The democratization of knowledge

Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has largely exhausted the energy, resources and patience of most states on the planet. Then, just when the acuity of the scourge seemed to be weakening, and the affected countries foreseeing a gradual return to normal life, the Russia/Ukraine war upsets these optimistic forecasts and plunges many nations back into uncertainty of the next day. But unlike Covid-19, the origin of which is not known for sure, the outbreak of war on Ukraine, which Russia sees as a mere “special military operation” to stabilize ethnicity Russian-speaking neighbor, is indeed claimed by Russia.

Now, behind the horrors and the indescribable human drama of this war (not considered here), which intensify day by day, there are, in essence, reasons and calculations of  political and geostrategic order, but which do not fall within  the purpose of this Blog.

On the other hand, the publicly available information data, which this armed conflict is bringing to light in the European agricultural and agri-food sectors and beyond, are of great interest for this article. We are therefore going to try to shed light on some facets of the upheaval underway within Europe, which are already affecting their trade in the agro-industrial, energy and other sectors, in order to better appreciate the considerable changes which undoubtedly prefigure the arrival of a new world order. The change in question, which in our view meets the goal of the NDM (New Development Model) whose implementation is progressing in Morocco (see here), is expected to bring more balance to the exchanges between the current principals, the EU in particular, and our various African States.

We can already deduce at this stage that the current planetary order, over which the EU countries continue to largely reign, based on the unbridled exploitation (spoliation) of  raw materials of poor countries, notably African — for us maintain in a situation of perennial vassalization vis-à-vis European lobbies — can already be considered obsolete.

Let us not forget that European countries which colonized us, plundered our resources and keep the economies of our territories under their tutelage to this day, have always proclaimed loud and clear, hand on heart, including before authorities of the UN, that they simply want to help our African countries and their actions are to enable progress and development in Africa. Obviously, we do not understand why, contrary to this thesis, Europeans have systematically refused to invest in the improvement of our public colleges and universities. They continue to prefer the training of our local elites in their own structures. Looking more closely, it must have been easier for them under these conditions to sort out, among the candidates on formation, between those who agree with the paradigm of “Independence in interdependence” (another form of subordination), who must then be helped by any means to allow them to have a successful integration into their country of origin (vassal) — to serve the interests of our principals — and those who are refractory to this diktat and must be kept in check.

We have robust information in our records showing the use of the latter practice.

On this level, we can also mention that  aid that EU states provide for the training of good part of the elite of our resigned Continent, to make them sort of “spokespersons” of EU cooperation with our countries for  benefit of European lobbies, is definitely a colonial vision. This approach, which EU countries are trying to maintain at all costs, has been closely linked to the availability and conditions of circulation of information (or knowledge), particularly of a scientific and technical type.

In this context, and until recently, knowledge was obtained mainly through specialized state bodies: Colleges, Universities, Libraries and others. However, the Europeans, who have actively worked on the decay of our societies for centuries, know very well that services of our above-mentioned structures have rarely been efficient, mainly because of lack of means. Therefore, for members of  EU, the upholding of our institutions in question as they were was in itself a guarantee of the continuity of our vassalization vis-à-vis our former colonizers. This obviously with the additional precaution of keeping under control the “refractory elites” mentioned above for not disturbing this “status quo” by favoring the transmission of knowledge once they return to their country. In other words, the leaders of European countries, “modern equivalents” of Romans of ancient times, seem to have defined once and for all the place of the countries of our Continent and those of the countries of EU. We Africans must devote ourselves to informal, sloppy and underpaid labor for local consumption and they, the “knowledge-rich” can concentrate on supposedly structured, quality and well-paid work, eligible for export. It follows that EU countries feel as vitall need for them to continue having exclusive know-how, for example on the processing of raw materials to keep them longer and make the most of them commercially, and that we, the incompetents, should continue to content ourselves with selling them these resources for peanuts.

Then, of course, we are obliged to buy back our own Raw Materials from them in the form of “Finished Products” paid in Euro and at speculative prices.

That said, the world is changing and the questioning of the “status quo”, so feared by the former colonizers, has finally come from where we did not suspect it. It is the development of the Internet where the United States of America has invested the most heavily. This global computer network has largely contributed to democratizing knowledge and know-how. In this respect — considering that the performance of electronic platforms for importing agri-food products into US market has a good head start on European portals supposed to play the same role — it is educationally easier to export African food products on the US market than on the EU’s one. We understand by this that a producer and/or manufacturer and/or supplier and/or distributor, who has made a small effort in English, who works according to the rules, who is able to use some of the tools provided by Internet, can very well manage the registration operations of its products and obtain without delay on the FDA portal the corresponding code numbers for export. Then, the interested party is entitled to canvass potential buyers of his choice to sell and dispose of the products in question internationally on the US and other markets of FDA obedience which are the most numerous in the world. This professional can, at the same time, inquire about the validity of manufacturing protocols  of interest to him and retain the Process that best suits his product in accordance with the law.

All this can be done through Internet for free and without intermediaries

On the contrary, exporting to EU market is far from offering, in our opinion, so much useful and didactic information as well as such quick and free access conditions. In addition, going through the human factor (intermediary) remains very widespread for access to European market. This handicap generates additional costs for the producer/manufacturer, increases its cost price and reduces its competitiveness.

In addition, the forced passage through intermediaries can also constitute an open door to all kinds of fraud or financial and other abuses. In this respect, this example taken from our archives: A Moroccan exporter, with whom we had previously performed a service, told us (and showed samples of the product in question) that at the express request of a buyer domiciled in Paris, he was led to prepare and sell him argan oil under special conditions. The product exported in half-liter bottles (common packaging for food) was supposed to go for human consumption. However, the intermediary repackages it on the spot in smaller formats for much more profitable sale  as a cosmetic product*. The operation is obviously fraudulent but it is interesting to note  the initiation of the fraud comes from the very people who reproach us  our lack of adherence to the law! All this under the nose and beard of their fraud prevention services.

*: Vitamin “E”, whose virtues are sought in the cosmetic version of argan oil, is in fact destroyed following the heat treatment required by regulation for the food version of the oil.

In reality, the vision that Europeans continue to have of us Africans derives from the fact these people persist, contrary to all common sense, in seeing us through the prism of the colonizer and, for them, we must remain eternally a milking cow. With this in mind, maintaining the aforementioned status quo is meant to reassure these people that they still have the upper hand over our resources and economic activities.

Curiously, this is also where, in our opinion, lies the miscalculation of Europeans. The bad idea will have been to believe that they can indefinitely prevent, in particular, the entire African continent from accessing knowledge we need to make ourselves proper place among nations. In this regard, several West African countries have been striving for decades to create dairy industry in this part of our region, but without success. The ex-colonizers not only kept the possibility, by means of the management system of the CFA Franc they put in place, of blocking bank credits for projects of this type which they do not want; But they persist to this day in flooding the markets of this area with commercially dumped milk powders to bury any prospect of making the emergence of such a local industry profitable.

Today we know, according to  information revealed during this Russia/Ukraine conflict, that the overabundance of EU milk powder was possible because, in large part, the Europeans were stocking up on Ukrainian cereals (corn, barley and others) for their dairy cows at ridiculous prices, like the ones prices they pay for our African raw materials. We also know that since the outbreak of the aforementioned war, the possibility of buying Ukrainian grain at a low price imposed by EU structures has definitely ended. Worse still for Europeans, it is highly unlikely that the EU will be able to find these types of opportunities anywhere in the world in the future.

In short, West Africa will finally be able to consider building its dairy production units and other industrial projects away from EU interference. Indeed, our neighbors to the north will probably be very busy in the next few years thinking about how to survive under the coming rules that the new world order is sure to impose on everyone.

Ultimately, the Europeans are not really modern equivalents of the Roman Empire. The latter lasted eight hundred years while the “EU Imperial Ambition” will have been stopped after less than four centuries.

By way of conclusion, the EU countries must henceforth, in our opinion, prepare themselves seriously — as China made them understand before and Russia currently — to accepting, in the new world order being put in place, the position that their own resources will allow them to occupy. And for us Africans, the time has come to understand that our entrepreneurial ambition will have a better chance of succeeding by drawing our (reasonably verified) information from the Internet network, including the Codex-Alimentarius, the FAO and others, than by relying on Europe’s deficient assistance.