Economic lessons for Africa from ‘Operation Korosho’

Wednesday December 5 2018

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer based in

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer based in Canada 

Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, wanted Africa to have its own cartels for its produce as a way of controlling its own economy and getting away with colonialism, economic colonialism and dependency. Actually, Nkrumah wanted to start with cocoa, Ghana’s chief product. Nkrumah says that Africa is a paradox, which illustrates and highlights neo-colonialism. Its soil is rich, yet the products that come from above and below the soil continue to enrich, not Africans predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa’s impoverishment.

For Nkrumah, Africa’s development and true freedom revolve around, among others, economics. His slant, however, was socialism, which gave him a bad name and his caused his betrayal by some of his own people. He was toppled by the West as a strategy to safeguard its interests in Africa. The East, under the then USSR, didn’t help.

Now over 50 years down the line, President John Magufuli seems to have rekindled Nkrumah’s dream for the economic decolonisation of Africa. Will Africa take note?

His recent ‘Operation Korosho’ speaks volumes on this. Although there are some doubts and worries about the stance Magufuli took, at least there’s some good news, and lessons altogether.

One of them is the fact that Africa lacks leadership that’s self-confident. Magufuli’s move shook the world cashew market though temporarily. How’d it be shaken had all African cashew producing countries follow suit? Although the so-called world markets tend to bully Africa, they inescapably depend on it.

The Kenyan Standard (Nov. 23, 2018) quotes Michael Stevens, a commodities trader at Scotland-based Freeworld Trading, as saying that “the price of the commodity has risen to $3.80 per pound from $3.50 in the last seven to 10 days” after Magufuli started Operation Korosho. However, the price is likely to fall after bigger producers start harvesting their nuts.

The second big and important lesson we need to learn from Magufuli’s stance is the fact that Africa still needs the cartelisation of its produces. And this needs a daring spirit. To know what Africa needs to do that it was supposed to do just soon after gaining independence as Nkrumah envisaged, consider the following scenarios.

Consider the humongous share of minerals an other raw materials that Africa produces and supplies to the world. What do you see? Of course, you see the same grungy picture. All the so-called international-cum-world markets of our minerals are in either America or European capitals!

Con men and con women in Brussels, Paris, Rome, London and elsewhere who pretend to know more about, for instance, tanzanite (a precious stone only mined in Tanzania only on earth), gold or diamond get away with a lion share of profits while our people are sinking in penury.

Don’t forget their ever corrupt and narcissistic nephews in the upper echelons of power in Africa from whom Magufuli’s identified himself.

Africa must form cartels for its minerals and other products in order to control their supply based on the demand the way the Gulf States and other oil producing countries do with their oil under the Organisation of Petroleum Countries (OPEC). Our minerals and resources are our oil. Our fertile soil is our oil. Thus, we need to use whatever comes out of it to our advantages and needs. This is what economic decolonisation means for Africa shall it start thinking positively.

We don’t need the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank to see and underscore this thorny fact. We all hear all brouhahas of free market and free trade. How free are the markets and trade if at all one portion of the globe has been exploiting another for decades?

Ironically, when it comes to stuffs like automobiles, chemicals, machines you name it that Africa imports, the situation is the same.

Again, these folks are swindling and exploiting Africa fully well know that Africa produces what it can’t eat and eats what it can’t produce like a chicken. In a simple parlance, Africa’s like a chicken on the table before Western countries. A chicken can be robbed of its eggs. Yet, it can’t free itself from such brutal life.

For, it’s nowhere to go apart from having a small cranium and small brains to conceive emancipation. The chicken’s always a dupe. For, despite being robbed of its chicks or eggs, it keeps on wondering around the table where its chicks or eggs are eaten just like African rulers do by spending much time and money begging from the table whereat their resources and toils are eaten. Look at it this way as far as neocolonialism based on exploitation works. It isn’t a big deal to grow or sell products in Western countries where farmers enjoy subsidies and stable markets. But doing the same in Africa is but a headache. These guys benefit in two way-traffic-like business.

If anything, what Magufuli did is what’s been missing in Africa’s economic practices and psyche. It’s time Africa had its own cartels, and Magufuli has shown the way.

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