Free or low cost Community Events and college courses are intended to provide background on the yearly topic and to touch on areas related to the February Conference that may not be covered in its three-day format. The views of our presenters are their own and may not represent those of the Camden Conference.
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Africa’s Resources: Who Wins, Who Loses? – November (Discussion Series @ Belfast Free Library)
November 4, 2015 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm UTC-4
From the time of international slavery up to the present, Africa has been a source for resources. Initially they were human resources, in the case of the US and other parts of the world, to provide inexpensive workers to do manual labor particularly in southern US, but initially the whole country. In the 19th century, the slave trade was down to a trickle in the US, but booming in places like Brazil; and then in the 20th century came the gold and diamond trade through most of the European colonial powers. Currently it is oil, minerals, agriculture and tree farming. China, which prefers bi-lateral agreements handles its import-export industry in this fashion, while many of the former colonial powers, as well as the US, prefer multilateral treaty agreements. The major question is whether the current practice is exploitative, or fair?
- Tuesday, November 3 at the Camden Public Library, 7-8:30 PM
- Wednesday, November 4 at the Belfast Free Library, 6:30-8 PM
- Tuesday, November 10 at the Rockland Public Library, 6-7:30 PM
Stewart, Heather, “Annan calls for end to ‘unconscionable exploitation’ of Africa’s Resources,” The Guardian, Thursday 9 May 2013
This reading is succinct and gives a general overview of the issues surrounding bi-lateral and multi-lateral economic treaties with Africa. Annan’s view is that much of trade is done to the disadvantage of Africa This article focuses on multinational corporations that cheat Africa from a reasonable return for having their oil and minerals exported. Annan, the former UN Secretary General does not appear to have a financial stake in the issue, this his comments have more weight than either governments of Africa or multi-national corporations.
Tsabora, James “Illicit Natural Resources Exploitation by Private Corporate Interests in Africa’s Maritime Zones During Armed Conflict”, Natural Resources Journal, Spring, 2014
This article amplifies the prior Guardian article and focuses on the maritime industries: fishing, extraction of oil and minerals and dumping of toxic products into the territorial waters of African states. It particularly focuses on what happens during armed conflict, and the various governments are otherwise distracted. Africa is particularly vulnerable in these times.
Haroz, David, “China in Africa: Symbiosis or Exploitation” Fletcher Forum on World Affairs, Vol 35:2, Summer 2011,
This is a superb article that outlines the plusses and minuses of Africa’s engagement with China. China is perceived to be less of a threat because there is no colonial history relationship with Africa as there is with the west, particularly Europe. The research was probably done in 2010 which makes it a bit dated, but the author’s conclusion is that the relationship is a plus. Fast forward to 2014 when the Annan interview came out, and it appears that engagement with China now may be regarded as too much of a good thing.
This report is very thorough and probably forms the basis for most of the articles above. The forward by Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General articulates the issues going forward for Africa. While he is optimistic, he is also realistic that Africa has a way to go. One way to begin to understand the report is to read the charts. Africa is not monolithic, parts of Africa are doing quite well, others are poverty stricken. The introduction is a reasonable summary, but the whole article is 72 pages of pretty dense reading. Our suggestion is to go through the charts as a way to get into the article.
Tsegaye, Mezgebe, Dawit “Africa-China Trade Relations: The Role of African Governments on Protecting Unfair Trade Practices” International Research Journal of Social Sciences Vol4(1), January (2015), 59-67
This article is useful for understanding China’s interest in Africa’s natural resources. While the abstract appears to have been matched to the body of the article by error, the article itself explains the fact that Africa is a “treasure chest of raw materials”. It outlines the history of bilateral relationships between China and the various governments of Africa. It outlines problems with dumping cheap goods on Africa, providing subsidies to businesses in China doing work in Africa and otherwise creating an “unfair playing field”. China provides needed services and infrastructure, but drives a hard bargain that is unfair to Africa, and the African governments are no match for China. While this article has a lot of information, it is not well written.