Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (McGhee) to the Secretary of State and to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Rusk)1

There is submitted for your information a summary report of an informal panel discussion on African affairs held in the Department on February 6, over which I presided.2

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I. Purpose and Scope of Discussion; Participation

The purpose of the discussion was to have an exchange of views on certain items on the agenda of the forthcoming Lourenco Marques Consular Conference (with special emphasis on ECA and Point IV technical assistance to Africa), and to provide the basis for a better understanding of present and possible future United States policies and objectives in Africa. Twelve specialists on Africa chosen from industry, commerce, educational institutions and foundations, missionary boards, and the United Nations attended the two three-hour sessions. (See Appendix A for list of participants.3)

II. U.S. Objectives in Africa

It was generally agreed that the real basic objective of our policy in Africa is to accelerate its development. This should be accomplished by the cooperation of the European colonial countries, the Africans themselves and the United States. With ECA and proposed Point IV, the United States is for the first time in a strong position to carry out its role in this objective. It was urged that there was a definite need for an affirmation or a re-affirmation at the Very highest level regarding United States policy not only on Africa, but on colonial policy everywhere if our aims and objectives were to be understood instead of being deliberately misrepresented throughout the world. It was suggested that if the bold new program for technical assistance proposed under Point IV were to be coupled with a bold re-affirmation of our policy on colonialism, it would do much to strengthen our position in the UN generally. Such a definition would be a much more powerful weapon in our cold war with Russia than any tactical or ad hoc approach.

III. Implementation of U.S. Policies in the Economic Assistance Field

Economic aid should be administered within the general framework of economic and political policy. While Point IV should be administered primarily for the African people themselves, we should work for a maximum possible understanding with our Western allies, Britain, France and Belgium. Serious consideration should be given to the holding of a conference at the highest level to reach agreement on the broad aims of colonial policy. We should work towards a reasonable acceleration of the political and economic development of of the African peoples. Additionally it was suggested that any United States program for technical assistance should be coordinated with [Page 1511] any UN plans. The Point IV program would need to be closely coordinated with that of ECA in the planning stage—to avoid duplication. In the actual administration they should be kept separate lest Point IV be characterized as just another plan for manacling the African peoples with the chains of Western imperialism. In this connection emphasis should be placed on the fact that ECA technical assistance is to assist the peoples of Africa as well as the metropolitan powers.

IV. Attraction of Private Investment

In order to attract private American capital and technical assistance to Africa it was emphasized that the improvement and extension of internal transportation systems (highways, railroads, waterways and airways); plans for conservation of water and possible hydroelectric schemes; and plans for hotels and rest houses should be given high priority in development schemes. It was felt that: (1) European technicians appear to be more willing to live under very primitive conditions than Americans; (2) Africans can be trained in industrial and mechanical techniques; (3) with careful planning no major dislocation of the local labor force need occur; (4) given time and patience that an efficient and profitable business can be established in central Africa.

V. Recruitment of Personnel; Establishment of an Institute on African Affairs

In discussing the problems of recruiting American technical personnel for work in Africa under ECA and Point IV programs, it was proposed that experience gained with the Institute of Latin American Affairs might be utilized in establishing an African Institute within the Department of State to serve as a device for carrying on service projects. The fact that the Latin American countries are sovereign states, whereas African countries are mostly dependencies, might indeed cause the metropoles to be suspicious of the purposes of such an Institute, but it was felt that such suspicions could be allayed by proper clearance with the metropoles prior to the setting up of such an Institute. It was further suggested that while such a mechanism might easily serve as a catalyst to arouse interest in African affairs, on a long-term basis a private Institute of African Studies was undoubtedly needed. The long-term interest in such a project and plans previously proposed by the Board of African Studies were discussed and questions of location, finances, necessary personnel, etc. were raised. It was generally felt that none of these difficulties were insurmountable and that further investigation should be made of the possibilities.

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VI. Further Settlement Possibilities of Europeans in Africa

The question of transplanting large numbers of displaced Europeans to Africa to assist in the technical and economic development was discussed but two objections were raised: (1) that general public opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, Africa is basically a poor continent and cannot support a large European population in addition to its native population and (2) that any intrusive group—be it European or Asiatic—means exploitation as has been shown in the cases of the Union of South Africa and British East Africa.4

  1. The source text was initialled by Under Secretary of State James E. Webb (apparently for the Secretary of State) and by Dean Rusk. Copies of this memorandum were also sent to Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Willard L. Thorp, and Paul H. Nitze, Director of the Policy Planning Staff.
  2. Regarding the meeting under reference here, see the Report Prepared in the Department of State, p. 1503.
  3. The Appendix is not printed; the participants listed therein are named in footnote 2, p. 1503. The Appendix listed 11, not 12, nongovernmental participants on the panel.
  4. In response to a Department of State expression of interest in British views on the question of Italian settlement in Africa, telegram 269, January 18, from London, not printed, reported that the British Foreign Office was well aware of the problem of surplus Italian population and was constantly exploring means of helping in the matter. Means of assistance were limited, however, by local conditions such as West African objections to white settlement. The Foreign Office felt that on the whole there was not much possibility of a substantial increase in the number of European settlers in British Africa under current conditions. (840.00R/1–1850)