France and U.S. Aid to Gabon: Sustaining a Dictator

As the top two contributors of foreign aid to Gabon, the United States and France have continued to allocate foreign aid to the central African country under the guise of economic and civil development, but in reality it has mostly contributed to sustaining/financially enriching the Bongo family and helping them remain in power illegitimately in exchange of a few favors.

France and Gabon signed contracts under Françafrique that ensured that France’s interests such as access to Gabonese oil, manganese, other minerals will be met. France also has a crucial military base in Gabon. In exchange for these favors, France offers economic, political, and military aid to Gabon (to Gabonese presidents). In spite of the millions that France sends to Gabon every year, there has not been substantial economic or political improvements in the country. In the country, corruption has increased and the President Bongo and his family are building up their wealth with the majority of their investments and properties in France.

Dambisa Moyo is correct in Dead Aid when he states that aid goes to foreign countries which in turn increases corruption. The foreign aid that Gabon receives from France is a perfect illustration of the foreign aid that Gabon receives from France and the United States. Gabon is notorious for its autocratic government and for having been ruled by the longest standing African head of state until his death. Nevertheless, the United States has continued to offer foreign aid in the form of military training and other capital.

The United States justified its aid to Gabon by highlighting Gabon’s efforts in maintaining peace in the Central African region as well as for its efforts to maintain maritime wildlife and other environmental engagements. In 2012, the United States gave about five million dollars in aid to Gabon for Security Assistance, Development Aid, and Health Aid, and other. The largest portion of the aid that the United States gives to Gabon ($4,442,350) is not invested in security efforts, not in the health department, nor for development. It goes towards “other” spending. It is peculiar that the United States will continue to give aid to Gabon when the majority of the aid does not even go towards what it was planned for and given the corrupt background of the dictators of the county. One can only deduce that the majority of the aid that is listed under “others” goes to the private funds of president Bongo and his family.

The United States and France have continued to give aid to president Bongo even though his fortune is growing without substantial development in the country. President Ali Bongo has more than thirty-nine properties in France. He has also inherited his father’s (president of Gabon from 1967-2009) assets which amount to seventy bank accounts in Paris and Nice. The foreign aid that the U.S. and Gabon give to France is beneficial to the elite, starting with the presidential family, but does not trickle down to citizens.

Propping Up Africa’s Dictators

http://us-foreign-aid.insidegov.com/l/63/Gabon

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1920548,00.html

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