How Britain corrupts Africa and makes it poorer
Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society and author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles published by Portobello Books
By Richard Dowden
So now we know – a little more. We always knew that in 2001 Britain’s BAE systems sold Tanzania a £28 million air traffic control system. The World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organisation said it was unnecessarily sophisticated and overpriced. At the time Clare Short, then minister for International Development, claimed that bribery was involved. Some calculated that the BAE system which Tanzania bought cost four times the system that Tanzania actually needed. It was a military system but Tanzania barely has an air force. Nevertheless Tony Blair personally pushed the deal.
Last week BAE paid £288 million to the courts in America and Britain for, in its own words, “conspiring to make false statements... in connection with certain regulatory filings and undertakings”. The British settlement admits to “payments made to a former marketing adviser in Tanzania” in connection with that air traffic control system. The US settlement refers explicitly to paying bribes.
As part of the settlement further investigation into the Tanzanian air traffic control system will stop and the facts so far established will be kept secret. So – astoundingly – will the investigation into other corruption allegations including the South African £5.5 billion arms deal in which BAE was a partner. Tony Blair also supported that deal. BAE was not on the original shortlist but was decided at a late stage by the then South African Defence Minister, Joe Modise, and included sophisticated fighter jets that the South African Air Force had never asked for. Some of them have never left their hangers – there are no pilots to fly them. The South Africans have already established that Modise and one of his advisers received £15 million in bribes, part of more than £100 million paid in bribes to secure the deal.
Has justice been done? Transparency International has welcomed the deal saying the Serious Fraud Office and the Department of Justice “should be congratulated for achieving an outcome”. But there is no transparency here. It may be fine for the UK – a major British company has been allowed to “draw a line under its past”. But what about Britain’s international reputation? And what about the people of Tanzania and South Africa who politicians and officials have been bribed? Are they not the biggest losers in these crimes?
For justice to be done the facts must exposed which a court case would have done. Tanzania’s people will now never know which of their ministers and officials were bribed and how much they were given. Instead they are given a “charitable payment” by BAE of £15 million. That’s an insulting bung that smells like yet another bribe. Tanzania has already wasted perhaps £21 million which should have gone to build schools, roads, clinics and generally reduce poverty. Instead members of its government have been bribed to waste that money, corrupted by Britain. Corrupt and powerful Tanzanians are now more powerful and much richer.
Corruption breeds corruption and I believe it is one of the most potent factors holding Africa back and preventing development. In Britain the security services now watch intensely for movements of money for terrorism, drugs and corruption. But corruption money comes a poor third to the other two. I would argue that corruption almost certainly kills more people than terrorism and the drug trade combined. The more public funds – some of them our taxes – that are stolen and go into the offshore bank accounts of corrupt officials and politicians, the less goes on health, education and development.
That loss kills people. In 2001 Tanzania was then the third poorest country in the world with an infant mortality rate of 91 deaths per thousand births. In Britain it is six. South Africa is an even better example. As that £5.5 billion arms deal was going through President Thabo Mbeki was arguing that country could not afford the £25 a month anti retroviral drugs for the estimated 5.5 million South Africans who were HIV Positive. Work it out for yourself.
Another irony in all of this is that when it was realised that there had never been a single successful prosecution in the UK for overseas bribery, the government decided to beef up the police unit that should be dealing with it. But there was no money. The money had to come from the Department for International Development which now diverts aid money to subsidise the policing of Britain’s international obligations.
BAE on the other hand is exceptionally close to the military and security departments of the British government. Some say it is a commercial extension of the MoD and the Security Services. Clare Short strongly believed at the time there had been bribery in Tanzania. She has been proved right. It is inconceivable that Blair did not know about it. He called Africa “a scar on the conscience of the world”. Perhaps Tanzania and South Africa are the scars on his conscience. The next time a British minister stands up to denounces corruption in Africa there will be hollow laughter from the continent. Rightly so.
precisely my humble sentiments....
thanks for putting in better words than i could what many have long argued. in addition, there has been an eagerness by the west to give sanctuary to thieves over the decades (britain and france in particular), along with their ill gotten proceeds. this has not been limited to african looters. britain is chock full of exiled russian oligarchs today, conducting their murky and often illicit business under her majestys protection. in earlier times it was the arabs at the height of the 70s/80s oil boom who bought huge chunks of bayswater and regents park. all of this causes rot from within. you cannot contribute to the corruption of others without being corrupt yourself.
Swiss Banks: Demands By America & Nigeria
I think its more like How the west corrupts Africa and makes it poorer!
Switzerland practically runs its economy from 100s of billions of dollars stolen from Africa. I dare say it is the same for many western countries.
I have always maintained that nemesis will catch up to these countries, a good chunk of Africa will emigrate to the west so they can realise their dreams in countries being funded by looted monies from their homelands.
everyday as I look at western countries I rejoice that they are being forced to accept multiculturalism and a chunk of Africa's population because of crimes they have and are committing to the continent.
there will not have been an Obama if Kenyan had not been raped and looted by the British, his father will not have had need to go to a foreign university to gain education if Kenya had sustained its wealth and built good schools.
I will have my children in the west, educate them with western funds, feed them with western funds and do all I can to gain everything I can from these evil people!
October 8, 2007
Nigeria’s current attorney general, Mr. Andoakaa is blissfully oblivious of the gargantuan effect that corruption has on Nigeria and perhaps, what is worse than that, is that the AG is willfully conniving, colluding and abetting the escape of corrupt public officials and ex-officials. Corruption is Nigeria’s public enemy number one. Mr. Andoakaa is enabling corrupt persons to escape legal consequences for their illegal acts. As a corollary to America’s war on terrorism, anyone who provide succor to those who are corrupt and allow corruption to fester in Nigeria, is Nigeria’s public enemy number one!
Corruption is worse than terrorism
A comparison of corruption devastation on Nigeria with the effects of terrorism on America will show that the impact of corruption on Nigeria, is more catastrophic and cataclysmic, across the land, whereas, terror attacks physical damage on America is localized and limited to three cities; vide New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.
The impact of pervasive corruption in Nigeria, its impact on daily life, its magnitude and far reaching ramifications on public infrastructure, the criminal justice system, the overwhelming permeation of corruption on how life is lived in Nigeria is glaringly obvious
Corruption hinders tourism, as when there is insecurity in the land and when unnecessary road blocks creates nightmares for road travelers.
Corruption hinders national and international trade, as when Customs official corruptly hinders the transportation of goods. Customs officers become impediments and obstacles impeding free flow of goods and services. Saw dust, sand and radioactive chemical waste have been imported into Nigeria, while Customs corruptly looks the other way
The above is an excerpt from an article written and published on October 8, 2007 with this title below
Minister Andoakaa SAN, AG, Nigeria’s Public Enemy Number One!
Sure this man knows what he is talking about. And I am still wondering why former UK civil servant, especially those who worked in the foreign services are not coming forward now to disclose all the past classified information they have on Nigeria.
Really my experiences in the UK (Education) gave me a great knowledge about what, why and how Britain destroyed and still continues to hurt Nigeria and a greater majority of her citizens.
What truly amazes me is how Ghana has broken free from that curses, and still manages to maintain it, escape from that stranglehold, breathe a fresh air to now be able to build and develop their nation, with social justice and equality for all her citizens.
[I]Corruption breeds corruption and I believe it is one of the most potent factors holding Africa back and preventing development. In Britain the security services now watch intensely for movements of money for terrorism, drugs and corruption. But corruption money comes to a poor third to the other two. I would argue that corruption almost certainly kills more people than terrorism and the drug trade combined. The more public funds some of them our taxes that is stolen and goes into the offshore bank accounts of corrupt officials and politicians, the less goes on health, education and development.[/I]
Thanks for sharing and caring, Since 500 years the Anglo-white people developed the bizarre luxury of riding on African backs. What kind of a human being will wake up one day having the irresistible urge to enslave another man, chain him, lynch him, sale his babies and rape his daughters ands wives ?
His origins and values dont earn my respect but his innovation and entrepreneurship to make this an enjoyable world is recommendable.
But I dont buy into the silliness that to cure our problem white man has to stop cheating us. They never try to corrupt their own country on such primitive large scale because their folk will hold them responsible, WHO STOPPED US HOLDING OUR LEADERS RESPONSIBLE?
Pls don't be amazed.Facts cannot be denied that there was great difference between Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Sir Abubakar Tafa Balewa.
Dr. Nkrumah was a dynamic nation builder.He laid solid foundation for the newly emerged Republic of Ghana.
Our own Sir Tafa Balewa along with his godfather Sir Ahmadu Bellohowever devotedprecious time to fightingpolitical opponents. Or are you aware of any nation building work did by our then Prime Minister? None,to the best of my knowledge.Balewa's six years in office was a total waste.
The differnce is still theretoday and your eyes are not seeing double.
Yes! Until we hold our leaders responsible andstopped to honour and worship and sing praises of those who are stealing from public treasury, we shall remain a people that is not ready and not serious to make the much needed change for the better.
I dislike the Niger Delta militants for the simple reason that while they take on the Federal Government, they however do nothing about their own thieving leaders.
Our AGF is a menace,yet, his loud mouthed stooge home folks have not written a single line to condemn his actions.
Some people look the other way when a corrupt person is from his ethnic group or is a relative.Let us not cover and protect the thieves among us no matter how close he/she is to us.Protecting corrupt people is also corruption.
Thieves are ordained in our churches, turbanned in the mosques,made chiefs in local communities and elected into political offices when indeed weought to hang them and leave them there hanging.
Is it any wonder then if white folks are taking us for a ride?