“Foreign-Funded African NGOs Threaten Continent’s Development and Sovereignty” by David Hundeyin


Scrolling through Twitter, I came across a report by Power Shift Africa, a climate-focused NGO based in Nairobi, Kenya. Their publication, “Still Banking on Fossil Fuels,” criticizes the African Development Bank for funding fossil fuel projects in Africa. The gist is clear: if the energy isn’t renewable, the bank shouldn’t support it because fossil fuels are deemed harmful.

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The report’s executive summary presents two potential futures for Africa: one that follows the fossil fuel development path taken by the Global North, leading to wealth and progress, or a second, uncharted path of energy sovereignty and environmental protection without fossil fuels. But this so-called “uncharted path” is, as admitted, nonexistent in practical terms.

Now, let’s reflect on this for a moment. The Global North’s wealth and development were built on fossil fuels. Yet, the report suggests Africa should take an entirely different, undefined route. This is an unrealistic expectation, setting Africa up for failure.

The real issue I want to highlight is the destructive role that foreign-funded NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) play in Africa. These entities, ostensibly working for Africa’s betterment, are often funded by foreign interests and may not always align with Africa’s needs and priorities.

Power Shift Africa, for instance, receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This raises the question: why is a Western-funded NGO campaigning against Africa using its own fossil fuel resources to generate energy? The national wealth of a country is directly linked to its energy production. More energy means more economic growth. So, by opposing fossil fuel projects, these NGOs are essentially campaigning for Africa to remain impoverished.

Another troubling scenario is the influence of foreign-funded CSOs on political dynamics. For instance, during the lead-up to Nigeria’s 2023 election, a civil society leader, funded by American interests, was involved in subtly shifting the narrative against a popular candidate, Peter Obi. This manipulation was aimed at maintaining a political status quo that benefits foreign interests.

The entanglement of foreign funding in Africa’s development and political scenarios poses an existential threat. These NGOs, while presented as allies, often work against Africa’s interests, promoting agendas that align with their donors rather than the needs of African countries. This ultimately perpetuates poverty and stifles true progress.

In essence, the narrative of these CSOs and their foreign benefactors is clear: keep Africa exactly where it is. Africa has abundant, cheap fossil fuels that could drive its economic growth. Yet, NGOs like Power Shift Africa argue against exploiting these resources, pushing instead for an unproven and impractical renewable energy future.

This reality is troubling. It’s crucial to question the motives behind these foreign-funded campaigns and recognize the broader implications for Africa’s sovereignty and development. Africa deserves the opportunity to follow a path of progress, just as the Global North did, without being held back by external agendas disguised as altruistic efforts.

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