Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Stanbic's Bid for Ghana's Only Agricultural Development Bank Says about South Africa's View of West Africans


Last week, Metro TV, in its Newsnight programme, reported --much to my chagrin--that the government had offloaded (finally) its shares in ADB in preparation for the takeover by the South African bank Standard Bank.

I've been seeing Standard Bank's ads in magazines like Business In Africa, Africa Today, and been forced to accept that it, too, like ECOBANK, wnts to be a Pan-African bank.

Predictably, I'm being biased towards Ecobank being a veritable regional bank--precissely for its history of ECOWAS' stake, and its reach in almost ECOWAS countries, including CEMAC countries. Honestly, Stanbic, a Pan-African bank? I don't think so! Where's the SADC support to underscore this? Where is the SADC region's understanding of the rest of Africa?

In my view, I see an interesting trend here--one of Stanbic, like South African big capital, choosing to lord it over Africa, and feeling, why not, West Africa's a good place. Once we get Ghana, we've got a springboard for the rest of West Africa.

Not so fast, Stanbic!

The South Africans appear not to understand not just West Africa, but its market. One thing that goes to compound this perception is an article in Friday's edition of the private Ghanaian paper The Observer, with the headline:

Stanbic Offers $80m for ADB



The sub-heading speaks volumes: Workers Charge and Say "Kai!" ADB's Western Union
Inflows for 2006 Alone Was $400m




This, in fact, was reduced from $120m.

The cheek of Stanbic! To think it could buy Ghana's only agricultural development bank for $80m, when Western Union's for ADB alone was clocking a good five times aaht amount speaks more about the South African chutzpah, or hubris, of feeling it can lord it over West Africa in general, and Ghana in particular.

Back to the news report from Metro news, I noticed that the following ight, the station reported that the government insists it had not sold its shares in ADB, and was actually looking at an unsolicited proposal from Stanbic made last year.

It was confirmed in the state-owned Daily Graphic on Thursday, as the picture above illustrates.

I certainly hope that Bank of Ghana, and Ghanaians open their eyes to the looming threat of big capital--be it outside Africa, or on the continent itself, represented by a wolf in sheep's clothing--South Africa, always ready to please the West and its elite, yet less amenable to the interests of Black Africa.

Does NEPAD ring a bell, anyone?
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