Payer Prepared in the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs 2


Regional Policy Statement on Africa South of the Sahara

1. estimate of the situation


A. Today “Black” Africa is oriented toward the non-Communist world. Communism has made no real progress in the area, but continuation of this state of affairs cannot be taken for granted. French West Africa is the weakest spot. Conditions exist throughout “Black” Africa which would play into the hands of Communist agitators. The low standards of living of the natives, the attitude of white supremacy struck by some colonial officials and white settlers, and the disintegration of tribal authority are examples of these vulnerable areas. Nationalist Government policies have created serious tensions between natives, Asiatics, and whites in the Union of South Africa. These tensions could lead to passive resistance, violence or Communism and spread to other parts of the African continent.

B. The rise of nationalism, particularly in British West Africa, has made collaboration between metropolitan governments and their African colonies more difficult by undermining the confidence of the former in the security of their position. The metropolitan powers are making efforts to cope with this desire for autonomy. The United Kingdom is committed to a colonial policy designed to grant eventual self-government to its colonies, preferably within the British Commonwealth. France follows a policy of assimilation as Frenchmen and [Page 1200] strives for development within the French Union. Belgium proceeds systematically with measures which eventually will raise the native standard of living to a level which in turn will generate a desire for successful self-government. Portugal maintains strict control from Lisbon over Mozambique and Angola, and apparently entertains no thought of anything but colonial status for these territories in the foreseeable future. Spain’s colonies south of the Sahara are unimportant and this fact is reflected in a laissez-faire policy which concerns itself little with native welfare.

C. The Colonial powers are sensitive to any interest which the United States shows in their African territories. This sensitiveness stems from pronouncements made by American officials, especially, in recent times, and by our representatives in the United Nations, to the effect that we support the goal of self-determination and self-rule of all people. The metropolitan powers need reassurance from the United States that we are not purposefully working to bring about a premature according of political independence to the peoples of Africa. The position taken by the United States in recent UN debates on their African trusteeships has exacerbated the feelings of the colonial powers to the extent that this has become a source of irritation in their relations with us.

D. “Black” Africa is an important source of raw materials, particularly in time of war or even now when other sources in the Far East are diminishing. Manganese, cobalt, columbite, industrial diamonds, chrome ore, uranium, rubber, palm oil, asbestos, graphite, vanadium, mica, copper, tin, and many other materials of considerable importance to the United States are produced there.

E. For the masses in “Black” Africa agriculture consists of a low type of subsistence farming which precludes a decent standard of living and ruins the land. Improved methods are needed on this lowest level to increase production per man and to conserve the soil. The native needs more technical assistance from governmental and private sources before his standard of living can be improved through money crops. Notwithstanding the plight of the native, African farm products, such as sisal, wool, coffee, cocoa, palm oil and palm kernels, already play an important part in our everyday life. Those products are important not only to the United States, but also to the economy of Western Europe.

F. In many parts of the area inadequate transportation facilities and lack of skilled labor are factors which retard economic development.

G. American and other foreign capital is also required to develop Africa. While the climate for the investment of American capital is favorable in some areas there are other parts of Africa where investors find barriers raised, such as (1) rigid exchange controls which preclude [Page 1201] repatriation of dividends or of the original investment; (2) suspicion of American motives; and (3) the feeling that American businessmen seek to supplant European business interests. A shortage of risk capital in the United States has also been a contributing factor in hampering further investment in Africa. At present total U.S. investments in Africa South of the Sahara are estimated to be at least $250,000,000, most of which is invested in South Africa and Liberia.

H. As has already been indicated, “Black” Africa is important for the supplies of strategic materials that may have to be obtained there in the event of war or where other sources of supply are denied to us. These strategic materials must not only be made available to the United States but must be denied the enemy. Thus the strategic value of Africa is increasing. In the event of war, an air route across Central Africa to the Middle and Far East would become very important as an alternate for the North African route. In addition our Navy would no doubt require bases and/or ship repair and supply facilities at such ports as Dakar, Monrovia, Freetown, Cape Town, Durban and Kilindini, most of which were of considerable strategic importance during the last war.

I. The gradual weakening of the economic ties of the European powers with their Far Eastern possessions and the need for rehabilitating their domestic economy has led these nations to look to the development of Africa as a means of strengthening their over-all economic and strategic position in the world. The United States supports this objective through ECA assistance and Point Four aid. However, in seeking to attain this objective there is a growing tendency for some European colonial powers to endeavor to monopolize colonial trade to the detriment of U.S. commercial interests.

U.S. Attitudes Affecting Implementation of Our Objectives

The American people interested in the future of Africa South of the Sahara have certain basic attitudes which influence United States policy:

A realization of the contributions made by the administering powers in the development of Africa.
A humanitarian interest on the part of religious and philanthropic groups in assisting in the religious and social advancement of the African people.
Faith in the concept that the dependent peoples of the world can be assisted in progress towards ultimate self-government or independence by setting an example of the practical application of technology and American ideals of democracy.
Belief that Africa has considerable resources, both existing and potential, which will be important to us in any future world conflict.
A realization of the strategic importance of Africa in any future war, and consequently of the necessity for maintaining the friendship of the government and the peoples of Africa.
Interest on the part of U.S. commercial enterprises in assisting in the development of Africa and in maintaining an “open door” for American trade and investment in the area.
Sympathy on the part of the American Negroes for the aspirations of the native peoples of Africa.
A strong desire to assume as few additional world responsibilities as possible.

2. area objectives in terms of american interests

It is in the national interest of the United States to achieve the following objectives in Africa:

Social, political, and economic advancement of the people of Africa as rapidly as practicable to convince them that their individual and national aspirations can best be achieved through continued association with the free nations of the world.
Political and economic stability sufficient to resist domination by unfriendly movements or powers through subversion or aggression.
Development of mutual understanding and cooperation by the United States and the colonial powers on questions relating to colonial policy.
Maintenance of our strategic interests, including access to strategic raw materials.
Advancement of U.S. business interests, including the securing of nondiscriminatory treatment for U.S. nationals.

3. u.s. policies

In the light of the foregoing objectives, U.S. policy towards Africa South of the Sahara should be:

To cooperate with the responsible governments in the political, economic and social advancement of the people of Africa at the maximum practicable rate.
To encourage, within the political context existing at the time, maximum tolerance and respect for the human rights and dignity of the African and Asiatic peoples in areas of white domination, and of white people in areas of black domination to the end that a harmonious pattern of coexistence between the races can be developed.
To promote understanding on the part of the non-colonial powers of U.S. objectives and policies in the colonial field in Africa, as well as an understanding of the problems, responsibilities, and achievements of the colonial powers in Africa.
To take all possible steps, in cooperation with the governing powers, to prevent militant Communism from gaining ascendance or control in any part of Africa.
To lend our support, whenever appropriate, to the activities of the United Nations and its specialized agencies in Africa.
To maintain and seek adherence to our rights under the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye and the Trusteeship Agreements.
To seek the removal of import, exchange, and other controls not specifically approved by the United States, which act in restraint of normal trade; and to secure nondiscriminatory treatment for U.S. business interests in Africa.

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4. general lines of action

A. Political

(1) The conversations held in Washington in July 1950 with representatives of the United Kingdom, France and Belgium3 demonstrated the benefits to be derived from an informal exchange of views on dependent area problems at the working level. The American Embassies at London, Paris and Brussels should indicate to the respective Governments that we regard favorably the calling of similar informal meetings in the future whenever there is a need to discuss dependent area problems of common interest.

(2) Procedures should be established with the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium for consultation between the delegations of the respective Governments before each session of the Trusteeship Council, the Special Committee, and the General Assembly.

(3) Informal efforts should be made to induce the anti-colonial powers outside the Soviet bloc to adopt a more temperate attitude in discussing dependent area problems, since continued misinformed criticism endangers the orderly development of these dependent areas.

(4) As conditions warrant discussions should be held with the appropriate colonial authorities to ensure that security measures in the dependent area are adequate to prevent interruptions in the procurement by the United States and its allies of supplies of strategic materials in time of war or other emergency. The Consulates in these areas should be instructed to follow closely the situation and to keep the Department promptly and fully informed of conditions which may directly or indirectly affect the production and shipment of strategic materials from the dependent areas.

(5) Make clear to officials of the Metropolitan Governments that as a corollary to our efforts in strengthening the countries of Western Europe we wish to cooperate with them in the orderly and progressive development of their African dependent territories and in maintaining the present political stability in those areas.

Consular officers stationed in the dependent areas should also be instructed to take similar action with respect to the local colonial officials.

(6) Make every effort to dispel whatever suspicion the Metropolitan Governments might have that our actions are designed to bring about indiscriminate self-government in the African dependent areas.

(7) Encourage the Metropolitan Governments to collaborate with each other in solving problems of mutual concern in Africa.

(8) Continue to encourage and support the administering authorities in their efforts to curb Communist and subversive activities.

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(9) Endeavor to bring about in the Department and other agencies of the Government a greater realization of the strategic and economic importance of the dependent areas of Africa to the United States.

B. Economic

(1) Instruct our offices in the area to be on the alert for violations of our treaty rights (St. Germain-en Laye and the Trusteeship Agreements) and to make every effort locally to remove or minimize such violations. Unsuccessful efforts should be fully reported to the Department with a view to determining whether representations should be made to the appropriate metropolitan government.

(2) Continue to seek the removal or liberalization of such policies and practices of the colonial governments which discriminate against American trade and investment, and to make representations in instances where they tend to seriously hamper our trade and investment in the African dependent areas.

(3) Inform the appropriate authorities in both the Metropolitan countries and in the D.O.T.’s that restrictive economic and financial policies may give rise to unfavorable public reaction in the U.S., and that a more liberal policy would seem advisable if U.S. financial aid is to be continued.

(4) A realistic appraisal should be made by the Department of Commerce of the possibilities for and obstacles to American investment in the dependent African territories.

(5) Urge the colonial powers to liberalize their investment and exchange control policies in the African territories with a view to encouraging the flow of American investment capital to these areas to aid in their development.

(6) The Department of Commerce should continue its efforts to expand the U.S. market for commodities in which the African dependent areas are actual or potential producers.

(7) Continue to take all necessary steps, with the assistance of the ECA, to assure the continuance of the flow of strategic materials from the dependent areas to the U.S.

(8) Cooperate with the ECA, within the limits of the Point IV–ECA Joint Agreement of September 20, 1950 concerning bilateral technical assistance during fiscal 1951, in developing technical assistance programs for the dependent areas so as to avoid overlapping or duplication of effort, and so as to coordinate such programs with the development plans of the areas in order that they may contribute to the attainment of the broad economic and social objectives of the Metropolitan Governments.

(9) To do everything possible to insure the cordial reception of Point IV assistance in Africa South of the Sahara.

(10) The Department should explore the possibility of having private American philanthropic institutions (e.g., the Rockefeller, Carnegie [Page 1205] and Ford Foundations) assume responsibility for supplying technical assistance to supplement U.S. Government development projects in Africa under the Point IV and ECA programs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

D. Military


E. Informational and Cultural

(1) Our information program should endeavor to reach the following groups (listed according to priority):

The local administering authorities.
The educated African elite.
The illiterate and semi-literate Africans.

(2) Endeavor to create in the minds of the officials and literate Africans a better understanding of American culture, techniques, viewpoints and policies. We should also provide both the administrative officials and the Africans with access to informational, educational, and technological facilities which can assist in the task of developing African countries.

(3) Explain more fully our policies with regard to ECA and Point IV as they affect the development of dependent areas, as well as the relations of United States technical assistance to UN programs and objectives in non-self-governing areas.

(4) Allay any suspicions the local authorities may have concerning the informational programs and convince them that our concern for the orderly social, political and economic progress of the peoples of Africa is consistent with our desire for the increased strength and stability of the metropolitan governments, and that any United States Government information program will be carried out only with the prior consultation of the responsible authorities.

(5) Expose, wherever possible, the methods, practices and deceptive propaganda of Communism and describe both clearly and simply the truth about the Soviet-dominated areas of the world, and convince non-Communist fence-sitting elements that they should belong to and actively participate in the true democratic world community.

(6) Correct misconceptions and misrepresentations regarding the United States, planted by Communists in their cold war of vilification of the United States and its so-called “imperialistic motives” regarding Africa.

(7) Work in close cooperation with the local information services. We must, however, maintain our identity and freedom of action.

(8) Explain the nature of United States economic and strategic interests, activities and policies in Africa and indicate ways and [Page 1206] means by which these activities can operate to the mutual advantage of the United States, the various Metropolitan Governments, and the people of these African areas.

(9) Whenever possible we should develop an educational and informational exchange program with Africa—by arranging for visits to the United States of officials, educators, businessmen, and technicians and by assisting American educators, technicians and specialists to go to Africa.

(10) The information program should continue to utilize all the usual informational and cultural media, such as radio, press features, books, magazines, exchange of students and leaders, films and filmstrips, the emphasis varying in each area depending on the political climate. In general, however, films and radio are the best suited for reaching the mass of illiterate Africans while published material is most successful in influencing the two primary groups.

(11) An effort should be made to institute an exchange of students program in the French, Belgian and Portuguese areas and to expand this program in British areas.

F. Administrative

(1) A more careful selection of consular officers to serve in Africa should be exercised than in the past.

(2) Whenever possible a Principal Officer assigned to one of the dependent areas should spend a short period of time at the capital of the Metropolitan country, before proceeding to his post, to enable him to become acquainted with officials in the Colonial Office and with officers in our Embassy who are working on colonial problems.

(3) A Principal Officer assigned to the French and Belgian areas should have a fluent knowledge of French.

(4) Whenever practicable, a junior officer, after having served a tour of duty in a dependent area, should be assigned to the American Embassy located in the capital of the Metropolitan Government administering that dependent area. In similar manner, a junior officer having served in the Embassy at the capital of the Metropolitan Government should be assigned to a consular establishment in one of the dependent areas of that country.

(5) Officers stationed in dependent areas in Africa should be encouraged to travel as much as possible within the territory under their jurisdiction.

(6) Consular staffs in the dependent areas in Africa should be augmented in order to meet the increasing demands for information on political, economic and social developments by the Department and other Government agencies and by the US representatives in UN bodies considering problems relating to the dependent areas.

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5. country lines of action—liberia 4

A. Political

(1) Continue to render advice to the Liberian Government, upon request and voluntarily when deemed necessary, to assist it in building a sound democratic government.

(2) Continue to offer guidance to the Liberian Government in its political relations with other states. In this connection, we should continue to make known to other powers, when necessary, our intention to intercede in Liberia’s behalf to protect her independence.

(3) Endeavor to bring about in the Department and other agencies of the Government a greater realization of Liberia’s political, economic and strategic importance to the United States.

B. Economic

(1) Continue to offer our help to further Liberia’s economic development in a balanced and orderly manner.

(2) Continue to work for the expansion of the activities of our Economic Mission in order that it can achieve the maximum results in the development of Liberia’s natural resources.

(3) While we favor increased private investment and commercial activity in Liberia by Americans, we should strongly impress upon those connected with new ventures the desirability of concentrating on a relatively small number of projects which directly relate to the economic development of Liberia, and are within their capacity to finance and to carry forward to a successful conclusion.

(4) Assist the Liberian Government, in whatever way possible, to build and maintain a sound fiscal structure. The assignment of American financial experts to counsel the Liberians from time to time should be regularly pursued. The training of Liberian fiscal officials in our financial institutions, such as the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve System, should also be encouraged.

(5) Further the development of an effective national health service in Liberia by expanding our Public Health Mission to Liberia, and by making greater efforts to bring Liberian students to the United States for technical training in the field of Public Health.

(6) Assist the Liberian Government in its efforts to improve the present poor state of education throughout Liberia. Increased numbers of American teachers at all levels of instruction should, if possible, be made available to Liberia.

(7) Encourage and assist where possible additional numbers of Liberian students to come to the United States for training.

(8) Emphasize to private American business operating in Liberia the importance of providing larger and better educational facilities [Page 1208] for the children of their employees. Strong emphasis should be placed on the need for vocational schools at the sites of industrial operations.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

D. Military

(1) Assist the Liberian Government in its efforts to correct the shocking condition of its present military force. Our interests in Roberts Field, the newly-constructed Monrovia Port, Liberia’s raw rubber and high-grade iron ore are ample justifications for assisting Liberia to build an efficient military force for internal security.

(2) In addition to providing Liberia with a small military training mission we should endeavor to secure for Liberia small quantities of military equipment on a grant basis; continue to maintain Roberts Field, presently financed by the Department of the Air Force; prevent any type of activity or construction within the Port of Monrovia which would hinder in any way the use of the Port for Naval purposes; and continue to work with Pan American Airways and the Department of the Air Force to reconstruct (macadamize) the road connecting Roberts Field with the Port of Monrovia.

E. Informational and Cultural

(1) Explain fully and clearly to the Liberians the nature of American cultural activities, and devise ways and means by which these activities can operate within the framework of Liberia’s independence to the mutual advantage of the Liberians and us.

(2) Encourage and assist American private interests engaged in educational and scientific activities in coordinating and strengthening their programs for development of progressive leadership in Liberia.

(3) Assist the Liberian Government in the screening and selection of Liberians for study and training in the United States.

(4) Render assistance in selecting responsible and competent American professional personnel for general educational work in Liberia.

(5) Investigate the feasibility of establishing a comparatively strong radio station in Monrovia, for the purpose of expanding our broadcasting activities in West, Central and East Africa.

F. Administrative

(1) Continue the new policy of making our staff in Monrovia truly representative of the American people, i.e., both Colored and White personnel.

5. country lines of action—british west, central and east africa

A. Political

B. Economic

(1) Urge Southern Rhodesia to consider the early construction of a railroad to Lourenco Marques thus providing an alternate route to [Page 1209] the sea for the shipment of strategic minerals from Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia.

C. Intelligence

D. Military

(1) In consultation with the Department of Defense give consideration to the assignment of a Military Liaison Officer for Intelligence to Accra, Gold Coast.

E. Informational and Cultural

F. Administrative

(1) Consideration should be given to the assignment of more officers of the Negro race to Consulates in British West Africa in an effort to offset the widespread and growing African criticism of racial practices in the United States and to encourage greater confidence among Africans to discuss matters freely with our Consular officers.

(2) NEA should reconsider its decision regarding the raising of the status of the Consulate at Accra to that of Consulate General.

(3) A separate USIE office should be established at Salisbury to provide for more intensive USIE coverage of British Central Africa which is presently covered from Nairobi.

5. country lines of action—french west and equatorial africa

A. Political

B. Economic

C. Intelligence

D. Military

(1) Continue our efforts to obtain the concurrence of the French authorities to the establishment of an Army liaison office at Dakar.

E. Informational and Cultural

F. Administrative

(1) A consular establishment should be opened at Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

(2) A Consulate General should be opened at Brazzaville, French Equatorial Africa.

5. country lines of action—angola and mozambique

A. Political

(1) Urge the Portuguese, whenever the opportunity arises, to adopt more progressive policies for the political, economic and social advancement of the native inhabitants.

B. Economic

(1) Assist in any way possible in the development of the harbor at Lobito, Angola and with the improvement of the railroad running [Page 1210] from Lobito to the Katanga area of the Belgian Congo, thus providing for an alternative outlet for the strategically important minerals of the Congo and Northern Rhodesia.

(2) Continue to stress to the Portuguese the advantages which would accrue to Portugal through an acceleration in the economic development of these colonies.

C. Intelligence

D. Military

E. Informational and Cultural

F. Administrative

(1) A USIE clerk should be assigned to Luanda as soon as possible.

5. country lines of action—belgian congo and ruanda urundi

A. Political

(1) Urge the Belgians, whenever the opportunity arises, to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the native inhabitants with a view to advancing them along the road to self-government.

B. Economic

C. Intelligence

D. Military

E. Informational and Cultural

F. Administrative

(1) A Public Affairs Officer should be assigned to Leopoldville as soon as possible, to service the Congo, French Equatorial Africa and Angola.

  1. This is one of series of regional policy statements prepared in the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs during 1950. They were prepared by officers within the Bureau and were intended for the guidance of the Bureau and not for further distribution or use. A note attached to the source text indicates that this paper, marked “Fourth Draft,” was given to Assistant Secretary of State McGhee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Berry, and African Affairs Director Bourgerie.
  2. For documentation on the conversations under reference here, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. ii, pp. 434 ff.
  3. For additional documentation on the principal policies and problems in relations with Liberia, see pp. 1274 ff.