The following text is an excerpt from the book – African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions, edited by Firoze Manji and Sokari Ekine. The selected part is under the contribution of Jean-Paul Pougala titled ‘The lies behind the West’s war on Libya’. When I read that section one question popped in my mind: How many African leaders have thought either in the past or recent history so radically and accompanied their ideas with concrete actions in the general interests of the whole continent? One might argue that not every African country has been as wealthy in petrol/oil as Libya under Gaddafi.
It was Gaddafi’s Libya that offered all of Africa its first revolution in modern times – connecting the entire continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching. And thanks to the WMAX radio bridge, a low-cost connection was made available across the continent including in rural areas.
It began in 1992, when 45 African states established RASCOM (the regional African Satellite Communication Organisation) so that Africa would have its own satellite and slash communication costs in the continent. This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual $500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites for phone conversations, including those within the same country.
An African satellite only costs a one-time payment of $400 million and the continent would no longer have to pay a $500 million annual lease. Which banker would not finance such a project? But the problem remained – how can slaves, seeking to free themselves from their master’s exploitation, ask the master’s help to achieve that freedom? Not surprisingly, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the US and Europe made only vague promises for 14 years. Gaddafi put an end to these futile pleas to Western ‘benefactors’ with their exorbitant interest rates. The Libyans put $300 million on the table; the African Development Bank added $50 million more and the West African Development Bank a further $27 million – and that is how Africa got its first communications satellite on 26 December 2007.
China and Russia followed suit and shared their technology and helped launched satellites for South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, while a second African satellite was launched in July 2010. The first totally indigenously built satellite, manufactured on African soil in Algeria, is set for 2010. This satellite is aimed at competing with the best in the best world, but at ten times less the cost – a real challenge.
This is how a symbolic gesture of a mere $300 million changed the life of an entire continent. Gaddafi’s Libya cost the West, not just depriving it of $500 million per year but the billions of dollars in debt and interest that the initial loan would generate for years to come and in an exponential manner, thereby helping maintain an ‘occult’ system in order to plunder the continent.