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in ENGLISH, The White House and the Black Continent, Economic Interests.

The White House and the Black Continent

Economic Interests


Before becoming President of the United States, Ronald Reagan made a notable statement in connection with the liberation of Angola. "I don't know about you, but I'm concerned-scared is the proper word-about what is going on in Africa," he said. "Many Americans have interpreted our interest in Africa as an extension of our own desire to achieve racial equality and elimination of injustice based on race. I'm afraid that is a naive oversimplification of what really is at issue."(1) In fact, of course, the United States pursues objectives in Africa that are far removed from concern about human rights, justice and the aspirations of the African people. Let us consider first the economic issues.

Until the second half of the seventies the liberated countries of Africa were made to believe in the concepts of "interdependence and partnership" and persuaded of the altruism of imperialist policies, which were presented as concern for the welfare of the people. Of the real economic and other interests of the United States in Africa nothing was said, or it was glossed over. Here it should be borne in mind that the USA, West European countries, and Japan are very dependent upon Africa for the imports of such raw materials as diamonds-90 per cent, cobalt-80, gold-80, platinum-62, manganese-90, phosphates-33, copper-37, uranium concentrate-22 per cent, cocoa beans-68 per cent, and valuable timbers-22 per cent. (2)

As for the United States, which as distinct from the countries of Western Europe and Japan possesses considerable natural resources of its own, its production of raw materials is only sufficient to meet 75 per cent of demand. And in chrome, manganese, nickel, cobalt, and tin it has to rely completely on imports, most of which come from Africa. According to American experts by 1985 the United States will have to import no less than 50 per cent of its fuel and mineral requirements including iron ore. Of particular concern is the position regarding oil. Imported oil rose from 8.7 per cent in 1950 to 40 per cent in 1980.(3) All in all the United States is self-sufficient in only 27 of the 95 raw materials it needs for industrial production. It depends on imports to meet the demands for 68 types of raw materials and 15 of these have to be completely imported, mostly from Africa.(4) In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on October 5, 1981, Chester Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said: "The countries of Sub-Saharan Africa are the source of many minerals which are vital to our own development and defense. These nations supply the majority, and in some instances, virtually all of our requirements for chrome in our automobile and defense industries, manganese for the steel industry, cobalt for jet engines and mining equipment, copper, industrial diamonds, and mica, to cite but a few." (5)

The then Secretary of State Alexander Haig was even more specific: "The era of 'resource war' has begun," he declared, and therefore the United States should "revitalise" its leadership within NATO. (6)

Even this brief account shows how vast are US "raw material interests" in Africa. And these interests are kept continually on the boil, as it were, by the need additional for strategic mineral reserves prompted by the arms race.

Of course, Africa's economic importance for the US imperialism is not limited just to raw materials. The US monopolies benefit greatly from the continent's industrial development, particularly in those countries where they are accorded special rights and privileges and can set up their own companies for production that requires unskilled, manual labour on a large scale. The African countries are also becoming more important as trade partners due to the very size of the African market. In this connection the former Chairman of the Board of the Chase Manhattan Bank, David Rockefeller, said in an interview with Africa Report that, "Africa does, indeed, represent a fruitful field for American investment", since "many nations in Africa are rich in agricultural and mineral wealth. Several, such as Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria, also have oil wealth. So for the long term, I am optimistic."(7)

The economic strategy of US imperialism is to maintain the African countries as objects of exploitation and plunder. The monopolies net huge interest on their African investment due to the growing gap in prices of imported and exported goods. According to our calculations the American monopolies today receive no less than 3.5 dollars profit for every dollar invested. (8) This is one indicator of the increasing plunder that is being wrought upon the countries of Africa and that is having a serious effect on the standard of living of the peoples there.

The nature of imperialist interests in Africa was clearly stated by the above-mentioned Chester Crocker, when in a speech to the Senate on the occasion of his present appointment, in April 1981, he said that Africa was becoming increasingly important to the achievement of the United States' global objectives. He then went on further to outline the main goals that Washington intended to achieve there. These included ensuring for the United States and its allies the so-called just access to oil and non-fuel resources; expanding American trade and investment; and cooperating with Western allies and friends in Africa to "hold back" the enemies of the United States.


(1) Africa Report, Vol. 25, No. 4, July-August 1980, p. 4.

(2) Calculated from United States Interest in Africa, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, 96th Congress, 1st Session, October 16, 18, 19, 22, 24, 25, 29; November 13, 14; 1979, Washington, 1980, pp. 215-17.

(3) Calculated from United Stales Interest in Africa, op. cit., pp. 215-17.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Africa Report, Vol. 27, No. 3, May-June 1982, p. 22.

(6) Ibid., p. 19.

(7) Ibid., p. 39.

(8) Calculated from Survey of Current Business, Vol. 63, No. 8, August 1983, Washington, pp. 29-30.


The Main Objectives and the Methods Employed - Back

Next - Strategic Significance


Translated from the Russian
Designed by Oleg Grebenyuk
Белый дом и черный континент
На английском языке
Group of Authors: An. A. Gromyko (Editor's Note);
Ye. A. Tarabrin (Ch. I, III, Conclusion); V. P. Kasatkin (Ch. II
IX); V. Ya. Lebedev (Ch. IV); A. Yu. Urnov (Ch V)-
V. S. Baskin (Ch. VI); A. V. Prudnikov (Ch. VII)-
M. L. Vishnevsky (Ch. VIII)
Издательство "Прогресс", 1984.
English translation. Progress Publishers 1984
Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


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