22. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to the Secretary of State 1


  • Request for Approval of a United States Policy of Cooperation with other Governments in Organizing a Colombo Plan2 for Africa


The British Foreign Office has requested through the British Embassy in Washington the Department’s views on a proposed Colombo Plan for Africa.3 NEA has discussed the proposal with other interested offices of the Department and it is generally agreed that a Colombo-type plan of technical cooperation for Africa would be consistent with and contribute to United States foreign policy objectives. It was the consensus also that the United States should cooperate in developing the plan. The social, economic, and political ferment in Africa is undermining the influence of the Metropoles in guiding the evolution of the African peoples along sound and orderly lines. The situation calls for a cooperative and sustained effort in Africa by not only the Metropoles but other developed nations of the west. A Colombo-type plan of technical cooperation for Africa would:

Encourage (a) the Colonial Powers to continue to assist both their territories and former territories, (b) the African peoples involved to continue to collaborate with and look primarily to the Metropoles for assistance, and (c) continuation of the mutual interdependence so vital to them;
Increase the number of developed western nations participating in meeting Africa’s development needs and the volume and types of technical assistance available to Africa;
Relieve the growing pressure on the United States to assume a major and expanding role in meeting Africa’s need for external aid as our ability to do so is likely to be limited by the growing Congressional sentiment for reducing aid programs;
Encourage the African peoples to focus their attention on Africa instead of joining blocs with other parts of the world;
Provide a multilateral planning and consultative organization in which the dependent territories and independent countries in Africa (a) would be able to discuss their development needs and programs with the Metropoles and other western nations and (b) would have a wider choice of sources of aid.


That you authorize the Department’s representatives to inform the United Kingdom that the proposal for a Colombo-type plan of technical cooperation for Africa appears to have considerable merit and to be worthy of further consideration but that we would first wish to know the views of the other Metropoles before giving our final position.4

  1. Source: Department of State, AF/AFS Files: Lot 59 D 293, Regional CCTA. Confidential. Drafted by Longanecker.
  2. The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia went into effect July 1, 1951. Intended to spur long-term development, it included as members: Australia, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaya, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom (Singapore and British Borneo), the United States, and Vietnam.
  3. The Consultative Committee for Technical Assistance in Africa (CCTA) produced a modest “Colombo Plan” proposal which the British asked the United States to consider. (Memorandum of conversation by LaMont, June 3, and memorandum of conversation by Longanecker, August 13; Department of State, Central Files, 870.00/6–357 and 870.00/8–1357)CCTA was composed of Belgium, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa, and the Central African Federation. It was set up in 1950, but not formalized until January 18, 1954. Ghana became a member in 1957 and Liberia in 1958.
  4. When the British requested a reply on August 23, LaMont acknowledged that the plan had some merit, but indicated that since it was still in the formulative stage it was too early for the United States to make a judgment. (Memorandum of conversation by LaMont; ibid., 870.00/8–2357)