Neo-Colonialism: A major obstacle to the process of nation-building in Africa

February 18, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Durodola Tosin



Neo-colonialism is the involvement of former powers and foreign business companies in the exploitation of resources of post-colonial people in Africa.  Neo-colonialism took place after independence in Africa; it is not a physical colonialism but still controlling.

The socio-economic, religious and cultural legacies still penetrate all aspect of human lives. The imperialist maintained presence in the economies of former colonies, its governance to maintain the flow of raw materials and prices under the conditions which benefitted the developed countries. From all indications the independence granted did not necessarily mean the end of all political and economic dependence in foreign trade and direct investment. There were still so many constraints on Africa sovereignty.



Neo colonialism is a critical concept in the study, understanding and analysis of the obstacles to the process of nation building in Africa. The concept of Neo-colonialism has been subjected to various definitions by series of scholars like M.B. Brown who sees Neo-colonialism as the “survival of the colonial system in spite of formal recognition of political independence in emerging countries, which became the victims of an indirect and subtle form of domination by political, economic, social, military or technical forces”. Also, the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana defines Neo-colonialism to mean “the worst form of imperialism” ; he added that it means it is exploitation without redress.

Neo-colonialism is the undue subjection of former colonies and dependencies to a new form of colonialism after the independence movement of the post-World War 1 period. African countries are independent in name and remained pawns of the colonial powers which were supposed to have given them independence.



Neo-colonialism has impeded nation building by reducing Africa into cheap suppliers of raw materials and cheap labour in the service of the world capitalist profit without having any power in fixing prices. This is as a result of the unfavourable position of African countries in the international economic system after the incorporation of their economy into the global capitalist system by their former colonial masters. They have been placed at a disadvantageous position and the role and allocation of resources have been unequal compared to the developed countries.

The developed countries of the world import raw materials and resources from Africa at their own desired price and export finished goods to Africa at a higher rate. This has created unfavourable balance and has increasingly reduced the chances of development and national integration in Africa.

African countries have been subjected to the demands of the developed countries since her economy has already been monetized and this has created a dependent relation between Africa and the developed countries. A dependent economy by which her resources has become a source of income to the developed countries with continued exploitation and distortion which has continued to make Africa less-developed and reduced the opportunity of nation building.

Furthermore, Neo-colonialism has hindered nation building in Africa through manipulations and distortions of Africa economies emanating from the centers of international capitalist economies. The involvement of transitional co-operations and other multilateral capitalist agencies in the economic activities of neo-colonial states to exercise any meaningful control over their economic resources has affected the process of nation building negatively.

The investment of Multi-national Corporation enriches only the few selected under-developed countries and causes humanitarian, ecological and environmental devastation to the other African countries. Credit Aid investment, foreign trade was designed to strengthen Africa dependence on the imperialist power and loans granted with collateral in place made the Africans depend on the imperialist. Foreign direct investment has depredated African economy coupled with the continued colonial control that has militated against a sustainable economic growth and development in Africa.

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization and the World Economic Forum are powerful financial institutions that fostered debts and are also weapons of neo-colonialism used in decisive forms to control African economies.

Moreover, Neo-colonialism has hindered nation building in Africa in the political aspect. Former colonial countries have continued to interfere in the political affairs of some African countries directly or indirectly. In some cases African states provided military base and standing armies of the alien powers on African soil especially in Francophone Africa. This unbroken relationship between former colonial masters and their colonies has made it difficult for national integration and economic development in Africa countries.

Continued close relationship between France and some leaders of its former African colonies to destabilize some African states is a little of the adverse effect of their relationship on nation building. They were liaising with their former colonies to destabilize some other African countries which have also complicated matters. France’s role in Nigeria civil war is another example of a country with only a profitable mindset. She supported the Biafra instead of taking steps to create a platform for unity in the country.

Neo-colonialism has caused incessant coup d’état and political incursions in various part of Africa which has impeded the process of nation building in Africa. In some part of Africa, government that do not share the political or economic view of their former colonial masters or developed countries have been either removed by coup d’état, assassination, civil incursions, violent campaigns and so on. French troops in Africa were often involved in coup d’état acting in the interest of France but against African interest. It was alleged that a French government minister, Jacques Focceart used French mercenaries to maintain a friendly government or overthrow an unfriendly government not in support of French interest in France’s former colony.

Furthermore, neo-colonialism has impeded the process of nation building in Africa due to the historical experiences of exploitation and the marginalization which has made African states economically dependent on developed countries. Africa has remained a major supplier of raw materials and consumer of finished goods. This has reduced African states to the situation of perpetual serfdom, poverty, foreign penetration and continued dependence on the industrialized nations.

The relation between the industrialized nations of the world and Africa in world trade was one of exploitation which worsened the economic problems of African states and the process of nation building in Africa. Neo-colonialism exploit third world nations through comprador bourgeoisie left behind by them, this comprador bourgeoisie only serve the selfish interest of the neo-colonialist without putting that of their home countries at heart. The neo-colonialist exploits them through Multi-national Corporations.

Moreover, neo-colonialism has hindered the process of nation building in Africa by facilitating debt crises. Africa’s indebtedness to industrialized companies of Europe is a major problem affecting national integration, growth and development in Africa. Africa burdened with external debts embarked on economic adjustment programmers sometimes prescribed by the creditor such that they were given terrible conditions with high interest rate, yet African leaders embraced them due to lack of better alternatives.

This structural adjustment programme has resulted to increasing poverty while foreign corporations enjoyed several concessions and monopoly. The plan has also resulted to deteriorating health conditions, poor education and inability to develop infrastructure and poor living standard in Africa. Powerful financial institutions like IMF have become weapons of neo-colonialism that foster debt and hinder nation building in Africa.

Furthermore, neo-colonialism has impeded the process of nation building in Africa as a result of technological gap. There has been the problem of increasing number of expatriates in the continent. This has eventually led to the increase in military budgets spurred by importation of military hard-wares and personnel.

Today, African states continued to face the problem of brain drain. Some African states continue to witness the increasing migration of qualified workers abroad due to the technological gap and economic gap between African states and Europe. Neo-colonialism has continued to increase this gap and thereby making it hard for nation building in Africa.

In conclusion, judging from this essay, neo-colonialism has hindered the process of nation building economically, socially, politically, technologically and historically. However, African countries should remove all the colonial structures in their economy, they should engage in processing of raw materials to finished goods in order to compete with foreign goods, they should engage in South-South Cooperation to facilitate inward trading activities and they should deter from elephant projects that would facilitate debt crisis in order to escape the domination of their former colonial masters.







  4. A .G, Hopkins (1973), “An Economic History of West Africa”, London: Longman Publishers.

  5. W, Rodney, “How Europe Under-developed Africa”





Durodola Tosin

Durodola Tosin is a writer and diplomat. He started writing professionally at the age of 12. He was a Columnist in Ekiti Glory Newspaper, Nigeria from 2009-2010 and was the Ekiti 2009 Winner of the PETs Competition “Poem Section”. His passion for writing was ignited by his Parents’ profession in Journalism.

He has written on several topics such as “The Effects of The Second World War on the Spirit of Self-Government and Self-Determination among African States”, “How Apt is the Description of 1920s in America History as The Jazz Age” and “Debt Crisis: A Major Developmental Issue in the Third World Countries”.

Durodola lives in Ekiti State, Nigeria. He is studying History and International Studies at Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, Nigeria and is currently conducting a research on “Nigeria’s Quest for a Permanent Seat at The UN Security Council”.


  1. Oluwatuyi Olawale May 31, at 05:57

    Nice writeup,history stuff is not that easy but I see you take your time to study about this...more freeze to your elbow...

  2. Kofi Asamoah April 28, at 15:11

    Bravo! Every bit of your write up on Neo-colonialism is right. We need more people like you in this country and in africa...May you be inspired to write more

  3. Bamisaye April 28, at 15:05

    Nice writeup Dude, it rellally shows you know alot about history....I love it


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