Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten Newsletter — Translated by Le Sphinx Hebdo
The French State annually collects from its former colonies, 440 billion Euros in taxes. France relies on revenue from Africa not to sink into economic insignificance, warns former (French) President, Jacques Chirac. The case shows that a just world is difficult because the former colonial powers have become dependent on exploitation.
In the 1950s and 60s, France’s African colonies requested their independence. Although the Paris government formally accepted the declarations of independence, she called on African countries to sign a so-called “pact for the continuation of settlements”. In it, they committed to use the French colonial currency, FCFA (“Francs for the French colonies in Africa”), to maintain the French school and military system and to establish French as the official language.
Under this law, 14 African countries are still forced to store around 85 percent of their currency reserves in the French central bank in Paris. They are under the direct control of the French Treasury. The affected countries have no access to this part of their reserves. If their remaining 15 percent reserves are insufficient, they must borrow additional funds from the French Treasury at market rates. Since 1961, Paris controls the currency reserves of Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
In addition, these countries must transfer their “colonial debts” each year for the infrastructure built by France, to Paris, as Silicon Africa reported in detail. France takes around 440 billion euros every year. The government in Paris also has a right of first refusal on all newly discovered natural resources in the former African colonies. Finally, French companies must be given preferential treatment in the allocation of contracts in ex-colonies. As a result, most services in the areas of utilities, finance, transport, energy and agriculture are in the hands of French corporations.
The ruling elite in each country has no choice but to meet these demands. African leaders who refuse are threatened with assassination or the overthrow of their government. In the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups took place in 26 African countries. 16 of these 26 countries were former French’s Colonies.
An example of this is the case of Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the West African country of Togo, ousted in a coup. He had refused to sign the “Pact for the continuation of settlements”. But France insisted that Togo pays compensation for the infrastructure that the French had built during the colonial era. The annual sum was about 40 percent of Togo’s budget in 1963 and quickly brought the newly independent country to its economic limits.
Furthermore, the new president of Togo had decided to abolish the French colonial currency, FCFA and print its own national currency. Only three days after this decision, the new government was overthrown by a group of former foreign legionnaires (French Special Forces) and the president was killed. The legionaires’ leader, Gnassingbe Eyadema, received the equivalent of 550 euros from the local French Embassy for the assassination, according to the British’s Telegraph. Four years later, Eyadema became the new president of Togo with support from Paris. He established a tyrannical dictatorship in the West African country and remained in power until his death in 2005.
In the following years, the government in Paris repeatedly resorted to former foreign legionnaires to forcibly remove from power unwanted governments in its former colonies. This is how the first president of the Central African Republic, David Dacko, was overthrown in 1966 by former members of the Foreign Legion. The same happened to Burkina Faso’s president, Maurice Yaméogo and Benin’s President, Mathieu Kérékou. And even the first president of the Republic of Mali, Modiba Keita, fell victim to a coup by former members of the Foreign Legion in 1968. Only a few years earlier, he had decided to abolish the French colonial currency.
By contrast, the other colonial powers have abandoned such measures. Great Britain learned its lesson in the wake of the American Revolution of 1763. The revolution’s trigger was Britain’s decision to impose the costs of the recently ended French and Indian wars on American colonies. The protest, however, culminated in the “Boston Tea Party” and finally in the War of Independence and the founding of the United States in 1776. In 1778, the British Parliament passed the “Taxation of Colonies Act” and Great Britain got rid of taxes and duties on sales in the “British America” and “British West Indies” colonies.
The same applies to the former British colonies of Australia and Canada. Although these countries are still part of the “Commonwealth of Nations” and thus formally subject to the British royal family, since the declaration of independence of the countries at the beginning of the 20th century, they do not pay taxes to England.
The former Dutch colonial power no longer levies any taxes on its former spheres of influence in South America and Southeast Asia. In Southeast Asia, at the beginning of the 20th century, finances had been so disastrous due to devastating wars that the Netherlands had to provide regular financial support for their colonies. At the beginning of the 19th century, the kingdom was already getting rid of a large part of its colonies. Most recently, the Netherlands Antilles left the kingdom in October 2010. Only the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Maarten are still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The political elite of France, on the other hand, has no intention whatsoever of eliminating the relics of the colonial era and of liberating the former colonies into complete independence. Rather, in Paris, the fear seems to prevail that you could sink to economic insignificance without the revenue from Africa. Even, the former French President Jacques Chirac said in March 2008: “Without Africa, France would slip into the rank of third country “.
Article originally published in German under the title of Frankreich kann seinen Status nur mit Ausbeutung der ehemaligen Kolonien halte.
Translated by Le Sphinx Hebdo