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Economic Sovereignty

Independence was an important moment in the struggle of African peoples for self-determination. But access to international sovereignty did not put an end to all facets of European colonial domination. The progressive Africanization of political and administrative structures has erased some visible aspects of classical colonialism. Other aspects, such as the domination of the former colonial metropolises and their corporations over the natural resources, foreign trade, banking and other strategic sectors, etc. of their former colonies, survived independence. Kwame Nkrumah captured this situation in his time with the concept of neo-colonialism. “The essence of neo-colonialism, Nkrumah wrote, is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.

Nowadays, the relations between the former metropolises and their former colonies are not as close as in the past. Even if England, France, Portugal, etc. keep, depending on the case, a more or less important influence in their respective colonial empire, their market shares and the domination of their companies have been eroded by competition from countries such as the United States, China, Germany, India, etc. This diversification of economic, financial and diplomatic relations, etc., has not yet enabled most countries to move away from the model of primary specialization inherited from the colonial period, and which still places them in a peripheral position in the international division of labor. Unfortunately, the policies pursued by governments following the advice of the International Financial Institutions, such as free trade, financial liberalization, privatization of public enterprises and the withdrawal of the state, fiscal austerity, etc., seem to push them further into a dead end.

The demand for economic and monetary sovereignty, supported by a large number of social movements and intellectuals, expresses the desire to see the African continent have free rein over its resources, its instruments of action, the orientation of its development and the definition of its economic and social priorities. It therefore implies a resistance against economic imperialism, in its different forms, as well as epistemologies of colonial essence and those that justify economic and social inequalities.