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Neo-colonialism in west Africa

Samir Amin

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While the economic and historical literature on the English-speaking countries of West Africa is comparatively rich, little comparable study and analysis have been accomplished for the French-speaking portion.
This study does not deal with the whole geographical region, but only with the nine French-speaking states, Ghana and the Gambia.
What the author presents here is essentially the political economy of what was formerly French West Africa. The first part of the book analyzes the historical stages of outward-directed colonial development, going back as far as is necessary for each country to understand the present structure of its economy. The second part discusses the impasses into which this outward-directed development has led West Africa : the permanent crisis of public finances and the foreign dependence which resulted from this, the fragmentation of the area, and the directing of economic growth outward with a resulting impoverishment and underdevelopment of the inner economy.
The various attempts at solutions to these problems, liberal and conservative alike, have not changed the situation, and Samir Amin attempts to understand and explain why these attempts to achieve economic independence have not succeeded.
At the end of his economic analysis, he reaches the « unambiguous conclusion » that « the fragmentation of economic area which West Africa has undergone constitutes an irresistible pressure for the maintenance of colonial structures and policies and colonial « development », and that these in turn no less irresistibly produce foreign domination and underdevelopment ».

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