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The Scramble for Africa - Essay Example

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The impact of globalization on Africa has illustrated its dangers. Just as capitalism needed to be regulated in the United States and other market economies in the industrial age to protect people from the abuse of companies in the name of profit, a worldwide effort arguably needs to be made to protect the most vulnerable people in the world from corporate abuse when their own governments will not do so. According to Simon Taylor, director of Global Witness, a globalization watchdog, G8 countries need to take the lead in preventing this kind of abuse, as their companies are the most likely to be benefiting from it. He asserts, "Western companies and banks have colluded in stripping Africa's resources. We need to track revenues from oil, mining and logging into national budgets to make sure that the money isn't siphoned off by corrupt officials" (par. 4).
The potential for Africa to produce huge profits for foreign investors is undeniable. The continent is shaping up to be the highest potential investment area in the world. "Sub-Saharan Africa may be the poorest region in the world but it is also its most profitable investment destination. According to the World Bank's 2003 global development finance report, the continent offers 'the highest returns on foreign direct investment of any region in the world'" (Wright 2005, par. 7). It is only a matter of time before this fact will influence the behavior of foreign companies. "At the moment only around 1% of the private capital that is sloshing around the globe finds its way into sub-Saharan Africa. But there is an increasing band of intrepid international companies that are initiating a new scramble for Africa. Like the colonial pioneers before them, they have found that the strategy can be risky but the potential rewards are enormous" (par. 8).
The African continent's wealth of oil and diamonds is the primary target of this latest "scramble." Oil in particular has led developed nations to eye Africa, particularly given the recent escalation of prices. "Spurred by rising global oil prices and depleting reservoirs nearer home, the world's biggest energy-consuming countries have re-discovered Africa. Oil production across that least-developed continent is set to double by the end of the decade, with the US alone importing more than a quarter of its requirements from there. Africa is expected to supply one-fifth of global output by 2010" ("Oil exploration" 2005, par. 2).
Competition for this African resource is fierce, and threatens to inflict serious injury on local populations. "As the world's oil becomes depleted, the energy-intensive developed countries face each other in mounting competition for the remaining resources. This trend could have major economic, political, social and environmental implications for regions such as Africa" (par. 1). Unfettered by the kind of government regulation constraining huge multinational oil companies in developed countries, there is a grave risk that they could fail to implement environmental and other safeguards, thereby risking the health and safety of the local populations. Further, an environmental disaster such as an oil spill or refinery explosion could have tremendous economic ...Show more
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The trend toward globalization has produced a new "Scramble for Africa" in which multinational companies have been seeking to capitalize on the natural resources and investment potential of the world's poorest continent. Similar to the undertaking of Europe's great colonial powers to carve up Africa into colonies in a bid to exploit its resources, corporations have been jockeying to strike deals with corrupt regimes to exploit those resources in the name of profit, often to the detriment of the local populations…
The Scramble for Africa
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