreaking havoc in Africa since independence.

The Gambia and Africa do not need China or the US or EU for our development. Instead they need us more because we have the resources. For example, every year China imposes a three-month ban on fishing in its waters to allow their fish to regenerate because they have depleted their fish stock. This is why the Chinese are fishing all over Africa and they will continue do so if we allow them until they deplete our fish reserves completely. Does our government know this? Or they just do not care, just like their counterparts in Nigeria, Angola, Chad, Cameroun, Niger, Gabon, Zambia and many others?

For example in Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company has been mining petroleum since 1958 in the Niger Delta and causing massive environmental damage. In 2011, UN Environment Program said the oil spill caused in that region would take 25 to 30 years to clean up costing 1 billion US dollars. But since 1958, government after government in Nigeria allowed Shell to destroy Nigerian lives and livelihoods and the environment with impunity.

In fact it got to a point where Shell was buying arms and uniforms for the Nigerian Army. Because of the corruption of Shell, the Nigerian Dictator Sani Abacha executed nine Ogoni environmental activists of the Niger Delta including Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995. Yet until today Shell continues to exploit petroleum in the region and damaging the environment. The most insulting reality is that Shell makes more money in Nigeria than the Nigerian government does!

I have written many years ago in my reaction to the national blueprint PAGE in 2012 that the Kanilai Farms model is the right model for Gambia to follow for our development. If one man as president could seize public and private lands and invest public resources in it and then make citizens work on it as his personal farming company that is yielding huge produce, why cannot that be the roadmap for the country? Kanilai Farms has shown that if our government pursues such a program at the local and national level with the same commitment, surely the Gambia can produce enough food and industrialize. Agriculture is the basis of industrialization everywhere in history. Because Yaya Jammeh was dishonest and greedy, he personalized such a program, which should have been a national program.

Therefore let us tell Adama Barrow that we do not need Golden Lead Company. What we need is a clear government program, well managed and with the right political will to invest in our agriculture in all forms to create jobs and wealth for our youth and people. Our ocean is rich and Gambians must be the people fishing there for our own.

What we need is a national fishing company with boats and massive storage facilities that employs all of our youth. Such a company can satisfy the seafood needs of Gambians with enough to export to the rest of the world. This is what we need, and not a foreign company, which only makes super profits, yet damages our livelihoods and our environment just like Shell is doing in Nigeria. Are we stupid?

While Africa is the world’s most endowed region with natural and mineral resources, yet a whopping 408, 213, 640 people, i.e. almost half of the continent’s population lives in extreme poverty. Seventy five percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa. The World Bank says while the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen in most countries of the world yet it is rising in many Sub-Saharan African countries.

Development data show that the rest of the world mainly the EU, US and China benefit more from Africa’s resources than Africans themselves. For example, the EU makes nothing less than $150 billion dollars in Africa every year. The US makes nothing less than $100 billion out of Africa annually, while China collects at least $200 billion in trade a year in Africa.

Experts have reported that in 2014 Africa – the home of coffee – earned nearly $2.4 billion from the crop, yet Germany, a leading processor, earned about $3.8 billion from coffee re-exports. The reality of this despicable fact lies in the weak and corrupt leadership on the continent amidst an unfair global trade environment. Hence another telling manifestation of this despicable reality lies in the incredible amount of capital flight from the continent. A 2015 UN/AU report on capital flight put the average financial losses at between $50 billion and $148 billion from the continent a year through trade mispricing and tax evasion by foreign companies.

Foreign companies like Golden Lead or Shell do not usually declare their full profits and the total amount of resources they exploit hence we invoice them less all the time. What these facts show is that foreign investment, aid and the current unfair global trade have never benefited Africa since independence. While all regions and countries of the world particularly the US, EU and China seek to protect their economies and natural resources for themselves, it is only Africa that has always opened its legs wide open for any rapist to enter us.

Sadly and shamefully, we have our own politicians and intellectuals in charge of our governments who serve as the foot soldiers for these foreign exploiters against their own people. Our own leaders and governments allow multinational companies to come into Africa to not only loot our resources, but also pay our people pittance, while destroying our environment. Our governments are so weak and misguided that they impose limited taxes on these foreign companies with low social and environmental standards that they do not even enforce fully. In this way our governments therefore effectively mortgage the future of their own people for chicken change.

The question therefore is why do our leaders and governments continue to fail in exploiting the resources of Africa on their own as other countries of the world are doing for themselves. The Gulf States of Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were poor countries like any African country 50 years ago. But today, they have transformed their societies into one of the most developed places because they took charge of their resources on their own. Today everyone admires Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait City and Riyadh. Yet Africa has more natural and mineral resources than these countries combined. Why have we failed to exploit our own resources therefore but think that some aliens will come from outside to exploit our resources for our development? Such a mentality is the most stupid and irresponsible any human being can harbour!

If we are not careful, Africa shall be enslaved and colonized again very soon, and this time by the combined forces of US, EU and China! Time will tell.

God Bless The Gambia and Africa!