Neocolonialism Trade and Cocoa Essay

Total Length: 1535 words ( 5 double-spaced pages)

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Introduction



Colonialism marked the expansion and power of countries like Britain and France. The British and French had substantial influence and power in places like Cameroon, Chad, Congo, and South Africa. After some time passed, these former colonies gained independence and attempted to stabilize their respective economies. However, most gained no ground and remained dependent on things like foreign aid to survive. Such hardship brought in a new form of power dynamics, neocolonialism. Neocolonialism is a stark reminder of the power developed nations have over former colonies; West Africa's cocoa industry demonstrates how poorer nations remain poor through the limited export of raw resources that maintain dependence and diminish innovation.



Background



Neocolonialism is “a situation of infringed national sovereignty and intrusive influence by external elements” (Langan, 2018, p. 1). While countless scholars may feel ‘squeamish’ if someone invokes the term, it rings true for the various situations African countries face that were former colonies. These individual African states have endured colonization and economic destabilization all while attempting to circumvent past certain obstacles. It is important that scholars not ignore the very real actions by developed nations to maintain African dependence on foreign countries. “...development interventions in Africa by external elements, both corporate and donor…is the continuation of external control over African territories by newer and more subtler methods than that exercised under formal Empire” (Langan, 2018, p. 4).



Things like foreign aid for example, are high interest loans that do nothing but keep African governments in crippling debt. Even if foreign aid does not come in the form of loans, it comes with strings. “…indicated that aid monies would not only be used to bring about economic policy change conducive to the extraction of raw material wealth but would also be used to fund infrastructure projects conducive to this ‘robbery’” (Langan, 2018, p. 63). This helps introduce the cocoa industry in West Africa. Raw resources like food and minerals has become the main export of many African nations. They cannot subsist unless they farm certain crops or allow the mining of their vast reserves of minerals thus leading to a stifling of innovation and continued inability to achieve economic prosperity.




West African Cocoa Industry in the 1960’s



The 1960’s brought a production boom of cocoa in several African countries. This led to overproduction and reduction of selling price of cocoa around the world. Cocoa while easily sold can only earn so much for African nations and thus these countries cannot hope to develop a robust economy. Value-added prices can only be done on manufactured goods.



If for example, Ghana manufactured its own chocolate bars and sold them as organic and fair-trade, they would make more money from their product than just selling cocoa beans. However, changes within these countries and trading agreements between them and their former colonizers generated a different environment away from manufacturing. Furthermore, the rapid industrialization of the time, made it easier and cheaper to grow cocoa beans allowing developed nations like Britain and the United States to offer cheap buying prices. All combined it made it easier for exploitation of raw materials to occur and stifle African manufacturing and processing. “The decade 1960-69 created a new kind of demand for agricultural products of West African countries of Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Rapid industrialization in these countries created an additional load of satisfying the intermediate input demands of domestic industry” (Acquaah, 1999, p. 152).



West African Cocoa Industry Now



The cacao bean grows mainly in West Africa’s tropical climates in countries like the Ivory Coast and Ghana. They supply up to 70% of the global supply of cocoa. Major chocolate companies like Hershey’s, Nestle, and Mars buy the harvested cocoa (FEP, 2018). What some may not know is that the means of producing, growing, and harvesting cocoa in those regions include child labor. There is rampant government corruption in those countries from the cocoa industry.



But why is there so much corruption and why are there child laborers? Put simply, child labor allows for the price of cocoa to remain low, so these countries can sell their product.



In Western Africa, cocoa is a commodity crop grown primarily….....

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References

Acquaah, B. (1999). Cocoa development in West Africa: The early period with particular reference to Ghana. Accra: Ghana universities Press.

FEP. (2018). Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry | Food Empowerment Project. Retrieved from http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/

Hauser, W. K. (2017). Invisible Slaves: The Victims and Perpetrators of Modern-Day Slavery. Chicago: Hoover Institution Press.

Keefe, B. (2016, March 1). Inside Big Chocolate's Child Labor Problem. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/big-chocolate-child-labor/

Langan, M. (2018). Neo-colonialism and the poverty of 'development' in Africa (1st ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.

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