The Leeds University Centre for African Studies is hosting an online research seminar about the theme of ‘Finance and Neocolonialism in Africa’, on Thursday 25 November, 4:00-5:30pm (GMT). Our speakers are:
- Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo (University of Bayreuth): “Financialization, Afro-Euphoria, and the Struggle for Economic Sovereignty in Africa”.
- Scott Timcke (University of Leeds): “How to Ensure FinTech Does not Become a Neo-Colonial Technology”.
The seminar will be chaired by Jorg Wiegratz (Leeds) and will take place on MS Teams. Please click here to join the meeting.
Financialization, Afro-Euphoria, and the Struggle for Economic Sovereignty in Africa
Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo (University of Bayreuth)
Conversations on Financialization, the contemporary phase of capitalism that involves the extraction of profits from financial activities rather than commodity production, are not new. Initially a concern in advanced capitalist economies, the implications of this financialized capitalism for economies in the global south is receiving significant attention. Particularly for African economies who occupy a subordinate position in the global financial order, it means contracting policy spaces, debt crises, diversification of dependency, and a lifeblood for neocolonial exploitation. The role of China, considered a frenemy, also deserves critical inquiry. So too is that of domestic actors, some of whom insist that they be called Africapitalists. There is even now a financialization of religion with the emergence of the “Jesus Industry.” Concomitantly, the intrusion, perhaps invasion of everyday life by fintechs with the false promise of ‘financial inclusion,’ serves as justification for a euphoric view of African economies. What does these mean for the struggle towards economic sovereignty in Africa?
Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo is a doctoral researcher at the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, University of Bayreuth, Germany. As a member of the Junior Research Group on Monetary and Economic Sovereignty in West Africa Compared, he focuses on the political economy of money and finance in post-colonial Ghana. His research employs incorporated comparison and stratification economics to understand how global financial structures and domestic socio-political forces create debt, constrain governmental policy space, and exacerbate socio-economic stratifications. Notable among his publications is the paper published at ROAPE: ‘Afro-euphoria: is Ghana’s economy an exception to the growth paradox?’
How to Ensure FinTech Does not Become a Neo-Colonial Technology
In this presentation I survey and critique the extensive reach of computational techniques into everyday life, techniques that if left unattended can reinforce historical tendencies found in capitalist modernity. The primary case-study is how Northern Platforms aided by local intermediaries perpetuate neocolonial tendencies in the South. Engaging with African neo-Marxian theorizing, I discuss the character of accumulation and class formation via FinTech platform enabled rent-seeking in Sub-Saharan Africa as these platforms experiment to indebt their users. The result is that this kind of technological apparatus enables neocolonialism through a mixture of market and non-market coercion to structure the relationship between the Global North and South. Without reform, FinTech is poised to be another mechanism by which the interests of the transnational capitalist ruling class exacerbates the global racial wealth gap.
Dr Scott Timcke is a comparative historical sociologist interested in the study of race, class, inequality, and social change. Currently he is a fellow at the Leeds University Centre for African Studies. He is the author of two monographs: Capital, State, Empire: The New American Way of Digital Warfare (University of Westminster Press, 2017) and Algorithms and The End of Politics: The Shaping of Technology in 21st Century American Life (Bristol University Press, 2021).