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Niger and the collapse of France’s empire Western intervention could soon backfire

Protesters cheer Nigerien troops (AFP via Getty Images)

Protesters cheer Nigerien troops (AFP via Getty Images)


August 8, 2023   6 mins

First, there was Mali; then came Burkina Faso. Today, in the epic saga that is the anti-Western revolt sweeping across the Sahel, it is the turn of Niger to play the protagonist — the third country to suffer a coup in just three years. On 26 July, a military putsch led by general Abdourahamane Tchiani deposed the country’s pro-Western president Mohamed Bazoum, elected in 2021 amid allegations of fraud and protests.

In each of these coups, the military officers involved cited the same reasons for seizing power: mounting concerns about a surge in terrorism and chronic social and economic underdevelopment. Despite being one of the world’s richest regions in terms of natural resources, including oil, gold and uranium, the Sahel is also one of the poorest financially. Niger is a striking example: it is one of the world’s leading exporters of uranium, yet consistently ranks towards the bottom of the Human Development Index.

In the eyes of these countries’ new leaders and their supporters, much of the responsibility for this lies with one villain in particular: France. They are, after all, all former French colonies, part of what used to be known as Françafrique. And more than any other imperial power, France has continued to exercise a huge influence over its former outposts, replacing outright colonial rule with more subtle forms of neocolonial control — first and foremost with currency.

Before Africa’s decolonisation in the Fifties and Sixties, it was common among Western powers to impose forms of monetary subservience on their respective colonies. The latter were generally forced to use currencies issued and controlled by the imperial centres, to ensure the European countries’ economic control and financial benefit. France was no exception; rather, what set France apart from other imperial powers was the fact that its monetary empire survived decolonisation. While most African colonies, upon becoming independent, adopted national currencies, France managed to cajole most of its former outposts in Central and Western Africa into maintaining the colonial currency: the CFA franc.

In the decades that followed, various countries tried to abandon the CFA system, but very few succeeded. As the Senegalese economist Ndongo Samba Sylla and the French journalist Fanny Pigeaud write in their book Africa’s Last Colonial Currency (which I translated), France did everything it could to discourage countries from leaving the CFA: “Intimidations, destabilisation campaigns and even assassinations and coups d’état marked this period, testifying to the permanent and unequal power relations on which the relationship between France and its ‘partners’ in Africa was based — and is still based today.”

The CFA franc, as a result, continues to be used by 14 countries, mostly former French colonies, throughout Central and Western Africa — including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Together, they form the so-called “franc zone”, with France still playing a central role. Despite the formal “Africanisation” of this group, which involved transferring the headquarters of the CFA franc’s two central banks to the African continent, France continues to enjoy far-reaching control over the system — and the countries that employ it.

“More than simply a currency,” Sylla and Pigeaud write, “the CFA franc allows France to manage its economic, monetary, financial and political relations with some of its former colonies according to a logic functional to its interests.” They contend that the CFA franc represents a form of “monetary imperialism”, which hinders the development of African economies and keeps them subservient to France.

Consider Niger: the country is France’s biggest source of uranium (providing around 20% of its supply), which is needed to fuel the nuclear plants which provide roughly 70% of the country’s electricity. Yet, only one in seven Nigeriens (and just 4% of rural residents) have access to modern electricity services, while more than 40% of the population live in extreme poverty. Just as strikingly, 85% of the company that operates Niger’s uranium industry is owned by France’s Atomic Energy Commission and two French companies; only 15% is owned by Niger’s government.

The CFA system, and the lack of monetary and economic sovereignty it entails, is central to this systematic plundering of resources — in Niger and elsewhere in the Sahel. Of the 10 countries with the world’s lowest Human Development Index, five are part of the franc zone, including the three that have experienced recent coups.

Nor is France’s control over the franc zone limited to economic tools. Niger is also France’s main Sahelian military base, hosting around 1,500 French soldiers. To further complicate matters, the country is also home to around 1,000 US soldiers, one of the largest contingents of American troops on the African continent, operating under the umbrella of the United States Africa Command (Africom). Since 2013, the US has also been carrying out drone missions from several bases in Niger — including a recently constructed $110-million installation. For both France and the US, the purported objective is to fight Islamic terrorism; the reality, however, is that despite this massive foreign military presence, security in Niger and other countries has deteriorated over the years — as have their economic prospects.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Africa’s newest military juntas have singled out France as the main target of their ire. In Mali, the current military leader Assimi Goïta expelled the French army, cut diplomatic ties and even banned French as an official language. In Burkina Faso, the young revolutionary leader Ibrahim Traoré also expelled French troops and banned several exports.

For Sylla, this amounts to nothing less than “a second national liberation movement, which aims to bring to completion the decolonisation process which began in the Fifties and Sixties in Francophone Africa”. While the first stage of this process was about obtaining political independence from the West, this latest stage is about obtaining economic sovereignty and independence. This is why, as a recent United Nations report noted, popular support for these new military governments can be understood as being “symptomatic of a new wave of democratic aspiration that is expanding across the continent”. As Sylla told me: “In many of these countries, the militaries are seen as leaders upholding their nations’ sovereignty and independence, as opposed to elected governments, which tend to be puppets of the West and have done nothing to challenge the neocolonial order throughout the years.”

But what does this mean for Niger? For now, the country appears to be moving in the same direction as Mali and Burkina Faso. While the new government has stopped short (for now) of telling foreign troops to leave the country, it has revoked a raft of military cooperation agreements with France, closed the country’s airspace — effectively bringing to a halt US drone operations — and announced it is suspending the export of uranium to France. In response, thousands of people have taken to the streets to show their support, burning French flags and even attacking the French embassy. “Since childhood, I’ve been opposed to France,” a local businessman told the BBC. “They’ve exploited all the riches of my country such as uranium, petrol and gold. The poorest Nigeriens are unable to eat three times a day because of France.”

As if to prove his point, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) — a political and economic union of 15 countries located in West Africa which has the support of the West — immediately placed sanctions on Niger, suspending all commercial and financial transactions between Niger and Ecowas countries and, even more ominously, freezing Niger’s assets deposited in the central and commercial banks of Ecowas. The reason they can do this is precisely because Ecowas contains the West African Economic and Monetary Union, which issues the currency used by Niger, and is largely under France’s control. This allows France to weaponise the CFA franc against any government that poses a problem for it within the franc zone. The EU has also reacted punitively, suspending aid and cooperation with Niger despite it being one of the poorest countries in the world.

More worryingly, the West African bloc said it would “take all measures necessary”, including the use of force, if the elected government was not reinstated within a week. That deadline expired on Sunday and no action was taken, but the threat has not been retracted. They are due to meet on Thursday to decide what happens next. Meanwhile, France, the EU and the US have all offered “unflagging” support to the ousted leader, and have backed Ecowas’s stance. This follows a decade of France using military force to defend its interests in Francophone Africa, intervening in the Ivory Coast, Mali and Chad.

But this is more than just a story about France’s waning hegemony and US military presence in the region. The Nigerien coup also threatens a $13-billion dollar project to build a gas pipeline connecting gas fields in Nigeria to Europe, which would pass straight through Niger. Following the EU’s decision to wean itself off Russian gas last year, this venture is arguably more urgent than ever.

The Nigerien military regime, for its part, has warned that any foreign military intervention in the country would result in a “massacre”, while Mali and Burkina Faso have both come out in support of the new government. Any military intervention, they warned in a joint statement, “would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali”, and “could destabilise the entire region”. Moreover, given Russia’s strong ties with the putschist governments, a Western-backed attack on Niger could easily mutate into what Colin P. Clarke has described as “a regional proxy war”, with Russia and the Wagner Group supporting Niger (and Burkina Faso and Mali), and Western countries supporting Ecowas.

All of which feeds into fears that we are on the verge of a new scramble for Africa, with Russia, China and the West vying for influence over this immensely resource-rich, young continent predicted to be the next frontier of growth. If this logic prevails, however, it will be a disaster for Africa. For as hard as it may be to fathom, Western countries — and France in particular — should accept that this anti-Western trend has much less to do with recent foreign influence than with historical grievances against long-running neocolonial practices. Any attempt to counter it with the same old recipe — financial blackmail and military force — will only strengthen the rebels’ resolve.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Steven Targett
Steven Targett
11 months ago

Having witnessed the corruption in West Africa first hand; its endemic. The governments of the region have had more than 50 years to develop and have all failed. How much of this is due to meddling by former colonial powers is open to debate and undoubtedly some is but even so the lack of development is more due to excessive tribalism and corruption. Democracy is not necessarily the answer for countries with no history of it but rooting out corruption is essential and its not going to happen anytime soon because it is so entrenched from top to bottom.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
11 months ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Well said. Too easy to blame French involvement when one is dealing with a multitude of local factors routinely ignored by the current western elite. Such scepticism is only rendered more important in an age when that western elite is entirely possessed by an inverted messiah complex, under the terms of which anything which goes wrong – but anything – must be blamed on Europe or the west.

Akovi Gunn
Akovi Gunn
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

We, the people of West Africa blame the colonial powers for the corruption you are talking about in your comment.
How many of our past and present leaders are truly elected by their people? We blame the colonial powers , specifically France when it comes to Francophone Africa, for using it’s military to support and in most cases maintain poorly elected Presidents against the will of their people.
How many of the leaders in our region really enjoy the legitimacy of their population? I can give you numerous examples of past and present leaders who have managed to stay in power as long as they have, simply because they (had) have the support of the French government and it’s military.
French government and its military have never been a force for good nowhere in Africa, and of course with the complecity of our poorly elected presidents. What is happening in Niger and by extension in most of Francophone Africa needs to be read through the lens of economical liberation. It is a liberation movement that needs to be supported by all the people of good will.
When former French president, Jacques Chirac declared on national television that <> and you want us to believe that we are poor because there is corruption? Who is doing the corruption in our countries? When you have a French multinational financing election campaigns of our so called presidents ? ( Talking about Bolloré group)
Do you think France loves democracy? Or the US for that matter?
This is a liberation movement, a second liberation movement, and good people everywhere need to support it.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Fine. We’ll leave it to you. No more “aid”, no more advice, no more involvement of any kind. Let’s see how you get on. But be warned: if talk of “economic liberation” imports yet another experiment with Marxism, you’ll merely renew the basket case conditions you blame on France. And then there’s Islam, not to mention China. Who is going to stop them? And are you so sure that your governmental class will be immune to those influences?

Akovi Gunn
Akovi Gunn
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Fact:: African countries have been receiving this so called western aids since 1960’s and it doesn’t seem to be improving the lives of the people, we are still the poorest people in the world, despite having one of the richest continent in terms of mineral resources.
Either our begging bowl licks or that the so called western aid is really meant to keep us in a constant begging condition.
Aid that does not helps the ones at the recipient end becomes autonomous is not a good aid.
I for one do not think aid is what our countries need.

Fact: The current Islamist insurgency that the sahel countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger , Tchad ) And recently northern Togo, Benin, have been dealing with since 2011 find its origin from the destruction of Libyan state by western countries. They went and destroyed that country , destroyed all the institutions of the country while telling us they want to bring democracy. Look at the state of Libya today. So, yes, some of us would appreciate it if they stay out of our affairs.

Fact: At some point, until the expulsion of French army from Mali last year, by the Malian military government, that country was one of the most militarized country in the world. The French had their army base there , the UN has its forces there, West African states have military forces there, the US has its special forces there, but despite the presence of all those military forces, the ISIS of this world have managed to take control of over 70% of the country.
What are all those military forces doing there?

I personally do not have any issue with China, as long as it brings a little bit of prosperity to our people. Obviously we have tried capitalism and western democracy and none of them seems to work for us. We are still the poorest people in the world. Either we have bad and corrupt government and I would argue that we do, or the entire economic system wasn’t set up to favor us.
The fact remains that our region is still one of the poorest on the planet, with no access to electricity, no access to clean water, no access to food, non existent education system, no hospitals and above all our countries are recently been taken over by Islamic insurgency and you are telling me we shouldn’t try anything new?
Someone said, <>.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Well, you seem to have got one thing right: aid is worse than useless; it pauperises the recipient whilst impoverishing the giver.
But to say this was the intention, or that aid is the only reason for corruption and dependency is to say too much. Indeed it smacks of backward-looking resentment and a fatal belief that it’s all somebody else’s fault – the very root and origin of future failure.
For if, as you concede, aid breeds dependency and corruption then the answer can only lie in taking responsibility for oneself. I strongly doubt whether the flimsy, post-imperial involvement of France or any other western nation in the affairs of former colonies has more than marginal significance when set against this cardinal point.
After all, it’s not as if there aren’t abundant examples of ex-colonial possessions doing very nicely, despite truly catastrophic histories within living memory – catastrophes which unfolded after and not before the colonial powers had gone.
The real harpies preying upon Africa therefore are not the colonists or their ghostly successors; nor are they found on the European right; they are in fact the self-hating European left who encourage Africans to blame the past and take no responsibility for the future.

Akovi Gunn
Akovi Gunn
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Well, at this point I would like to rest my case.

Adrian Clark
Adrian Clark
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Your case is well made, thank you. The West Africans have not bèen left to their own devices to show that they are more than capable of resolving their differences and competing fairly with their neighbours. I trust the western powers less than African powers. It is an ancient civilisation which has been corrupted by Western hegemony. It is time to listen and not dictate. We should be asking how may we help please? If African leaders turn to China or Russia for that help we only have ourselves to blame.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clark

Most countries in Africa have “been left to their own devices” except in endlessly begging aid. Just look at the disastrous route South Africa is now taking. There is no ‘right to be wealthy’. Hard work, the right policies, meritocracy (the able qualified white manager above the poorly educated and over promoted black, if it comes to it). Building competent institutions and not populating their leadership with relatives of the president. Etc. These things can be done; but not in a few short decades any more than this happened in Europe.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clark

Most countries in Africa have “been left to their own devices” except in endlessly begging aid. Just look at the disastrous route South Africa is now taking. There is no ‘right to be wealthy’. Hard work, the right policies, meritocracy (the able qualified white manager above the poorly educated and over promoted black, if it comes to it). Building competent institutions and not populating their leadership with relatives of the president. Etc. These things can be done; but not in a few short decades any more than this happened in Europe.

Adrian Clark
Adrian Clark
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Your case is well made, thank you. The West Africans have not bèen left to their own devices to show that they are more than capable of resolving their differences and competing fairly with their neighbours. I trust the western powers less than African powers. It is an ancient civilisation which has been corrupted by Western hegemony. It is time to listen and not dictate. We should be asking how may we help please? If African leaders turn to China or Russia for that help we only have ourselves to blame.

Akovi Gunn
Akovi Gunn
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Well, at this point I would like to rest my case.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

It is the nature of aid.In the 19th century Britain set up RIEC to train engineers.
Royal Indian Engineering College – Wikipedia
Schumacher said ” Small is beautiful. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and he can feed himself. ”
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan championed eduction and Britain set up the first medical school in India in 1828, engineering colleges followed.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: The champion of education – The Core Indian
From 1945 devlopment had been run by impractical left wing middle class types. The first example was the LSE and Groundnuts Scheme of East Africa in the 1940s.
Since 1945s £Bs has gone in aid to developing nations where the ruling class has taken large chunks of money and impractical schemes constructed in wrong location- Ground Nut scheme be a good example .
Aid has created a massive employment scheme for impractical left wing middle class types in the West. No aid, not jobs for these people.
Solution
Train craftsmen and midwives/nurses in developing countries. Skills,- building- brickwork, carpentry, electricians, civil engineering. Train local midwives in western nursing and basic surgery. Teach basic surgery taught to military medics, especially Commandos.Develop farming skills- increase soil fertility, breed crops with higher protein, vitamin and mineral content, high disease and drought resistance, develop irrigation. Do for animals especially goats, sheep and chickens. Set up equivalent of Royal Indian Engineering College in West Africa. Army to take on infrastructure development , copy Roman Army/ Indian Army of up to 1947. Remember Chinese Communist Party have murdered 70M of their own people since 1949.The most important resources are ability, honesty and capacity for hard work.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Nothing has worked because your leadership has failed – many of these countries are kleptocracies. Not an Obama fan at all, but even he threatened to withhold aid should the illegal takings not stop. Find better people to lead. As mentioned a lot of this aid started in the 60’s when at the United Nations, Third World countries began to demand a ‘transfer of resources’ to them. Western liberal academics jumped on the bandwagon (John Galbraith for one).
The UN only exacerbated and abetted the financial shakedown – so I say dissolve the UN which is just a Third World ‘pity party’ – it no longer is doing used work.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cathy Carron
albert Perdue
albert Perdue
10 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

The wretched condition of most of Africa is of course owing to the wretched quality of its population.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Well, you seem to have got one thing right: aid is worse than useless; it pauperises the recipient whilst impoverishing the giver.
But to say this was the intention, or that aid is the only reason for corruption and dependency is to say too much. Indeed it smacks of backward-looking resentment and a fatal belief that it’s all somebody else’s fault – the very root and origin of future failure.
For if, as you concede, aid breeds dependency and corruption then the answer can only lie in taking responsibility for oneself. I strongly doubt whether the flimsy, post-imperial involvement of France or any other western nation in the affairs of former colonies has more than marginal significance when set against this cardinal point.
After all, it’s not as if there aren’t abundant examples of ex-colonial possessions doing very nicely, despite truly catastrophic histories within living memory – catastrophes which unfolded after and not before the colonial powers had gone.
The real harpies preying upon Africa therefore are not the colonists or their ghostly successors; nor are they found on the European right; they are in fact the self-hating European left who encourage Africans to blame the past and take no responsibility for the future.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

It is the nature of aid.In the 19th century Britain set up RIEC to train engineers.
Royal Indian Engineering College – Wikipedia
Schumacher said ” Small is beautiful. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and he can feed himself. ”
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan championed eduction and Britain set up the first medical school in India in 1828, engineering colleges followed.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: The champion of education – The Core Indian
From 1945 devlopment had been run by impractical left wing middle class types. The first example was the LSE and Groundnuts Scheme of East Africa in the 1940s.
Since 1945s £Bs has gone in aid to developing nations where the ruling class has taken large chunks of money and impractical schemes constructed in wrong location- Ground Nut scheme be a good example .
Aid has created a massive employment scheme for impractical left wing middle class types in the West. No aid, not jobs for these people.
Solution
Train craftsmen and midwives/nurses in developing countries. Skills,- building- brickwork, carpentry, electricians, civil engineering. Train local midwives in western nursing and basic surgery. Teach basic surgery taught to military medics, especially Commandos.Develop farming skills- increase soil fertility, breed crops with higher protein, vitamin and mineral content, high disease and drought resistance, develop irrigation. Do for animals especially goats, sheep and chickens. Set up equivalent of Royal Indian Engineering College in West Africa. Army to take on infrastructure development , copy Roman Army/ Indian Army of up to 1947. Remember Chinese Communist Party have murdered 70M of their own people since 1949.The most important resources are ability, honesty and capacity for hard work.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Nothing has worked because your leadership has failed – many of these countries are kleptocracies. Not an Obama fan at all, but even he threatened to withhold aid should the illegal takings not stop. Find better people to lead. As mentioned a lot of this aid started in the 60’s when at the United Nations, Third World countries began to demand a ‘transfer of resources’ to them. Western liberal academics jumped on the bandwagon (John Galbraith for one).
The UN only exacerbated and abetted the financial shakedown – so I say dissolve the UN which is just a Third World ‘pity party’ – it no longer is doing used work.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cathy Carron
albert Perdue
albert Perdue
10 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

The wretched condition of most of Africa is of course owing to the wretched quality of its population.

Akovi Gunn
Akovi Gunn
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Fact:: African countries have been receiving this so called western aids since 1960’s and it doesn’t seem to be improving the lives of the people, we are still the poorest people in the world, despite having one of the richest continent in terms of mineral resources.
Either our begging bowl licks or that the so called western aid is really meant to keep us in a constant begging condition.
Aid that does not helps the ones at the recipient end becomes autonomous is not a good aid.
I for one do not think aid is what our countries need.

Fact: The current Islamist insurgency that the sahel countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger , Tchad ) And recently northern Togo, Benin, have been dealing with since 2011 find its origin from the destruction of Libyan state by western countries. They went and destroyed that country , destroyed all the institutions of the country while telling us they want to bring democracy. Look at the state of Libya today. So, yes, some of us would appreciate it if they stay out of our affairs.

Fact: At some point, until the expulsion of French army from Mali last year, by the Malian military government, that country was one of the most militarized country in the world. The French had their army base there , the UN has its forces there, West African states have military forces there, the US has its special forces there, but despite the presence of all those military forces, the ISIS of this world have managed to take control of over 70% of the country.
What are all those military forces doing there?

I personally do not have any issue with China, as long as it brings a little bit of prosperity to our people. Obviously we have tried capitalism and western democracy and none of them seems to work for us. We are still the poorest people in the world. Either we have bad and corrupt government and I would argue that we do, or the entire economic system wasn’t set up to favor us.
The fact remains that our region is still one of the poorest on the planet, with no access to electricity, no access to clean water, no access to food, non existent education system, no hospitals and above all our countries are recently been taken over by Islamic insurgency and you are telling me we shouldn’t try anything new?
Someone said, <>.

harry storm
harry storm
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

No mention of the “Big Man” complex that plagues all of subsaharan Africa, which includes many countries with no colonial ties to France. Zimbabwe being an excellent case in point.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

Fine. We’ll leave it to you. No more “aid”, no more advice, no more involvement of any kind. Let’s see how you get on. But be warned: if talk of “economic liberation” imports yet another experiment with Marxism, you’ll merely renew the basket case conditions you blame on France. And then there’s Islam, not to mention China. Who is going to stop them? And are you so sure that your governmental class will be immune to those influences?

harry storm
harry storm
11 months ago
Reply to  Akovi Gunn

No mention of the “Big Man” complex that plagues all of subsaharan Africa, which includes many countries with no colonial ties to France. Zimbabwe being an excellent case in point.

Akovi Gunn
Akovi Gunn
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

We, the people of West Africa blame the colonial powers for the corruption you are talking about in your comment.
How many of our past and present leaders are truly elected by their people? We blame the colonial powers , specifically France when it comes to Francophone Africa, for using it’s military to support and in most cases maintain poorly elected Presidents against the will of their people.
How many of the leaders in our region really enjoy the legitimacy of their population? I can give you numerous examples of past and present leaders who have managed to stay in power as long as they have, simply because they (had) have the support of the French government and it’s military.
French government and its military have never been a force for good nowhere in Africa, and of course with the complecity of our poorly elected presidents. What is happening in Niger and by extension in most of Francophone Africa needs to be read through the lens of economical liberation. It is a liberation movement that needs to be supported by all the people of good will.
When former French president, Jacques Chirac declared on national television that <> and you want us to believe that we are poor because there is corruption? Who is doing the corruption in our countries? When you have a French multinational financing election campaigns of our so called presidents ? ( Talking about Bolloré group)
Do you think France loves democracy? Or the US for that matter?
This is a liberation movement, a second liberation movement, and good people everywhere need to support it.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
11 months ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Well said. Too easy to blame French involvement when one is dealing with a multitude of local factors routinely ignored by the current western elite. Such scepticism is only rendered more important in an age when that western elite is entirely possessed by an inverted messiah complex, under the terms of which anything which goes wrong – but anything – must be blamed on Europe or the west.

Steven Targett
Steven Targett
11 months ago

Having witnessed the corruption in West Africa first hand; its endemic. The governments of the region have had more than 50 years to develop and have all failed. How much of this is due to meddling by former colonial powers is open to debate and undoubtedly some is but even so the lack of development is more due to excessive tribalism and corruption. Democracy is not necessarily the answer for countries with no history of it but rooting out corruption is essential and its not going to happen anytime soon because it is so entrenched from top to bottom.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
11 months ago

Niger will stay poor if its new government and its supporters think this is of any relevance:

“France’s biggest source of uranium, which is needed to fuel the nuclear plants which provide roughly 70% of the country’s electricity. Yet, only one in seven Nigeriens have access to modern electricity services, while more than 40% of the population live in extreme poverty.”

It betrays a deep ignorance of how wealth is created. Anyone thinking like that isn’t going to make poor people better off, and are more than likely to make them poorer. Resources don’t make prosperous nations: the most prosperous nations often have very few resources. Social capital, low corruption, social cohesion, and capitalism are the bedrock of economic growth.

As for uranium, its ore is plentiful, and fuel manufacturing and fuel burn in reactors uses relatively small amounts of ore because – and this should be obvious – it is a nuclear reaction that unleashes the energy. For these reasons uranium mining is not going to make a significant improvement in the wealth of a poor country. It is a nice industry to have amongst many others, but in a low social capital, corrupt, divided, and now anti-capitalist country like Niger, it is more than likely to be destroyed.

The problem in Niger isn’t imperialism, it is Niger. Anyone saying the problem is imperialism is making Niger’s problem worse. The uncomfortable truth is Asia was a bigger part of the imperial economic project and yet is now the wealthiest continent on the planet.

Last edited 11 months ago by Nell Clover
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

That critique might easily apply to the Ukraine.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

While Ukraine was suffering from the Russian encouraged Kleptocracy of the Oligarchs there was an element of truth in what you say. However, Zelensky was elected on an anti corruption platform and despite the full scale war resulting from Putin’s invasion and occupation with its many attendant atrocities, those in Ukraine guilty of corruption are being investigated and prosecuted. Any assessment of the present level of corruption in Ukraine will be grossly inaccurate and posting comments using outdated data helps no one but Putin whose propaganda units are paid to post this disinformation daily.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Besides the impending prosecution of one Constantine Zhivago, I am unaware of any other major corruption trials.

Could you please perhaps enlighten me?

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
11 months ago

Joe and Hunter Biden, sometime in January 2025.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Thanks, I’d forgotten that one!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Thanks, I’d forgotten that one!

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
11 months ago

Joe and Hunter Biden, sometime in January 2025.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I love this meme. Corruption in Ukraine was the fault of Russia . Russia was a bad influence on Ukraine, etc. Who invents such poppycock? Presumably the various disinformation units in the UK. I worked in and with both countries. Everyday corruption in the Ukraine was of a different scale and type to Russia. And Poroshenko handed over control of the regions to the oligarchs, as I recall. I suppose when the Crown Agents pulled out of trying to help Ukraine by i.a. sending them medicines, and blamed the Ukraine customs for their endless demands for bribes, this was Putin’s fault. The EU task force set up to assist Ukraine after the 2014 coup were asto;oshed and dismayed at the day to day corruption at every level that they found. One has to ask,why is a country so rich in natural resources so poor? So undeveloped? Before the war over a million Ukrainians went to Poland for work. Etc.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Wellington said it was England’s religion which had made her a nation of honest men”. ” I would rather sacrifice Gwalior and every portion of India ten times over to preserve or credit for scrupulous good faith “.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Wellington said it was England’s religion which had made her a nation of honest men”. ” I would rather sacrifice Gwalior and every portion of India ten times over to preserve or credit for scrupulous good faith “.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Besides the impending prosecution of one Constantine Zhivago, I am unaware of any other major corruption trials.

Could you please perhaps enlighten me?

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I love this meme. Corruption in Ukraine was the fault of Russia . Russia was a bad influence on Ukraine, etc. Who invents such poppycock? Presumably the various disinformation units in the UK. I worked in and with both countries. Everyday corruption in the Ukraine was of a different scale and type to Russia. And Poroshenko handed over control of the regions to the oligarchs, as I recall. I suppose when the Crown Agents pulled out of trying to help Ukraine by i.a. sending them medicines, and blamed the Ukraine customs for their endless demands for bribes, this was Putin’s fault. The EU task force set up to assist Ukraine after the 2014 coup were asto;oshed and dismayed at the day to day corruption at every level that they found. One has to ask,why is a country so rich in natural resources so poor? So undeveloped? Before the war over a million Ukrainians went to Poland for work. Etc.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

While Ukraine was suffering from the Russian encouraged Kleptocracy of the Oligarchs there was an element of truth in what you say. However, Zelensky was elected on an anti corruption platform and despite the full scale war resulting from Putin’s invasion and occupation with its many attendant atrocities, those in Ukraine guilty of corruption are being investigated and prosecuted. Any assessment of the present level of corruption in Ukraine will be grossly inaccurate and posting comments using outdated data helps no one but Putin whose propaganda units are paid to post this disinformation daily.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Social capital, low corruption, social cohesion, and capitalism are the bedrock of economic growth.

Watch, as those valuable assets slowly diminish in our own country with the influx of third world vices – the reverse side of that cultural enrichment dividend immigration enthusiasts like to boast about.
Yes, the problem with Niger is Niger – but perhaps in 20 or so years they will be able to blame their failings on Russian or Chinese exploitation and stage another futile revolution.

Chipoko
Chipoko
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Well said!

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“Social capital, low corruption, social cohesion, and capitalism are the bedrock of economic growth.”
Utter nonsense! Some of us are old enough to recall the IMF, World Bank etc encouraging developing economies to disinvest in education, health, social welfare, devalue their currency to make their resources cheaper for western capital etc because, you know, the answer is always pushing free market solutions into every human problem! And look how well that turned out!
Even in the west, that model has been disastrous! To quote RobertDavie:
“In the immediate post-war decades the US was economically and politically at the leading edge of civilisation. According to Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian in their book, The Privatization of Everything, the government acted to ensure the nation’s prosperity in many ways, “The government built highways and dams, conducted research, increased its regulatory authority across an expanding horizon of activities, and gave money to state and local governments to support functions ranging from education to road-building. The workforce became more productive and living standards rose evenly across the board.”
https://prospect.org/culture/books/privatization-myth-cohen-mikaelian-review/
Then came the privatization agenda in the US that has transformed the country from a prosperous nation to one that is now in serious decline, “……… numerous examples and studies showing that private-sector managers have no compunction about adopting profit-making strategies that make essential services unaffordable or unavailable to large segments of the population. A profit-seeking operation may choose, for example, not to provide health care to the indigent, or extend education to poor or learning-disabled children, or deliver packages to remote destinations.”
https://prospect.org/culture/books/privatization-myth-cohen-mikaelian-review/
The extent of the extraction of wealth from the US alone is truly staggering, “In the past four decades—under Democrats and Republicans alike—$50 trillion has moved from the bottom 90 percent to the top 1 percent of Americans.”
…………………….……………………………………………………………
“And while this was happening, America’s middle class—the wonder of the world—was decimated. Two generations have grown to adulthood not even knowing what “middle class” means. Those generations have no conception of a time when factory workers could afford to own a home, two cars, send their kids to college, pay their medical bills, take a vacation, retire with dignity. What was once a normal and basic reality now seems like fantasy to people who have grown up in a work environment where the minimum wage today has half the buying power it did in 1968.””

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

I would like to see evidence of developing economies disinvesting in social areas at the behest of the WB. What a joke. All their aid was conditional on improvement in education, health and human rights. That is why the developing countries understandably prefer dealing with China’s extortionate loan arrangements, – no conditionalities. Western aid paid for programmes in education and health, which allowed the governments to spend their revenues on armies and arms, and themselves, of course.

Last edited 11 months ago by Anna Bramwell
B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I would like to see evidence of developing economies disinvesting in social areas at the behest of the WB. What a joke. 

Tell me you haven’t got the faintest idea what you’re talking about without saying so! Never heard of the economic structural adjustment programmes that have been visited on poor countries from the 80s onward? Clearly not even got a clue where the term ‘neoliberalism’ comes from!

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I would like to see evidence of developing economies disinvesting in social areas at the behest of the WB. What a joke. 

Tell me you haven’t got the faintest idea what you’re talking about without saying so! Never heard of the economic structural adjustment programmes that have been visited on poor countries from the 80s onward? Clearly not even got a clue where the term ‘neoliberalism’ comes from!

harry storm
harry storm
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

Re: even in the west that model has been disastrous.

As Douglas Murray would say, “compared to what?”

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

I would like to see evidence of developing economies disinvesting in social areas at the behest of the WB. What a joke. All their aid was conditional on improvement in education, health and human rights. That is why the developing countries understandably prefer dealing with China’s extortionate loan arrangements, – no conditionalities. Western aid paid for programmes in education and health, which allowed the governments to spend their revenues on armies and arms, and themselves, of course.

Last edited 11 months ago by Anna Bramwell
harry storm
harry storm
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

Re: even in the west that model has been disastrous.

As Douglas Murray would say, “compared to what?”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

That critique might easily apply to the Ukraine.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Social capital, low corruption, social cohesion, and capitalism are the bedrock of economic growth.

Watch, as those valuable assets slowly diminish in our own country with the influx of third world vices – the reverse side of that cultural enrichment dividend immigration enthusiasts like to boast about.
Yes, the problem with Niger is Niger – but perhaps in 20 or so years they will be able to blame their failings on Russian or Chinese exploitation and stage another futile revolution.

Chipoko
Chipoko
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Well said!

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“Social capital, low corruption, social cohesion, and capitalism are the bedrock of economic growth.”
Utter nonsense! Some of us are old enough to recall the IMF, World Bank etc encouraging developing economies to disinvest in education, health, social welfare, devalue their currency to make their resources cheaper for western capital etc because, you know, the answer is always pushing free market solutions into every human problem! And look how well that turned out!
Even in the west, that model has been disastrous! To quote RobertDavie:
“In the immediate post-war decades the US was economically and politically at the leading edge of civilisation. According to Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian in their book, The Privatization of Everything, the government acted to ensure the nation’s prosperity in many ways, “The government built highways and dams, conducted research, increased its regulatory authority across an expanding horizon of activities, and gave money to state and local governments to support functions ranging from education to road-building. The workforce became more productive and living standards rose evenly across the board.”
https://prospect.org/culture/books/privatization-myth-cohen-mikaelian-review/
Then came the privatization agenda in the US that has transformed the country from a prosperous nation to one that is now in serious decline, “……… numerous examples and studies showing that private-sector managers have no compunction about adopting profit-making strategies that make essential services unaffordable or unavailable to large segments of the population. A profit-seeking operation may choose, for example, not to provide health care to the indigent, or extend education to poor or learning-disabled children, or deliver packages to remote destinations.”
https://prospect.org/culture/books/privatization-myth-cohen-mikaelian-review/
The extent of the extraction of wealth from the US alone is truly staggering, “In the past four decades—under Democrats and Republicans alike—$50 trillion has moved from the bottom 90 percent to the top 1 percent of Americans.”
…………………….……………………………………………………………
“And while this was happening, America’s middle class—the wonder of the world—was decimated. Two generations have grown to adulthood not even knowing what “middle class” means. Those generations have no conception of a time when factory workers could afford to own a home, two cars, send their kids to college, pay their medical bills, take a vacation, retire with dignity. What was once a normal and basic reality now seems like fantasy to people who have grown up in a work environment where the minimum wage today has half the buying power it did in 1968.””

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
11 months ago

Niger will stay poor if its new government and its supporters think this is of any relevance:

“France’s biggest source of uranium, which is needed to fuel the nuclear plants which provide roughly 70% of the country’s electricity. Yet, only one in seven Nigeriens have access to modern electricity services, while more than 40% of the population live in extreme poverty.”

It betrays a deep ignorance of how wealth is created. Anyone thinking like that isn’t going to make poor people better off, and are more than likely to make them poorer. Resources don’t make prosperous nations: the most prosperous nations often have very few resources. Social capital, low corruption, social cohesion, and capitalism are the bedrock of economic growth.

As for uranium, its ore is plentiful, and fuel manufacturing and fuel burn in reactors uses relatively small amounts of ore because – and this should be obvious – it is a nuclear reaction that unleashes the energy. For these reasons uranium mining is not going to make a significant improvement in the wealth of a poor country. It is a nice industry to have amongst many others, but in a low social capital, corrupt, divided, and now anti-capitalist country like Niger, it is more than likely to be destroyed.

The problem in Niger isn’t imperialism, it is Niger. Anyone saying the problem is imperialism is making Niger’s problem worse. The uncomfortable truth is Asia was a bigger part of the imperial economic project and yet is now the wealthiest continent on the planet.

Last edited 11 months ago by Nell Clover
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

What an excellent review of yet another French disaster.
I for one couldn’t help feeling a little twinge of ‘schadenfreude’ reading this.

The French really don’t do Empire very well! Their first one in the 18th century was easily wrapped up by us, thanks to the sterling efforts of Messrs James Wolfe and Robert Clive and their assistants.

The second attempt in the 19th century saw France ‘rewarded’ with the least attractive bits of Africa, namely the Sahara Desert, whilst ‘we’ made off with the ‘choice cuts’, Kenya, Uganda, Rhodesia, and even the somewhat stroppy former Boer Republics.

Come the 20th century we see the French driven humiliatingly, and in short order from Syria in 1946, Indo-China in 1954, and perhaps most poignantly from Algeria in 1962.

So now the denouement of French hubris, what a joy it is to behold, given their decidedly anti Anglo-Saxon manipulation of the EU in recent years and their intransigence over cross Channel migration wallahs.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
11 months ago

UnHerd, you simply must make this man your roving reporter – the world needs him reporting from the Sahel or Syria.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Touché Mr McGloan, you would make a far better candidate than I.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
11 months ago

You’re too kind, but I’d only accept if you promised to act as a historical consultant and arbiter of writing style.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Sadly I must decline, as I fear I lack the necessary qualifications.
Besides I’m a bit of an ‘old dog’ now, as you have probably guessed!

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
11 months ago

You’re too modest. At the very least you should be imbuing young Foreign Office squabs with the cold, calculating Anglo-Saxon worldview that served the Empire so well.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
11 months ago

You’re too modest. At the very least you should be imbuing young Foreign Office squabs with the cold, calculating Anglo-Saxon worldview that served the Empire so well.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Sadly I must decline, as I fear I lack the necessary qualifications.
Besides I’m a bit of an ‘old dog’ now, as you have probably guessed!

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
11 months ago

You’re too kind, but I’d only accept if you promised to act as a historical consultant and arbiter of writing style.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

Touché Mr McGloan, you would make a far better candidate than I.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

While much of that is true, schadenfreude is a petty response rather like the delight of some EU countries that BREXIT is an almost total failure.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

For someone who recently stated “Ashli
Babbitt got what she deserved”, it ill becomes you Sir to lecture me on schadenfreude.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

For someone who recently stated “Ashli
Babbitt got what she deserved”, it ill becomes you Sir to lecture me on schadenfreude.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago

Slight correction. Vichy French allowed Japan to take Indo China and then invade Malaya. Post WW2 Mounbatten advised Leclerc not to return to Indo China as a conqueror but as liberator and was ignored.
Douglas MacArthur would not allow British troops into Saigon before received formal Japanese surrender so Vietminh rose up and took Japanese weapons
French used troops with little combat experience who committed dubious acts. The British called in experienced jungle troops including Gurkhas and nearly defeated the Vietminh but government called them back to India. By 1945, British Empire had finest jungle troops in the World – Chindits, SOE Force 136, V Force,
Britain’s Vietnam War – YouTube
In the jungle, quality is more important than quantity.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
11 months ago

UnHerd, you simply must make this man your roving reporter – the world needs him reporting from the Sahel or Syria.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

While much of that is true, schadenfreude is a petty response rather like the delight of some EU countries that BREXIT is an almost total failure.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago

Slight correction. Vichy French allowed Japan to take Indo China and then invade Malaya. Post WW2 Mounbatten advised Leclerc not to return to Indo China as a conqueror but as liberator and was ignored.
Douglas MacArthur would not allow British troops into Saigon before received formal Japanese surrender so Vietminh rose up and took Japanese weapons
French used troops with little combat experience who committed dubious acts. The British called in experienced jungle troops including Gurkhas and nearly defeated the Vietminh but government called them back to India. By 1945, British Empire had finest jungle troops in the World – Chindits, SOE Force 136, V Force,
Britain’s Vietnam War – YouTube
In the jungle, quality is more important than quantity.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

What an excellent review of yet another French disaster.
I for one couldn’t help feeling a little twinge of ‘schadenfreude’ reading this.

The French really don’t do Empire very well! Their first one in the 18th century was easily wrapped up by us, thanks to the sterling efforts of Messrs James Wolfe and Robert Clive and their assistants.

The second attempt in the 19th century saw France ‘rewarded’ with the least attractive bits of Africa, namely the Sahara Desert, whilst ‘we’ made off with the ‘choice cuts’, Kenya, Uganda, Rhodesia, and even the somewhat stroppy former Boer Republics.

Come the 20th century we see the French driven humiliatingly, and in short order from Syria in 1946, Indo-China in 1954, and perhaps most poignantly from Algeria in 1962.

So now the denouement of French hubris, what a joy it is to behold, given their decidedly anti Anglo-Saxon manipulation of the EU in recent years and their intransigence over cross Channel migration wallahs.

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago

Very good article, I agree with most of it. However, I do have to wonder, if Niger had its own currency, would it actually be a success/better for Niger

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

For a lot of these African nations I think the currency is the least of their problems. Many of them are still split down tribal lines, with corruption and nepotism looking after their own while the rest of the country goes to the dogs

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

For a lot of these African nations I think the currency is the least of their problems. Many of them are still split down tribal lines, with corruption and nepotism looking after their own while the rest of the country goes to the dogs

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago

Very good article, I agree with most of it. However, I do have to wonder, if Niger had its own currency, would it actually be a success/better for Niger

Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
11 months ago

For as hard as it may be to fathom, Western countries — and France in particular — should accept that this anti-Western trend has much less to do with recent foreign influence than with historical grievances against long-running neocolonial practices.

Up to a point – however it would be equally naive to suppose that the ‘recent foreign influence’ Fazi refers to here – which comes of course from Russia and China – has nothing to do with this. On the contrary their fingerprints are all over this coup, and those in Mali and Burkina Faso. I am frankly baffled by the Left’s ability to see in these foreign-backed military takeovers a form of ‘liberation’ or ‘decolonisation’. There was a similar article in the Guardian (yes, I do still read that esteemed organ), and it says a lot about Fazi’s relentlessly anti-Western take on the situation in Niger that I can reproduce the same comment I made there more or less unchanged:
While this article is informative in some ways, there is an underlying tone of triumphalism which seems to me entirely misplaced – it is very hard to see how you can put a positive or ‘decolonising’ spin on the Niger coup, in which a democratically-elected government – the product of the first peaceful transfer of power in Niger’s history – has been overthrown by a military junta in Russia’s pocket. France’s colonial record in Africa has many dark chapters, of which the original conquest of Niger and Chad (what the French called the Western Sahara) was certainly one, as of course was the Algerian War. But not all French colonial legacies in the region are negative – Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and to some extent Senegal are politically stable and wealthier than most comparable countries in sub-Saharan Africa. French influence came with costs, but it also provided investment and aid of a kind which will now either dry up altogether (as Russia has nothing comparable to offer) or will come from China with a much heavier political and economic price attached. It is a bit much to denounce the West for withdrawing aid and development funding in response to the coup when that was almost the only thing keeping Niger’s economy afloat. Niger’s problems are not just down to western influence – some are due to very profound environmental factors (climate, poor soil) and demography, while others are owing to the country’s generally poor postcolonial leadership, though of course France has tended to support this – still, local elites have to take some responsibility for the mess Niger is in.
Russia makes cynical use of understandable postcolonial resentment to advance a political agenda in the region that will be considerably less benign than the existing relationships with France. This is not to defend the CFA franc, which is bad for West African economies (though good for its elites), or the way in which the French and other European powers have winked at grotesque corruption within West African regimes, but simply to point out that the alternative they are rushing towards will be much, much worse. The current Russian regime has nothing to offer but violence, weapons (though fewer of these lately for obvious reasons) and the looting of resources on terms that will make European and American investment seem generous by comparison. Underlying this is the claim that Russia itself does not have a colonial past (or present) and therefore is in a position to ‘liberate’ these countries from lingering colonial relationships. This of course is not true, as the inhabitants not just of Ukraine but of the Caucasian and Central Asian former Soviet republics will tell you. The Russian state just had its colonies elsewhere.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

Spot on. And I would add that Wagner are active in most African countries where the disparity between haves and have nots makes them ripe for anti western coups. France probably has behaved stupidly in its dealings with former colonies but the corruption in these countries is down to them. Russia and China will make it worse and have already begun teaching the ruling elite of various countries how to make any criticism of their rule against the law by ‘disposing’ of the opposition as in Russia by framing them with bogus charges. Parliament, the Law Courts and the Police will all be trained to achieve this end which has NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER with Law and Order or Justice.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
11 months ago

What few commentors here seem to know or appreciate is that if Niger or indeed any other nation even opens negotiations with a China/Russia bloc then they will have greater leverage over the USA/EU bloc. Who wants to deal with a monopoly supplier in anything be it finance, security or culture and ideology? More players in the market make for a better market as each player has to out-bid their competitors. As the old ad said, “If you find a better deal, take it”.

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago

“I am frankly baffled by the Left’s ability to see in these foreign-backed military takeovers a form of ‘liberation’ or ‘decolonisation’.”
Like, I’m baffled by the left’s failure to see that the status quo is the only way forward!
Neoliberalist policies has totally impoverished not just these economies but after decades of being visited on poor countries, the same extractive ideas are being visited on western populations, decimating the middle classes! How can the left not see there is no other way but to accept western countries’ extractive agendas are the way forward!
You can even go back to the decolonial armed struggles in Africa: how could the left not see the USSR’s fingerprints all over those liberation movements? Why couldn’t the left see the continuation of western dominance in those countries was the only way forward? I’m frankly totally baffled! Coups are only good if they have our fingerprints all over them!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

Compare Africa with Singapore and South Korea. Ghana was wealthier than South Korea in 1953 due to war.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

Compare Africa with Singapore and South Korea. Ghana was wealthier than South Korea in 1953 due to war.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

And btw Algeria was a Department of France, since 1840 ( I think). Something Roosevelt never understood. Algeria was part of France for considerably longer than Texas or Hawai were part of the US. The usual roads, railways, ports and harbours, vines and cornfields, post offices, hospitals in Algeria were all paid for by France. And the French abolished slavery in Algeria, as they did in Morocco n 1911.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago

Spot on. And I would add that Wagner are active in most African countries where the disparity between haves and have nots makes them ripe for anti western coups. France probably has behaved stupidly in its dealings with former colonies but the corruption in these countries is down to them. Russia and China will make it worse and have already begun teaching the ruling elite of various countries how to make any criticism of their rule against the law by ‘disposing’ of the opposition as in Russia by framing them with bogus charges. Parliament, the Law Courts and the Police will all be trained to achieve this end which has NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER with Law and Order or Justice.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
11 months ago

What few commentors here seem to know or appreciate is that if Niger or indeed any other nation even opens negotiations with a China/Russia bloc then they will have greater leverage over the USA/EU bloc. Who wants to deal with a monopoly supplier in anything be it finance, security or culture and ideology? More players in the market make for a better market as each player has to out-bid their competitors. As the old ad said, “If you find a better deal, take it”.

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago

“I am frankly baffled by the Left’s ability to see in these foreign-backed military takeovers a form of ‘liberation’ or ‘decolonisation’.”
Like, I’m baffled by the left’s failure to see that the status quo is the only way forward!
Neoliberalist policies has totally impoverished not just these economies but after decades of being visited on poor countries, the same extractive ideas are being visited on western populations, decimating the middle classes! How can the left not see there is no other way but to accept western countries’ extractive agendas are the way forward!
You can even go back to the decolonial armed struggles in Africa: how could the left not see the USSR’s fingerprints all over those liberation movements? Why couldn’t the left see the continuation of western dominance in those countries was the only way forward? I’m frankly totally baffled! Coups are only good if they have our fingerprints all over them!

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

And btw Algeria was a Department of France, since 1840 ( I think). Something Roosevelt never understood. Algeria was part of France for considerably longer than Texas or Hawai were part of the US. The usual roads, railways, ports and harbours, vines and cornfields, post offices, hospitals in Algeria were all paid for by France. And the French abolished slavery in Algeria, as they did in Morocco n 1911.

Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
11 months ago

For as hard as it may be to fathom, Western countries — and France in particular — should accept that this anti-Western trend has much less to do with recent foreign influence than with historical grievances against long-running neocolonial practices.

Up to a point – however it would be equally naive to suppose that the ‘recent foreign influence’ Fazi refers to here – which comes of course from Russia and China – has nothing to do with this. On the contrary their fingerprints are all over this coup, and those in Mali and Burkina Faso. I am frankly baffled by the Left’s ability to see in these foreign-backed military takeovers a form of ‘liberation’ or ‘decolonisation’. There was a similar article in the Guardian (yes, I do still read that esteemed organ), and it says a lot about Fazi’s relentlessly anti-Western take on the situation in Niger that I can reproduce the same comment I made there more or less unchanged:
While this article is informative in some ways, there is an underlying tone of triumphalism which seems to me entirely misplaced – it is very hard to see how you can put a positive or ‘decolonising’ spin on the Niger coup, in which a democratically-elected government – the product of the first peaceful transfer of power in Niger’s history – has been overthrown by a military junta in Russia’s pocket. France’s colonial record in Africa has many dark chapters, of which the original conquest of Niger and Chad (what the French called the Western Sahara) was certainly one, as of course was the Algerian War. But not all French colonial legacies in the region are negative – Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and to some extent Senegal are politically stable and wealthier than most comparable countries in sub-Saharan Africa. French influence came with costs, but it also provided investment and aid of a kind which will now either dry up altogether (as Russia has nothing comparable to offer) or will come from China with a much heavier political and economic price attached. It is a bit much to denounce the West for withdrawing aid and development funding in response to the coup when that was almost the only thing keeping Niger’s economy afloat. Niger’s problems are not just down to western influence – some are due to very profound environmental factors (climate, poor soil) and demography, while others are owing to the country’s generally poor postcolonial leadership, though of course France has tended to support this – still, local elites have to take some responsibility for the mess Niger is in.
Russia makes cynical use of understandable postcolonial resentment to advance a political agenda in the region that will be considerably less benign than the existing relationships with France. This is not to defend the CFA franc, which is bad for West African economies (though good for its elites), or the way in which the French and other European powers have winked at grotesque corruption within West African regimes, but simply to point out that the alternative they are rushing towards will be much, much worse. The current Russian regime has nothing to offer but violence, weapons (though fewer of these lately for obvious reasons) and the looting of resources on terms that will make European and American investment seem generous by comparison. Underlying this is the claim that Russia itself does not have a colonial past (or present) and therefore is in a position to ‘liberate’ these countries from lingering colonial relationships. This of course is not true, as the inhabitants not just of Ukraine but of the Caucasian and Central Asian former Soviet republics will tell you. The Russian state just had its colonies elsewhere.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
11 months ago

I don’t dispute that France uses the CFA or that it is ridiculous that interest rate changes in Europe should affect West Africa. However, the countries who use the CFA have had currency stability. Residents of these countries know that the notes in their pocket will not lose value like the Zimbabwean Dollar has.
A lack of balance is also in the assumption that coups are popular and the failure to mention that the coup leaders are backed by imperial powers Russia and China.

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago

“Residents of these countries know that the notes in their pocket will not lose value like the Zimbabwean Dollar has.”
Yet they’re economically no better or worse than the Zimbabweans! Funny that! But yay, they have western controlled currency!

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

I disagree that they are not better off than Zimbabwe. Those poor people go hungry, and emigrate to South Africa n large numbers.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  B Bailleul

I disagree that they are not better off than Zimbabwe. Those poor people go hungry, and emigrate to South Africa n large numbers.

B Bailleul
B Bailleul
11 months ago

“Residents of these countries know that the notes in their pocket will not lose value like the Zimbabwean Dollar has.”
Yet they’re economically no better or worse than the Zimbabweans! Funny that! But yay, they have western controlled currency!

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
11 months ago

I don’t dispute that France uses the CFA or that it is ridiculous that interest rate changes in Europe should affect West Africa. However, the countries who use the CFA have had currency stability. Residents of these countries know that the notes in their pocket will not lose value like the Zimbabwean Dollar has.
A lack of balance is also in the assumption that coups are popular and the failure to mention that the coup leaders are backed by imperial powers Russia and China.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
11 months ago

“Historical grievances”. Is that really a thing, or just a narrative construct of angry academics and journalists? We (USA) have suffered depredations from and been at war with Vietnam, Japan, Germany, Spain, Mexico and the UK, etc. but I don’t detect any “grievances” either way today. Sounds like colonialism is just a handy cop-out for cultural and government failures.

After all, we were a colony of England once upon a time. We did pretty well by that.

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
11 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Us (Vikings) slaughtered Anglo-Saxons en mass but there’s no grievance. Gustavus Adolphus decimated the German population by 25% and neither here I hear any grievance. It’s on the other hand quite fashionable to speak about the Viking time in England and one could almost feel a pride in telling of the genocide. The same happens in both Germany and Poland though we butchered people in cold blood but it’s sort of a positive historiography.

I wonder if the same thing will be told of WWI and WWII in, let’s say 300 hundred years. Will Hitler and Stalin be sort of mythical figures that would be spoken of with pride and wit. Maybe we should give Africa some time to digest all the atrocities and the French will become a positive happening in history.

Cheers

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
11 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Us (Vikings) slaughtered Anglo-Saxons en mass but there’s no grievance. Gustavus Adolphus decimated the German population by 25% and neither here I hear any grievance. It’s on the other hand quite fashionable to speak about the Viking time in England and one could almost feel a pride in telling of the genocide. The same happens in both Germany and Poland though we butchered people in cold blood but it’s sort of a positive historiography.

I wonder if the same thing will be told of WWI and WWII in, let’s say 300 hundred years. Will Hitler and Stalin be sort of mythical figures that would be spoken of with pride and wit. Maybe we should give Africa some time to digest all the atrocities and the French will become a positive happening in history.

Cheers

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
11 months ago

“Historical grievances”. Is that really a thing, or just a narrative construct of angry academics and journalists? We (USA) have suffered depredations from and been at war with Vietnam, Japan, Germany, Spain, Mexico and the UK, etc. but I don’t detect any “grievances” either way today. Sounds like colonialism is just a handy cop-out for cultural and government failures.

After all, we were a colony of England once upon a time. We did pretty well by that.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

If there had been a coup in Niger, then the West would be cheering it on, and doing a lot more than that for it. We like coups, or at the very least we come to terms with them, as we had done with the recent ones in Mali and Burkina Faso until they carried over in recent days into support for the revolution in Niger.

That is what we dislike, you see. We dislike revolutions, and this is one of those, with strong popular support due to its being aimed at ending military occupation by the old colonial power and its allies, and at ending the transfer to that power of the most valuable natural resource.

Yes, this has overthrown an elected Government, but the Western anger at that only illustrates the point, since it is hardly as if we usually cared about that where coups were concerned. And no, this has not been staged by Greenpeace or by the Salvation Army. So yes, it is going to be brutal, as it already is.

But as for the attempt to present this as a danger of increasing Islamist influence, whatever else they may be, when has either Russia or the Wagner Group been that? In the last few hours, al-Qaeda has already attacked Wagner troops as they have tried to cross the border from Mali into Niger. IS fighters have been brought into Ukraine from Syria via NATO Turkey, so Russia and Wagner are at war with al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State on at least three continents.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

If there had been a coup in Niger, then the West would be cheering it on, and doing a lot more than that for it. We like coups, or at the very least we come to terms with them, as we had done with the recent ones in Mali and Burkina Faso until they carried over in recent days into support for the revolution in Niger.

That is what we dislike, you see. We dislike revolutions, and this is one of those, with strong popular support due to its being aimed at ending military occupation by the old colonial power and its allies, and at ending the transfer to that power of the most valuable natural resource.

Yes, this has overthrown an elected Government, but the Western anger at that only illustrates the point, since it is hardly as if we usually cared about that where coups were concerned. And no, this has not been staged by Greenpeace or by the Salvation Army. So yes, it is going to be brutal, as it already is.

But as for the attempt to present this as a danger of increasing Islamist influence, whatever else they may be, when has either Russia or the Wagner Group been that? In the last few hours, al-Qaeda has already attacked Wagner troops as they have tried to cross the border from Mali into Niger. IS fighters have been brought into Ukraine from Syria via NATO Turkey, so Russia and Wagner are at war with al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State on at least three continents.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
11 months ago

Fazi majors on the lack of Nigerien ownership of the uranium operating companies but doesn’t provide any details on the tax take for those and similar companies. Without that information we are in the dark and can make no judgment.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
11 months ago

Fazi majors on the lack of Nigerien ownership of the uranium operating companies but doesn’t provide any details on the tax take for those and similar companies. Without that information we are in the dark and can make no judgment.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
11 months ago

A dictator stages a coup and tries to blame the country’s troubles on a former colonial power. This article has completely failed to demonstrate how France is to blame.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

Surely you haven’t forgotten the old adage that if there is an skullduggery afoot, France is to blame UNLESS proved otherwise?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

Surely you haven’t forgotten the old adage that if there is an skullduggery afoot, France is to blame UNLESS proved otherwise?

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
11 months ago

A dictator stages a coup and tries to blame the country’s troubles on a former colonial power. This article has completely failed to demonstrate how France is to blame.

Chris Martin
Chris Martin
11 months ago

I really think to blame the problems on France is unfair. For Africa to thrive it needs to take a hard look at itself. Most of these countries have now been independent for more than 50 years and ALL African countries have performed extremely poorly compared with similar countries elsewhere in the developing world – especially compared with Asia, where many countries share the same colonial heritage. If you take GDP per head at current prices a country like South Africa was wealthier than Singapore in 1960, yet now Singapore is more than ten times wealthier (in 2021). Also in 1960 Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe were all wealthier than Thailand, Cambodia or South Korea. Yet now South Korea is 13-30 times wealthier than these African countries, Thailand 6 times wealthier etc etc. There are plenty of examples, The case of South Africa is so telling – it was richer per head than any country in Asia in 1960 and yet now languishes in comparison.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Martin

Re: South Africa – Why aren’t we hearing about the fabulousness of Nelson Mandela anymore? His fame was like a flash-in-the-pan. You don’t see Obama or Oprah rushing to Africa either doing their ‘good works’ – what gives? Is Africa no longer fashionable?

Last edited 11 months ago by Cathy Carron
Andrew F
Andrew F
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Martin

Just overlay IQ map of the world over political map and you understand straight away while Africa is poor in comparison to Asia.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Martin

Re: South Africa – Why aren’t we hearing about the fabulousness of Nelson Mandela anymore? His fame was like a flash-in-the-pan. You don’t see Obama or Oprah rushing to Africa either doing their ‘good works’ – what gives? Is Africa no longer fashionable?

Last edited 11 months ago by Cathy Carron
Andrew F
Andrew F
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Martin

Just overlay IQ map of the world over political map and you understand straight away while Africa is poor in comparison to Asia.

Chris Martin
Chris Martin
11 months ago

I really think to blame the problems on France is unfair. For Africa to thrive it needs to take a hard look at itself. Most of these countries have now been independent for more than 50 years and ALL African countries have performed extremely poorly compared with similar countries elsewhere in the developing world – especially compared with Asia, where many countries share the same colonial heritage. If you take GDP per head at current prices a country like South Africa was wealthier than Singapore in 1960, yet now Singapore is more than ten times wealthier (in 2021). Also in 1960 Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe were all wealthier than Thailand, Cambodia or South Korea. Yet now South Korea is 13-30 times wealthier than these African countries, Thailand 6 times wealthier etc etc. There are plenty of examples, The case of South Africa is so telling – it was richer per head than any country in Asia in 1960 and yet now languishes in comparison.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
11 months ago

Two words: South Africa Let this be a warning to “decolonizers” everywhere.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
11 months ago

Two words: South Africa Let this be a warning to “decolonizers” everywhere.

Niels Georg Bach Christensen
Niels Georg Bach Christensen
11 months ago

‘Niger is a striking example: it is one of the world’s leading exporters of uranium, yet consistently ranks towards the bottom of the Human Development Index.’. Typical moral judgement. It’s population has 5 doubled since 1970. IN a country without institutions, mostly madrassa like schools, doesn’t develop. Look at Pakistan. Conservative muslim countries can’t develop.

Last edited 11 months ago by Niels Georg Bach Christensen
Niels Georg Bach Christensen
Niels Georg Bach Christensen
11 months ago

‘Niger is a striking example: it is one of the world’s leading exporters of uranium, yet consistently ranks towards the bottom of the Human Development Index.’. Typical moral judgement. It’s population has 5 doubled since 1970. IN a country without institutions, mostly madrassa like schools, doesn’t develop. Look at Pakistan. Conservative muslim countries can’t develop.

Last edited 11 months ago by Niels Georg Bach Christensen
Dumetrius
Dumetrius
11 months ago

A Society of Mutual Loathing ; the French and their colonies. Odd, when you go to parties in Paris and hear reheated Gaullists complain literally that as compared with the UK ‘we got the rubbish colonies with the rubbish people’, that they keep trying to hang onto them.
This is France’s national paradox ; only being important to people you don’t like, and who don’t like you.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
11 months ago

A Society of Mutual Loathing ; the French and their colonies. Odd, when you go to parties in Paris and hear reheated Gaullists complain literally that as compared with the UK ‘we got the rubbish colonies with the rubbish people’, that they keep trying to hang onto them.
This is France’s national paradox ; only being important to people you don’t like, and who don’t like you.

Peter Spurrier
Peter Spurrier
11 months ago

According to the article, Niger ‘consistently ranks towards the bottom of the Human Development Index‘. Could this be partly because of the persistence of slavery there…of blacks by blacks?

Peter Spurrier
Peter Spurrier
11 months ago

According to the article, Niger ‘consistently ranks towards the bottom of the Human Development Index‘. Could this be partly because of the persistence of slavery there…of blacks by blacks?

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
11 months ago

“only one in seven Nigeriens (and just 4% of rural residents) have access to modern electricity services”
Any IMF loans to Niger should be conditional on getting to NetZero right away. They can do it next week I guess

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
11 months ago

“only one in seven Nigeriens (and just 4% of rural residents) have access to modern electricity services”
Any IMF loans to Niger should be conditional on getting to NetZero right away. They can do it next week I guess

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago

The reliably-prejudiced Fazi attempts to dignify Africa’s ongoing corruption-chaos by attributing it to an “anti-Western revolt”.
Our company did business in sub-Saharan Africa for several years, in Ghana and in Tanzania, developing industrial-size electricity projects.  
After several years, we sold up and pulled out. In my view, it’s not possible to do business honestly in Africa.  The brown envelope culture is everywhere, and if you’re not prepared to do that, you will be frozen out.  
To set up a power project, one first must deal with local landowners, typically tribal families who control the relevant land.  
This was the best bit of the process. Without exception, we found the local tribespeople in Ghana were great to deal with. Hospitable, well-ordered, drove a hard bargain, keen to do business and people of their word. Oh, and great fun – at community meetings, no business could be done until everyone got up and danced first, a practice which, akin to Japanese karaoke pre-deals, should perhaps be more widely adopted – nothing like stiff-assed honkies making utter fools of themselves in public to break the ice in subsequent negotiations lol.  
After a couple of years of work, we and the local Clan had a viable project, ready for construction.  
Of course, a power project which has no market is not going anywhere, and so we were dependent on the good offices of the national government, which in parallel was working on a scheme to rescue its basket-case stet electricity company, ECG. ECG stands for “Electricity Company of Ghana”, or, as ordinary Ghanaian people cynically referred to it, “Electricity Comes and Goes”.  
Blackouts were regular. It was selling power at below-costs prices. Corruption was everywhere.  
So a franchise process was agreed, whereunder an international franchise would run ECG for 20 years – recapitalise it, clean up the corruption and return it to profitability and to good governance.  Your standard ignorant Western bleeding hearts would of course present this as “Western financial imperialism”. Which jibes were wholly misconceived, since, at the end of that 20 years period, ECG was required to be returned to Ghanian state ownership, for the nominal sum of one dollar.  
So far, so good.
However, as soon as the successful franchisee had been appointed, the Ghanian government did everything it could to undermine it and to withhold all co-operation. In disgust, the successful franchisee pulled out.
Of course, what was happening behind the scenes was that the government favoured another franchisee, one backed by the Chinese. That franchisee has of course achieved nothing since, but it was an open secret that its unsuccessful application had been accompanied by lots of stuffed brown envelopes to key government officials.
In short, rather than see their electricity service put on a decent and long-term sustainable footing, Ghana’s leaders prioritised their own pockets, took Chinese bribes, and f***ed over, both the franchisee who would have done right by the country, and ordinary Ghanaian people who still have to put up with rubbish electricity “supplies”.  
Obviously, nobody can be in business to sell power at a loss.  
Without any prospect of a viable market, our project was essentially a stranded project.
We explained this to the Clan that we had done the land deal with, and they were utterly unsurprised. Hospitable to the end, they treated us to a farewell feast.
That’s just one example, and it is sadly very typical.  
It’s been my consistent direct, recent, experience that the ordinary people of Africa are sound, but that corruption cripples progress the nearer you get to the top; and, always, the corrupting influence of China and Russia is backstage. Obviously, Fazi’s numerous blind spots ensure he has SFA to say about that.  
Trying to pin the blame for that onto long-vanished Western colonialism is risible.
Half a century on from Western colonialism, Africa has nobody to blame but itself.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago

The reliably-prejudiced Fazi attempts to dignify Africa’s ongoing corruption-chaos by attributing it to an “anti-Western revolt”.
Our company did business in sub-Saharan Africa for several years, in Ghana and in Tanzania, developing industrial-size electricity projects.  
After several years, we sold up and pulled out. In my view, it’s not possible to do business honestly in Africa.  The brown envelope culture is everywhere, and if you’re not prepared to do that, you will be frozen out.  
To set up a power project, one first must deal with local landowners, typically tribal families who control the relevant land.  
This was the best bit of the process. Without exception, we found the local tribespeople in Ghana were great to deal with. Hospitable, well-ordered, drove a hard bargain, keen to do business and people of their word. Oh, and great fun – at community meetings, no business could be done until everyone got up and danced first, a practice which, akin to Japanese karaoke pre-deals, should perhaps be more widely adopted – nothing like stiff-assed honkies making utter fools of themselves in public to break the ice in subsequent negotiations lol.  
After a couple of years of work, we and the local Clan had a viable project, ready for construction.  
Of course, a power project which has no market is not going anywhere, and so we were dependent on the good offices of the national government, which in parallel was working on a scheme to rescue its basket-case stet electricity company, ECG. ECG stands for “Electricity Company of Ghana”, or, as ordinary Ghanaian people cynically referred to it, “Electricity Comes and Goes”.  
Blackouts were regular. It was selling power at below-costs prices. Corruption was everywhere.  
So a franchise process was agreed, whereunder an international franchise would run ECG for 20 years – recapitalise it, clean up the corruption and return it to profitability and to good governance.  Your standard ignorant Western bleeding hearts would of course present this as “Western financial imperialism”. Which jibes were wholly misconceived, since, at the end of that 20 years period, ECG was required to be returned to Ghanian state ownership, for the nominal sum of one dollar.  
So far, so good.
However, as soon as the successful franchisee had been appointed, the Ghanian government did everything it could to undermine it and to withhold all co-operation. In disgust, the successful franchisee pulled out.
Of course, what was happening behind the scenes was that the government favoured another franchisee, one backed by the Chinese. That franchisee has of course achieved nothing since, but it was an open secret that its unsuccessful application had been accompanied by lots of stuffed brown envelopes to key government officials.
In short, rather than see their electricity service put on a decent and long-term sustainable footing, Ghana’s leaders prioritised their own pockets, took Chinese bribes, and f***ed over, both the franchisee who would have done right by the country, and ordinary Ghanaian people who still have to put up with rubbish electricity “supplies”.  
Obviously, nobody can be in business to sell power at a loss.  
Without any prospect of a viable market, our project was essentially a stranded project.
We explained this to the Clan that we had done the land deal with, and they were utterly unsurprised. Hospitable to the end, they treated us to a farewell feast.
That’s just one example, and it is sadly very typical.  
It’s been my consistent direct, recent, experience that the ordinary people of Africa are sound, but that corruption cripples progress the nearer you get to the top; and, always, the corrupting influence of China and Russia is backstage. Obviously, Fazi’s numerous blind spots ensure he has SFA to say about that.  
Trying to pin the blame for that onto long-vanished Western colonialism is risible.
Half a century on from Western colonialism, Africa has nobody to blame but itself.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago

Thomas Fazi, unreconstructed Marxist as he is. often proves one of the most naive UnHerd contributors. I am sure he is right about the sometimes baleful influence of French policy since decolonisation, but you’d have to make a much stronger case than he has to say that the old French Africa has been disproportionately held back in its development by that. As Douglas Murray is fond of asking “compared to whom precisely”? The Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe?

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

Surely connection to a stable currency is a good thing. Morocco has tied its Dirham to the euro, and it seems rather stable.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

Surely connection to a stable currency is a good thing. Morocco has tied its Dirham to the euro, and it seems rather stable.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

I personally would think it’s more down to the influence of the Wagner group, who have their fingers in numerous pies across the region.
It’s much easier for them to get hold of the countries natural resources if they’ve helped militant groups topple the government

Max Price
Max Price
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s that saying that if you didn’t like Western imperialism you’re going to really hate Chinese/Russian imperialism.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

That’s quite neat. However, killing and/or imprisoning your political opponents for opposing edicts from the questionably ‘elected’ Parliament is a Russian and Chinese trait,not a British or French one.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That’s quite neat, I’ll pass it onto Julian Assange

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
11 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That’s quite neat, I’ll pass it onto Julian Assange

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

That’s quite neat. However, killing and/or imprisoning your political opponents for opposing edicts from the questionably ‘elected’ Parliament is a Russian and Chinese trait,not a British or French one.

Max Price
Max Price
11 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s that saying that if you didn’t like Western imperialism you’re going to really hate Chinese/Russian imperialism.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

I personally would think it’s more down to the influence of the Wagner group, who have their fingers in numerous pies across the region.
It’s much easier for them to get hold of the countries natural resources if they’ve helped militant groups topple the government