Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Past of the Central African Republic

Having finished watching Al Jazeera's 3-part documentary on Françafrique, I happened to reread this Brookings Institution blog post, "What is the Future of the Central African Republic?" from April, which reviewed some of that troubled country's post-independence, neo-colonialist experience:

...the legacy of French colonial rule left the C.A.R. with no visionary leadership and an ill-developed institutional and physical infrastructure. The C.A.R. is a very small country– its population is comparable to the state of Alabama. Yet its huge surface area – comparable to that of the state of Texas – is richly endowed in natural resources, notably timber and diamonds, which explains the continued interest of its former colonial master and other foreign nations in the country. Since the colonial period when the C.A.R was called Oubangui-Chari, France’s colonialism (and subsequent neocolonialism) was aimed at extracting the C.A.R.’s resources at the expense of developing the country’s human resources, institutional and physical infrastructure... 
For instance, right up to 1971 – almost a decade after independence from France – the C.A.R.’s gross secondary enrollment rate was barely 4 percent; less than 2 percent of the country’s total road network had been paved; and only about one physician per 50,000 people was available

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