TANZANIA — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday warned of a creeping “new colonialism” in Africa from foreign investors and governments interested only in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves.
African leaders must ensure that foreign projects are sustainable and benefit all their citizens, not only elites, she said.
Clinton did not identify any perceived culprits, but a day earlier she had urged scrutiny of China’s large investments and business interests in Africa so that the African people are not taken advantage of. She said U.S. diplomats in Africa had been asked to provide Washington with assessments of Chinese projects in the countries to which they are assigned.
“We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” Clinton said Saturday in the Zambian capital of Lusaka before flying to Tanzania. “And when you leave, you don’t leave much behind for the people who are there. We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa.”
Although she didn’t mention China by name, officials traveling with Clinton said she wanted to stress that African countries should hold Chinese investors to the same standards that they apply to Americans and Europeans.
Clinton said the United States didn’t want any foreign governments or investors to fail in Africa, but wanted to make sure that they give back to local communities.
“We want them to do well, but also we want them to do good,” she said.
“We don’t want them to undermine good governance, we don’t want them to basically deal with just the top elites, and frankly too often pay for their concessions or their opportunities to invest.”
Clinton said that American development aid and public works projects come with good governance conditions and that the Obama administration is interested in Africa and its people. Their success, she said, is in everyone’s long-term interest.
Her comments, in a pan-African television interview in Lusaka, came immediately after she presided over the handover of a U.S. built pediatric hospital in Lusaka to the Zambian government. The hospital will specialize in preventing the transmission of HIV from mothers to children and Clinton announced a boost of $15 million in U.S. funding to Zambia to help fight HIV/AIDS.
Earlier, at the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Zambia Chamber of Commerce, Clinton laid out the U.S. strategy for helping Africa.
“We want a relationship of partnership not patronage, of sustainability, not quick fixes,” she said. “We want to establish a strong foundation to attract new investment, open new businesses … create more paychecks, and do so within the context of a positive ethic of corporate responsibility.”
“We think it’s essential that we have an idea going in that doing well is not in any way a contradiction of doing good,” she said.
Clinton was the first secretary of state to visit Zambia since Henry Kissinger came in 1976 to lay out the Ford administration’s policy for southern Africa as revolts against white minority rule in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia were intensifying.
After leaving Zambia, Clinton flew to Tanzania, the second stop on a three-nation tour of Africa focused on trade, development, health and women’s empowerment. Clinton arrived in Zambia from the United Arab Emirates, where she attended an international conference on Libya. After Tanzania, she will head to Ethiopia before returning to Washington next week.