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Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1842778111
ISBN-10: 1842778110
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Patrick Bond is senior professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where he has directed the Centre for Civil Society since 2004. He is the author of many acclaimed books on South Africa including Talk Left, Walk Right and Elite Transition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842778110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842778111
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,803,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on January 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
In 2005 the World Bank admitted that Africa is drained of wealth, through debt, phantom aid, capital flight, brain drain, unfair trade, export of primary products, and distorted investment. From 1980 to 2002, sub-Saharan Africa's debt rose from $61 billon to $206 billion, while it paid $255 billion in interest. Between 1970 and 1996, it also lost $285 billion in capital flight.

In 2000, 80% of Africa's exports were its nations' resources, compared to 31% for all developing countries. If nations stay stuck in the exporting commodities trap, they will not be able to develop industries and become self-reliant.

Bond shows how the EU loots Africa. The European Commission admitted that 70% of the EU's aid-for-trade programme was `support for the private sector'. The EU imposes trade liberalisation and privatisation, stripping Africa of what little industry it has. Trade liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa $272 billion since 1986, because local producers now sell less than they did before trade was liberalised.

In 2005, the G8 wrote off about 1% of Third world debt, $40 billion. Third world debt, $580 billion in 1980, had soared to $2.4 trillion in 2002. Since 1980, the Third World's working classes have paid $4.6 trillion - the equivalent of 50 Marshall Plans - to the First World's capitalists.

Labour migration is another key resource loss. 20,000 skilled workers leave Africa every year. Bond shows that the remittances sent home do not compensate for the loss of the skilled labour. Yet he then writes, "The progressive position on migration has always been to maintain support for the `globalization of people' (while opposing the `globalization of capital') and in the process to oppose border controls and arduous immigration restrictions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on October 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The total misery and underdevelopment of Africa has, after a period of neglect, regained much attention in Western nations the past few years. Several conferences as well as aid appeals, organized by NGO bureaucracies and pop stars, have been much in the picture for their supposed charitable efforts for the African poor. But to what degree to they actually address what the matter is with Africa?

Patrick Bond, somewhat well-known in radical circles as a political economist, has written "Looting Africa" to summarize how global capital and its comprador elites within Africa have systematically plundered and ruined the continent before and after independence. Even now, the average income of Africans is lower than it was in the 1960s, and if one applies the necessary correctives to GDP tallies, many African nations have been losing per capita income as the result of foreign investment. Moreover, neoliberal programmes of privatization and monetarism have made the poor worse and worse off, without leading to any significant improvement in growth or development. Combine this with the massive theft of African production by local dictators and foreign multinationals, the extreme monoculture production of many African nations, and the unfair trade practices in agriculture on the part of Western nations (in particular the EU), and you have a recipe for disaster.

Bond's analysis is telling and summarizes the issues well, making the book serve as a useful primer for further research into African political economy. He is somewhat vacillating and vague about possible solutions though, fixing some hope on radical NGOs and World Social Forums, but without explaining anything much in detail. It is also a pity that immigration from Africa to elsewhere, in particular Europe, is not addressed in the book. Nevertheless, this is a good popular introduction to the plunder of Africa in the past decades.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Sherman on January 11, 2009
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In Looting Africa, Patrick Bond basically updates Walter Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. While Africa is often portrayed in global media as the hapless beneficiary of well intentioned aid and charitable campaigns, Bond emphasizes the many ways wealth is pulled out of the continent--through dividend and debt payments, unequal exchange, brain drains, and such. Aid is often a poisoned chalice that comes with demands that markets be opened to Western economic interests. The same is true of much ballyhooed debt relief. China's recent involvement in Africa is portrayed no more sympathetically. China cuts deals with exploitative rulers and uses Chinese workers on projects like oil refineries. Bond also emphasizes the collaboration of African elites in the neoliberal plunder--South Africa economically exploits its neighbors, while NEPAD locks Africa into neoliberalism. Although he occasionally sympathetically quotes NGO reports, for the most part, he believes that grassroots social movements are the only real hope for change.
It is this final point that I think is the weakest in the book. Although there is certainly some truth to the notion that a politics that seeks to genuinely promote the social good is going to be grounded among the people with nothing to lose in the current system, I think its a strategic mistake to flatten the politics of all other actors into a single exploitative neoliberalism, that, at most 'talks left, walks right' (as he argues was the case with Mandela's opposition to the Iraq war, while the ANC allowed the US to use South Africa in some ways to supprt the war). This is basically a politics of failing to see anything short of a revolutionary rejection of the system as a fraud. I think its short sighted, and will lead to a confused strategy.
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