24. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Satterthwaite) to the Under Secretary of State (Dillon)0


  • United States Assistance to Sub-Sahara Africa


There is general agreement in the Department that events in Africa have moved so rapidly as to have overtaken our ability to cope with them. The political evolution of Africa has indeed progressed to a point where, in my opinion, the Executive Branch must be prepared to treat the continent as a major policy area. My use of the phrase Executive Branch is deliberate, because the only major policy disagreement is our divergence with Treasury and the Bureau of the Budget (BOB) currently epitomized in the pending National Security Council (NSC) policy paper for West Africa.1

The fundamental split appears in the Economic Section of the paper, wherein Treasury and BOB suggest primary reliance on other free world sources of capital to meet the needs of West Africa. While we hope and expect that the European countries will provide substantial amounts of assistance, I believe we must depend to a larger extent than at present on our own resources to take whatever action may become necessary for our national interest. The political situation may change or relations worsen so quickly between metropole states and their dependencies or former dependencies that other Guineas may develop. Complete dependence on metropoles or former metropoles is dangerously unrealistic if we are determined to retain a Western-oriented African continent. The Treasury-BOB point of view would put the United States in the position of being able to take positive action only in order to counter Soviet moves and would condemn us to a negative, secondary role in Africa. I very much doubt that additional committee work, surveys or reviews would resolve this dispute. What is needed is a decision by the President.

Once such a decision was obtained we would be in a position rationally to consider problems of assistance. The main policy lines seem to be clear. However, intensive expert study on specific problems [Page 100] is needed. Much could be accomplished by your designation of Africa as an area to receive priority attention by all interested offices of the Department and associated agencies.

Pending such study and emergence of its results, we must decide immediately whether we should seek additional funds now for FY 1961. As a practical matter, I do not believe it would be wise to scrap our existing presentation this late in the legislative process. I believe we can get through FY 1961 with our presently requested levels of aid provided a number of recommended actions (discussed below) are taken. Whatever additional requirements develop during the year for new programs in emerging countries can, I trust, be covered by the Contingency Fund.

I would like to highlight a recommendation which I believe would substantially improve our position in African eyes without requiring an immediate increase in aid for Africa. A major speech by the Secretary, directed specifically toward the newly independent and emerging countries of Africa and expressing US interest in their development and willingness to help, would in my opinion, be of great help at the present time.

There is one additional requirement that I consider urgent: ways must be found to increase the rate of loan activity of the Development Loan Fund (DLF) and the Export-Import Bank. These institutions serve as symbols of the United States interest in Africa, thus partially compensating for the scarcity of the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) funds programmed for FY 1961. I urge that DLF be instructed to give priority attention to Tropical Africa and to review its criteria and procedures in order to meet the special problems African loans present. DLF operations in Africa are hampered by the inability of newly-organized governments to prepare in proper form, the necessary feasibility surveys and project data needed to support applications, by the policies of DLF generally to cover foreign exchange costs only and by restricting procurement to the United States.

I do not believe that we can any longer avoid a forthright position that we are genuinely determined to help the peoples of Africa to cope with their problems and secure their newly won independence on solid economic foundations. Our posture must give Africans the impression that the United States regards Africa as an important region in world affairs in its own right and not just as an adjunct in the Cold War.

Although we are concerned with Communism we should not overemphasize it in our public statements on Africa. To imply by words or deeds that we are suddenly interested in Africa only because the Bloc has become interested will result in driving Africans into cynical neutralism or worse. To pledge our interest and intention to help, and then to fail to respond promptly and adequately when [Page 101] requests materialize, would only tend to confirm an impression already unfortunately created by the contrasting actions of the Bloc and the West in Guinea, that only one side in the Cold War really understands and appreciates the problems of newly emergency [emerging] nations.

The following paragraphs discuss specific topics which I believe are of sufficient importance to warrant your attention.

I. Matters for Urgent Decision or Action

A. Speech by the Secretary.

I have been impressed by the fact that most of the African leaders, completely apart from any aid requests, want us to treat Africa with dignity, understanding and as an equal. CU in its attached paper (Tab B) states: “The greatest immediate problem is the lack of bold initiative in creating a new climate between the United States and the emerging nations of this vast continent. We are faced again with a situation not unlike that which confronted us at the time of the announcement of the Marshall Plan. … We need such a clear call again. Before Khrushchev visits Africa later this year, we need a speech addressed to all its people as co-equals in the task of creating peace with freedom and justice, a speech which sets the record straight to the whole world, on US intentions to strengthen in Africa and elsewhere, every democratic force in the free world.”2 Several other contributors, including S/P,3 have made a similar recommendation.

1. Recommendation:

That you urge the Secretary to make a major speech directed specifically toward Africa.

B. Overall Policy.

As discussed above, there is urgent need for a decision on whether we are to have a positive or negative policy on Africa. Although the issue is obscured by the compromises and hair-splitting phraseology which emerge from the NSC machinery, there is in fact a deep divergence within the Government. Until this is settled, I do not see how it is possible for us to pursue a positive, constructive or imaginative policy toward Africa.

[Page 102]

2. Recommendation:

That you endeavor to obtain a Presidential decision that in order to keep Tropical Africa out of Soviet hands, the United States Government should actively demonstrate its sympathy for and desire to assist emerging countries there, and should make every effort to obtain the minimum appropriations necessary to do so.

C. Current Appropriations.

As discussed above, it appears to me impractical now to modify the FY 1961 budget requests. As pointed out in the attached ICA paper (Tab C),4 however, up to $2.5 million in additional TC funds will be required if we are to make even a gesture in this field to several of the countries becoming independent this year. In certain special situations, (not now identifiable) there will also be extraordinary economic development and special assistance needs. It will therefore be necessary to re-program modest amounts from other areas, or to cover these requirements from the contingency fund. I concur with the ICA estimate of $10–15 million for grant special assistance for projects not covered by the present definition and scope of the Special Program for Tropical Africa.

3. Recommendation:

That you be prepared to allocate, when requested, from the FY 1961 contingency, when available, up to $2.5 million for additional Technical Cooperation requirements and up to $15 million for grant special assistance.

D. Need for Increased Loan Activity.

This matter is discussed above. Most of the attached papers5 emphasize its importance.

4. Recommendation:

That you (a) declare Tropical Africa a priority area for DLF activity; (b) request the DLF Board to initiate a review of its policies and procedures in order to accommodate special problems of loans in Africa; and (c) discuss with Exim Bank the need to increase their loan activity in Africa.

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E. Timely Preparation for Aid Programs.

The foundation for future influence in Africa that is laid in the period immediately preceding and following independence is bound to be of decisive importance. This underlines the necessity for early action on the part of the US if strong ties and a favorable environment for future cooperation are to be established.

5. Recommendation:

That you (a) authorize ICA immediately to assign an officer to the consular office in each country which does not already have a US aid program and which is scheduled for independence, to undertake preliminary studies of priority needs, explain our aid procedures, do “preprogramming” of projects, request short term ICA study groups as appropriate, and possibly act as the nucleus of a USOM. And (b) authorize the dispatch to appropriate consulates of information outlining forms of assistance we are prepared to offer under MSP, PL 480 and DLF. This would serve as guidelines for responding to aid requests.

F. Non-Governmental Efforts.

It is a truism that Government by itself cannot do everything in erupting areas such as Tropical Africa and an equal effort is required on the part of private business, charitable organizations, educational foundations, church groups and individual Americans. Mr. Thayer,6 has recently made considerable progress in persuading the Foundations to work more closely together but by and large private activities in Africa are hit or miss, uncoordinate and, in many cases, shy and hesitant. Private investment fears political instability and the possibility that new African states will nationalize industry and commerce.

6. Recommendation:

That you suggest the inclusion in the speech to be made by the Secretary of (a) an appeal to all private organizations interested or actually working in Africa to meet together periodically to examine mutual problems and coordinate their general approach to Africa; and (b) a reference to the willingness of the United States Government to negotiate investment guarantee agreements with a new African state immediately upon its achievement of independence.

II. Matters Requiring Further Study

Several of the attached papers recommend high level Task Forces or surveys with rather broad charters. I do not believe such activities are desirable at the present time. We have available the results of numerous such studies conducted in the recent past such as the Vice President’s Report to the President on his trip to Africa in 1957,7 the M.I.T. Economic Survey of Africa South of the Sahara; Africa—the study, [Page 104] prepared by Northwestern University for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee;8 the National Academy of Sciences, Recommendations for Strengthening Science and Technology in Africa South of the Sahara.9 The main lines of policy are clear (assuming a decision on the basic question whether we are to have a positive or negative policy). What is needed now is detailed expert study of ways and means.

A. Arms Policy.

A group has been working on this subject for some weeks and it is making good progress. No further directives are necessary at the moment.

B. Problems of Single Commodity Countries.

One of the most dangerous weapons of Soviet economic infiltration in Africa is bloc willingness to buy all the export produce of single commodity countries. Until the West develops some way of assuring these countries a ready market for their exports at reasonable prices our policy is to a dangerous extent dependent on world commodity price fluctuations.

7. Recommendation:

That you ask Mr. Mann10 to designate and chair a committee to recommend ways and means of assuring friendly single commodity countries a ready market for their exports at reasonable and stable prices.

C. Aid Procedures.

Africa is not Europe nor is it even India. We must seek to develop tools for economic cooperation which are particularly suitable for Africa. New concepts of mutual security assistance and the application of existing concepts with greater flexibility are necessary. The terms of ICA technical assistance agreements may have to be altered to fit Africa’s sensitivities and inexperience. Procedures which are suitable elsewhere in the world may not be acceptable because of inexperience and sensitivity and should not necessarily apply in Africa. Frustration and delay in US programs will jeopardize our position in Africa through failure of these programs, which, in most cases, are not costly and contribute greatly to the US presence.

8. Recommendation:

That you ask Mr. Riddleberger11 to designate a committee to assess the effectiveness of our aid tools and methods as applied to [Page 105] Africa, review the terms of bilateral agreements and recommend changes or new procedures particularly suited to the conditions in that continent and our policies in regard thereto.

D. Multilateral Versus Bilateral Aid.

There is increasing discussion of the advantages of channeling more of our aid to African through the United Nations or an African multilateral agency.12 This is a complicated and controversial subject on each side of which there are persuasive arguments. It is my feeling that a detailed study would be of great help in finding the right answers.

9. Recommendation:

That you authorize me to designate and chair a committee to recommend whether we should shift the emphasis in our aid to Africa from bilateral to multilateral and if so, to what extent and in what specific programs.

E. Identification of African Countries with Aid Efforts.

Although no African reaction to the recent DAG13 meeting has come to our attention, it will probably not be long before African countries will demand a voice in international organizations dealing with trade, aid and other economic matters directly affecting them. If the present Greek negotiations with the EEC are successful, a pattern will have been created which not only Tunisia but some sub-Saharan countries will want to follow. It is important that African desires for a voice in international economic bodies whose decisions directly affect them be worked out in a harmonious and mutually satisfactory way.

10. Recommendation:

That you (a) authorize discreet encouragement to African states to become members of the IMF, IBRD and IDA; and (b) designate a committee headed by a member of your staff to consider ways and means of facilitating African identification with Western economic organizations of direct interest to them, through direct association or through an indigenous organization of “aid receivers,” or both.

F. Exchanges of Persons.

Most of our missions consistently emphasize the importance of student, leader and other exchange of persons programs to our long term position and influence in Africa. We have done some study on [Page 106] this subject and have tentatively concluded that such programs should be expanded at a somewhat more rapid rate than they are and that procedures should be made more flexible.

11. Recommendation:

That you authorize me to designate and chair a committee to examine the content of and procedures governing all exchange of persons programs in Africa and make recommendations thereon.

Many of the attached papers prepared by interested offices for the meeting with you contain other valuable suggestions for possible implementation; others have raised very thoughtful policy issues which because of their fundamental nature require further study and consideration. I have tried to focus on issues which need your immediate decision.

I believe it would be desirable to meet with you in three months in order to present the findings and recommendations of the committees suggested above. Your decisions, at that time, will be required for proper guidance to the field for FY 1962 programming.

For your convenience and signature there is attached a Recapitulation of Recommendations (Tab A).

  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1. Confidential. Drafted by Dolgin and Penfield and sent through the Executive Secretariat. The attachments to the source text, not printed, were intended for a meeting which took place on April 7; see Document 26.
  2. See Document 27.
  3. Ellipsis in the source text. The quote was taken from a memorandum prepared in the Bureau of International Cultural Relations, March 1 (Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Africa, 1959-1960)
  4. The paper prepared by the Policy Planning Staff, “US Policy Toward Africa South of the Sahara,” maintained that in view of the African need for economic aid and technical assistance, “it is evident that as the African States gain their independence their demands for aid will increase. It is also evident that our past policy of looking to the former metropolitan powers as primary sources of aid will not suffice in the future, even allowing for some increase in UN technical assistance and other multilateral programs for Africa.” (Ibid.)
  5. Leonard J. Saccio, Deputy Director of ICA, transmitted this paper to Satterthwaite on March 25. (Ibid.)
  6. The papers not already cited include: “Recapitulation of Recommendations;” “The Soviet Bloc Challenge in Sub-Sahara Africa and Certain Implications for U.S. Policy,” prepared in U/CEA, March 22; “Policy Towards Economic Assistance to Tropical Africa,” prepared in U/MSC and transmitted as an enclosure to a memorandum from John O. Bell to Satterthwaite, March 25; “Economic Development Policy in Africa,” prepared in OFD/ED and transmitted as an attachment to a memorandum from Edwin M. Martin to Satterthwaite, March 22; “Promoting U.S. Interests South of the Sahara through the U.N.,” transmitted as a memorandum from Francis O. Wilcox to Satterthwaite, March 23; “EUR Interests and Points of View Regarding U.S. Assistance to Africa South of the Sahara,” conveyed as a memorandum from Kohler to Satterthwaite, March 19; and “Support of Republic of China and Countering Chinese Communist Penetration in Black Africa,” transmitted as an attachment to a memorandum from Edwin W. Martin to Dolgin, March 18. (Ibid.)
  7. Robert H. Thayer, Special Assistant to the Secretary for the Coordination of International Educational and Cultural Relations.
  8. See Foreign Relations, 1955–1957 vol. XVIII, pp. 5766.
  9. Committee Print No. 4, 86th Congress, 1st Session, October 23, 1959.
  10. Prepared by the National Academy of Sciences for ICA on July 1, 1959. The Executive Director of the study was J. George Harrar, Vice President of the Rockefeller Fund, and the Chairman of the Steering Committee was Dr. W. Albert Noyes, Jr., Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester. (Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, West Africa—Documents—1960)
  11. Thomas C. Mann, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.
  12. James W. Riddleberger, Director of the International Cooperation Administration.
  13. Francis O. Wilcox, who had visited Africa, January 21-February 19, advocated an expansion of U.N. activities and multilateral aid in Africa in an address at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, on March 25. For text of his remarks, see Department of State Bulletin, April 18, 1960, pp. 589-597.
  14. The first meeting of the Development Assistance Group had taken place in Washington, March 9–11, with representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Commission of the European Economic Community. For text of the communiqué issued on March 11, see ibid., April 11, 1960, pp. 577-578.