Africa - a continent on the move

Africa is a continent on the move and its’ path fraught with dangers and opportunists at every corner of the globe

Africa is a continent on the move and its’ path fraught with dangers. Africa is emerging as a powerful region with dynamic people, new technologies, new markets and of course, new opportunities.

There are three recent stories with a common theme: a continual threat from unscrupulous western firms acting in bad faith.

There is exceptional opportunity for countries across Africa to nurture but with this opportunity comes an unexceptional threat. A threat from unscrupulous western firms with relationships with unscrupulous politicians and people with power.

Icelandic fishing conglomerate Samherji

This is an age old story about the plunder of the poorest by the globally powerful. And they stop at nothing.  Enter the South African mafia, corrupt politicians a behemoth foreign fisheries corporation and the 'sharks' among Namibia's fish! Namibia's recent history is one of colonisation, oppression and Apartheid where 20% of Namibians still suffer in poverty.

But for foreign powers like the Icelandic fishing behemoth Samherji, corruption is Namibia's low hanging fruit. It all goes with the meal right? "All too often, we tend to focus much more on the beneficiary of corruption and not the supplier of corruption[1]." Icelandic fishing conglomerate Samherji, used every dirty trick the underworld had to offer to plunder Namibia's fish resources.

"One of the few European countries with no history of colonialism or warmongering, Iceland has long prided itself on its purported "innocence[2]"." "Halldora Mogensen, an Icelandic MP with the Pirate Party, put it bluntly: "The myth of Iceland's innocence is dead.[3]""

Dr Ruja Ignatova OneCoin

Another hot topic, and a scam that continues to hit the poorest and least deserving, is the OneCoin, OneLife scam! (allegedly... there I said it).

There are two perps in this line up. The first is the company itself with its dynamic & charismatic leader Dr Ruja Ignatova who has persuaded millions to join her financial revolution. Then there are the multi-level marketers who are getting rich off the back of the poor selling Dr Ruja Ignatova's false dream.

But it is OneCoin’s multi-level marketing that drives the corruption into the smallest of towns and farming communities, infecting communities and congregations across the continent. Pastors, community leaders and foreign marketers are targeting African communities and separating them from their incredibly hard earned money.

But maybe the most heart-breaking deception is the collaboration of the worlds’ most powerful and respected firms run and owned by the already extremely wealthy.

Isabel dos Santos

Dos Santos was Africa’s richest woman, ex-President DOS Santos daughter who ‘benefited’ from access to the minerals rich nations treasury. “Isabel dos Santos’s secret to becoming a billionaire in Angola, one of the world’s poorest countries, was simple. She got her dad, José Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s president, to give her money from the nation’s treasury.

O.K., it wasn’t quite that simple. A maze of shell companies, overseas tax havens and complex management and investment schemes funnelled millions to and fro before the money ended up in her hands[4]”


“Ms. dos Santos had the assistance of Western firms, including the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company and the accountants at PwC, who helped manage some of the 400 companies and subsidiaries in 41 countries controlled by Ms. dos Santos and her husband. In some cases, the couple’s advisers oversaw financial transfers that the current Angolan government describes as acts of money laundering[5].”


Chidinma Irene Nwoye has been writing extensively about Ms. dos Santos; outlining the relationship between her father, Angola's resources and her wealth.

Numerous reports have shown how she ended up with stakes in lucrative Angolan companies while her father was president. A Forbes report and an ICIJ investigation revealed Ms dos Santos as one of the shareholders of Ascorp, the Angolan diamond monopoly controlled by Russian-Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.

“The two roots of [Isabel’s] fortune are diamonds and Unitel and they were given to her by her father, [6]” says legal analyst and Angola Research Network founder, Rui Verde.

Ms. dos Santos is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and her partners tasked with assisting Ms. dos Santos with her businesses had the legal obligation within most jurisdictions, and at minimum the ethical obligation, to understand Ms. dos Santos’ source of funds.

It takes real coordination with strong relationships & networks to pull these feats off!  There are two ways to be a part of the network.

Willingly or unwittingly.

It is important to know who you are doing business with.

Investigations are unfolding and charges have only just been laid but by the looks of it Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company and Price Waterhouse Coopers were willing participants.

These are all recent and unfolding events. Time will tell if the walls will close in on those that have taken advantage of a continents rising opportunity or if they will walk away unharmed leaving a trail of destruction and despair.

But one thing is sure. Human kind has the ability to rationalise our bad behaviours and inflict such great harm. If your values project the idea of ‘do no harm’ the a culture of compliance will help build an acceptable framework for us to operate in without causing undue harm. Stepping outside this framework as Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company and Price Waterhouse Coopers allegedly did is a whole different ballgame.

[1](Aljazeera.com, 2020)

[2](Aljazeera.com, 2020)

[3](Aljazeera.com, 2020)

[4](Nytimes.com, 2020)

[5](Nytimes.com, 2020)

[6](QuartzAfrica, Nwoye, 2020)

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

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