Growth in Africa and the Caribbean hindered by 400 years of European policies – PM Gonsalves
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves with group of Nigerian graduates at Bells University of Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
November 10, 2023
Growth in Africa and the Caribbean hindered by 400 years of European policies – PM Gonsalves

For 400 years, the trade and production policies of Europe retarded the growth of Africa and the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and can be summed up by the British slogan “Not a nail is to be made in the colonies.”

“This was a deliberate decision to retard the technology available for development within CARICOM countries; the same thing in Africa, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said, as he delivered the 15th Convocation lecture of the Bells University of Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria on Friday November 3.

Gonsalves said what this means is that CARICOM member states as well as many African States entered their nation building phases technologically and scientifically ill-equipped within the postmodern world economy.

The Prime Minister said as a consequence, generations of youth within the region have been denied membership and access to the science and technology culture and thus present an undue burden on the development of these states.

Gonsalves had earlier noted that he is hoping to form a collaboration between Bells University of Technology (Nigeria), the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) in an effort to address technological shortcomings that are present within our space.

Commenting further, Gonsalves said that the technology transfer and science for development by responsible European states are important parts of repairing the deliberate harm to the developmental prospects of countries within the Caribbean.

“You see, I tell you how these things are connected, the quest for reparations and also the one for the matter of science and technology and the emancipation of that science and technology.”

The Prime Minister said that the technology will not be emancipated unless you have a wider ‘emancipation’ of the political economy.”

“If you look, you will find that the unvarnished truth is that among other things, colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism encumbered development in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America in Asia in very special ways…”.

Listing some of the ways, Gonsalves said the Europeans restricted technological developments and technology transfers to the colonies and former colonies which have been and still are considered Hinterlands to the development metropolis.

“That is how the global economy is still largely structured.”

He said also that another way that development was restricted is that production in the colonies and former colonies focused largely on the raw materials or first level industrial activities, reserving for the Metropolitan centres in the North Atlantic, production processes which are, “far more advanced industrial undertakings based on the very primary products and resources from the Hinterland”.

Gonsalves said there was also limited education and training in science, technology and innovation, especially among young people in the developing world and the Metropolitan countries appropriated or stifled for their own benefit, the indigenous technologies of the colonized Hinterland.

“…They ensured that the banking, industrial and finance capital became fused and resident in the countries of the Metropolis so as to place those of the Hinterland in a more or less permanent condition of exploited dependency.

“You remember even recently when the matter came of some actions by independent countries against French neo-colonialism, that one of the things which came to light is that a certain amount of their foreign reserves are held in the Central Bank in France.

“Well that’s a barefaced way in which that one is done, but it’s done in other ways through corresponding banking relations and the dominance of banking capital and finance capital.

“That’s why it’s so important to have the Africa Exim Bank based in Cairo which is now 30 billion and by 2030, it’s estimated to be 60 billion, that’s where it would go. It has just opened a branch in the Caribbean in Barbados…” Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister, in his speech asked people to appreciate that nothing can ever be done without people, nothing is doable without high quality strategic leadership, nothing is achievable without the mobilization of appropriate resources and nothing is sustainable without specially crafted institutions.

He said that he is hoping that future collaborations are focused on science, technology and innovation and it must be noted that some persons have accepted the inadequate technological situation and have made statements along the line that the situation is permanent.

“…Indeed what has been amazing is that in some of our countries, some intellectuals have accepted that, sometimes you hear them talk and you wonder whether they are Afro-Saxons or Indo-Saxons as this thing from Anglo-Saxons and we have to be questioning all the time in whose interest particular propositions are advanced and when they are applied in whose interest they are applied…” Gonsalves said.

During the Gonsalves’s visit to Nigeria, he was conferred with an honorary degree, Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc) Management Sciences, by the Bells University of Technology.