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Freeze on Libya funds hurts Africa

Published Apr 27, 2011 6:21 PM

From an article in Il Manifesto (Italy) by Manlio Dinucci, April 22.

Along with the oil and gas beckoning the imperialists in Libya are that country’s sovereign wealth funds — capital invested abroad. The Libyan Investment Authority, the Central Bank and other bodies manage more than $150 billion on five continents.

Once the U.S. and the E.U. lifted the embargo in 2004 and the big oil companies returned, Libya maintained a yearly trade surplus of about $30 billion, used largely for foreign investments. Before launching a military attack on Libya, the U.S. froze the $32 billion the LIA had deposited in U.S. banks and the E.U. froze around $60 billion.

The assault on these Libyan funds can hurt all Africa, where the Libyan Arab African Investment Co. had invested in over 25 countries, 22 of them sub-Saharan. Libyan investment in an African communications satellite was allowing African countries to begin to become independent from the U.S. and European satellite networks, with an annual savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Were Libya able to continue increasing investments in three financial institutions launched by the African Union — the African Investment Bank, based in Tripoli; the African Monetary Fund, based in Yaoundé, Cameroon; the African Central Bank, based in Abuja, Nigeria — this would enable African countries to escape the control of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and would mark the end of the CFA franc, the currency that 14 former French colonies are forced to use. Freezing Libyan funds deals a strong blow to the entire project