International Man: Former Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi once warned that “Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration… it could turn into Africa.”
Since the United States and NATO helped overthrow Ghaddafi in 2011, millions of migrants from Africa and the Middle East have poured into Europe. Many transited from Libya.
This is all well known, and all signs point to this trend accelerating. What’s your take on where this is going?
Doug Casey: First, it’s a pity Ghaddafi was taken out. Another disastrous US policy decision. Not that he was a nice guy—no one running an artificially constructed nation-state can be. But it was at least a stable situation. Now it’s been replaced by a bloody and costly war. And it’s complete chaos. Nice work Hillary and Obama. But let’s talk about Africa at large.
Africa, or at least migration in and out of Africa, is going to be the epicenter of what’s happening in the world for the rest of this century.
Africa has gone from being just an empty space on the map in the 19th century, to a bunch of backwater colonies in the 20th century, to a bunch of chaotic failed states that most people are only vaguely aware of today. Soon, however, it will be continuing front-page news. This is because Chinese are moving to Africa in record numbers while Africans are leaving as fast as they can.
What we’re looking at is actually the biggest migration since the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire. There will be tens of millions—scores of millions—of Africans trying to get into Europe. I don’t know how the Europeans will keep them out. I used to say Europe was going to be a petting zoo for the Chinese, but it may be more of a squatter’s camp for the Africans.
Africa is the only part of the world where the population is still growing and growing rapidly. Africa south of the Sahara was about 6% of the world’s population in the ’50s, now it’s about 16%. But by the turn of the century, it’s going to be 45%. Assuming there isn’t some kind of catastrophe. It’s not clear that the Africans can grow enough food for billions more people.
In fact, if the West stops supporting the continent with capital and technology, it could be in for very tough times. Wakanda, the country in “Black Panther”, doesn’t exist. On the contrary, the continent is full of Gondwana lookalikes. Gondwana is where most of the action takes place in Speculator, the novel John Hunt and I wrote. It’s the first of seven in the High Ground series.
Few people realize how fast the population is growing, and things are changing in Africa. I ask knowledgeable people what they think the biggest cities in the world will be at the turn of the next century. They all guess cities in China or India.
But that’s not true. Eighty years from now, Lagos, Nigeria, will be the largest city in the world. It’s on track to have a population of more than 90 million. The world’s second biggest city will be Kinshasa in the Congo with about 80 million people. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, will be the world’s third biggest city with a population of roughly 75 million people. It’s quite amazing. When I first visited Dar in the early ’80s, it was a quiet, exotic seaport with old tramp steamers in the harbor.
Now all those people have cell phones, and they’re well aware of the fact that the standard of living is vastly higher in Europe and every other part of the world than in Africa. And they’re well aware of the fact that there are welfare benefits of all types if they can get to Europe.
There are hundreds of NGOs encouraging Africans to come across the Mediterranean to Europe. Or for that matter, flying them to the US. Exactly who paid the airfare and legal and living expenses of the 200,000 penniless Somalis who were transplanted to Minnesota?
It’s a growing tidal wave. With the European population diminishing and the African population growing, you’re going to see Europe basically taken over by Africa in the next several generations.
International Man: What we don’t hear as much about is the massive migration of the Chinese to Africa that’s taking place.
Doug, you’ve spent a lot of time in Africa. What’s going on with all this?
Doug Casey: We’re seeing a veritable recolonization of Africa. Each time I visit Africa, there are more Chinese. It doesn’t matter which country; they’re everywhere.
Rich Chinese are smart to diversify to developed Western countries. Poor Chinese go to backward countries to try to become wealthy. Africa is the prime recipient.
It’s supposed to be official Chinese policy to migrate about 300 million Chinese to Africa in the years to come. They’re employed in building roads, railroads, ports, mines, and other infrastructure. It’s partially driven by their Belt and Road Initiative.
The Chinese are lending billions to African governments. African governments are, by an order of magnitude, the most corrupt in the world. And the people who run these African governments are being well compensated for making deals with the Chinese. And in effect, selling out their countrymen. All these governments are full of people trying to be “Mister 10%.”
The worst case for them is to retire as centimillionaires, to live high off the hog in France or Switzerland. So, they’ve got nothing to lose. It’s a fairly unstoppable trend at this point.
Regardless of how much is stolen, however, I expect the Chinese are going to want the money they loaned to the Africans back, with interest.
If bribing or intimidating political leaders proves ineffective in getting it back, it’s possible that they’ll put soldiers’ boots on the ground. They could send in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to defend their assets. Or send in assassins to take out recalcitrant African politicians.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find the PLA in Africa in the years to come, physically collecting on those debts. And to make it easier for them, they’re going to be greeted by lots of Chinese already there.
It will be interesting to see what happens when a couple hundred million Chinese are living with a radically expanding native African population.
If the Africans were unhappy with European colonization, I think they’re going to be very, very unhappy with the Chinese colonization. The Chinese will not be “inclusive” and PC like today’s Westerners. It has the makings of a race war a generation or so in the future.
International Man: What about Africa piques the interests of the Chinese?
Doug Casey: It’s important to remember that Africa doesn’t produce anything besides raw materials—and people. There’s close to zero manufacturing—like 1% of the world’s total—in sub-Saharan Africa. And almost all of that is in South Africa.
The Chinese see Africans as no more than a cheap and dispensable labor source. That’s at best. Other than that, they’re viewed as a complete nuisance. Basically an obstacle—a cost—standing in the way of efficient use of the resources of the continent itself.
What do the Chinese people think of Africans? They don’t hold them in high regard. Of course, you’ve got to remember that China has viewed itself as the center of the world since Day One. They see all non-Han people as barbarians, as inferiors.
That was absolutely true when the British sent an ambassador, Macartney, to open relations at the very end of the 18th century. He was treated with borderline contempt—pretty much the way Europeans and Americans have treated primitive peoples since the days of Columbus.
It’s actually the normal human attitude when an advanced culture encounters a backward culture. The Chinese see their culture as superior to even that of the West and believe—probably correctly—that they’ll soon be economically and technologically superior as well.
International Man: If China comes to dominate Africa and its resources, what does that mean for its rivalry with the US?
Doug Casey: Well, the US government is basically bankrupt at this point. The only thing that the US exports in quantity is US dollars. And sometime soon, the Chinese, the Russians, the Malaysians, the Iranians, and the Indians, among others, won’t need or want US dollars. They don’t want to accept them now, because it’s an asset of their adversary or even their enemy. They’re unhappy about having to settle accounts in dollars that all have to clear through New York.
So, they’re going to come up with their own alternative. And I suspect they’re going to use gold. Why? Because they don’t trust each other’s paper currencies. And why should they?
How’s the United States going to react to that?
It’s going to be left out in the cold. No one needs or wants their dollars—they want and need real goods, not the paper obligations of a hostile, unpredictable, bankrupt government. Also, the US isn’t in a position to export people, except for some unwelcome soldiers. The Chinese are in an excellent position to export a couple hundred million spare people. The bottom line is that the Chinese are going to take over Africa financially, and they’re going to take it over demographically as well.
International Man: What kind of speculative opportunities do you think this trend will create?
Doug Casey: Well, I’ve often said that if I were 30 years old today and wanted to make my fortune, I would definitely go to Africa. The reason for that is that you don’t want to be on a level playing field. You want to be on a field tilted in your direction as much as possible.
If a young Westerner goes to Africa and travels around, he’ll find it quite easy to move with the top levels of society. Because he’s unusual. And people are interested in things that are unusual. The fact that you’re a Westerner means that you’ve probably associated with people who have much more money, much more sophistication, much more knowledge than any of the locals do. You have unique advantages in Africa. If a young Westerner stays at home, however, he has no marginal advantages.
It’s very hard to vault yourself to the top in a Western society, because there are tens of millions of people just like you with the same education, background, and abilities.
But in Africa, you’re automatically on the top of the heap. And you’re noticeable. So, it’s a great place to go for entrepreneurial reasons.
At the same time, I don’t think Africa is a place to invest unless you’ve got the PLA standing behind you. It’s a place for a hit-and-run type of entrepreneurialism. Or perhaps political entrepreneurialism.
As corrupt as Africa is, the way almost everybody makes money is by getting hooked up with the government. And that’s possible to do. You could go to any number of African countries, hang out there for a month, and be sitting down with the president.
That’s not going to happen if you try to do the same thing in North America or Europe or for that matter even South America or Asia.
International Man: If you were 30 years old and looking for opportunity in Africa, what countries in particular would you be most interested in?
Doug Casey: Well, I wouldn’t jump off the deep end at first. Don’t go to a place like Nigeria to start. Nor is South Africa ideal for this purpose. It’s too developed, and there are too many people of European descent—although that’s changing. White people are making what the Rhodesians called “the chicken run” and for the same reasons. There’s too much anti-white racism in South Africa, and besides, the economy is going into reverse.
I would go to a country like Namibia, which is large, empty, and pretty mellow. I would definitely look at Mozambique. Or Mauritania—a huge country, where nobody goes. São Tomé and Príncipe, an obscure island country off the west coast. If you’re adventurous, the Central African Republic, which is probably the most backward country in Africa.
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