Letters & Viewpoints
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Western countries however, have been silent about the role of European banks in the transfer of fortunes to their countries. This wealth can only leave Africa with the willing partnership of these banks. This process keeps African countries dependent on handouts. While they continue to blame our governments they do not stop their banks from receiving the money. By current acceptable standards of European law the willing keeper of stolen goods is equally guilty.
A recent article in Daily Telegraph by David Blair claimed that Nigeria has had 220 billion dollars of its money deposited in personal bank accounts in Western Europe since independence. The article stated that this was 5 times more than the Marshall plan given by the US to reconstruct Europe after the Second World War. If this figure is truly accurate then the banks have to face up to their role as responsible bankers. Certainly these huge amounts should have prompted them to examine ethical banking concepts that apply when unexplained funds appear.
To follow the simple money trail, 220 billion pounds leaves Africa and goes to Western European banks. When the money arrives, it is not stored physically as cash in bank vaults. The money is immediately pumped into the economy as financing for development, industries and commerce. The direct result of this is that the European economies benefit unwittingly from this free money. The irony is that this money meant for developing Africa is instead developing Europe.
The IMF and The World Bank then gives us loans with the necessary terms that such loans dictate. No doubt some of the money we borrow is part of our wealth stored in Europe. These loans then get to Africa and make the same trip back to Europe again where the bankers are always willing. The transfers back and forth sideline the poor it was intended to assist.
The reason European Countries are better developed is not because of wealth but rather due to a desire to ensure that no individual is left behind. The society truly tries to improve the living standards of all, and there is a pride in eradicating poverty and a sincere effort to ensure that all persons have access to life's basic amenities. The material cost of developing such a society is achievable by most African countries if measured by the amounts of wealth going into Western Bank accounts. Pockets of opulence in the midst of poverty are Africa's trademark. One can only imagine the thoughts in the minds of Western bankers as they see millions being deposited in accounts even as they watch African images of poverty and famine on their television screens.
I want the readers to imagine a scenario where a Western European leader places a billion dollars into a personal European Bank account. The banks would immediately alert the authorities. They would do this under the time honored code of civic responsibility well-practiced in Europe. It just seems that this selective responsibility does not extend to Africa. If they are truly concerned about poverty in Africa why can they not simply stop these transfers?
Today every bank in G8 countries keenly looks for laundered money to prevent terrorists and drug dealers from abusing their banks. It is virtually impossible for terrorist organizations to use the western banking system due to this attention given to strange money. Somehow money from Africa seems to pass through this net. The reason is that terrorism and drugs kill. Well, in Africa there is an additional terrorist called Poverty that strikes everyday. The G8 should pass laws making it illegal for Western Banks to participate in African money laundering. Guilty banks should be persecuted and fined as is done with terrorist money. The banker blaming his depositors for corruption while accepting the profits that come from such funds is indeed hypocritical.
This is a plea to the G8 to alleviate poverty in Africa by stopping this practice. They cannot stop African corruption. However, without the safe haven of European banks, the money would be laundered into the local African economies .The definition of poverty in real world terms is the absence of US dollars from indigenous central banks. Keeping this money in Africa - corrupt or not - would keep it circulating within the African markets. In addition, it would be an indirect catalyst for development because it would be used to build revenue producing local industries as well as stimulating commerce.
The gap between the poor and rich countries of the world today is extreme. Living standards in Africa can greatly be increased if European Banks stop facilitating African corruption. Africans should realize that they have only themselves to blame for underdevelopment. We cannot look to Europe to develop us, and the moral obligation for African development is ours. We must individually face up to our responsibilities. An underdeveloped Africa means persistent poverty and dependency with attendant lack of social, economic and physical security. The battles for independence have become ancient battle cries with no substance as we still live in dependency. Our wealth is sitting in European banks for free while our continent languishes.
Note: The Global Afrikan Congress is a Pan-Afrikan organization of activists, scholars, and community organizers from around the world open to Afrikans and their descendants. It is an organization dedicated to providing information, encouraging intervention and supporting reparations for Afrikan people regardless of their national ties.
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