3. Report by the Operations Coordinating Board0

OCB REPORT ON AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA (NSC 5719/1)1

Mr. President, this is the first progress report on the first NSC policy paper on Africa South of the Sahara. It covers the period from August 1957 through March 1958. This map shows in color the three [Page 12]independent nations and 24 dependent territories, comprising 3,900,000 whites and 150,000,000 non-whites, covered by the policy. The most notable aspects of the report are:

  • First, the widespread suspicion of the U.S. on the part of the metropolitan powers having dependencies in the area. It should be noted that the policy (paragraph 25–a) specifically prescribes “avoiding an impression in presently dependent areas that the U.S. is prepared to underwrite their eventual independence” and (paragraph 13–d) “cooperate with the metropolitan powers … 2 making it clear that we are not trying to supplant the metropoles.” The importance of this admonition is borne out by the report which stresses the existence of metropolitan suspicion, in varying degree and form, throughout the area. In places such a Nigeria where there is no white settler problem, this suspicion is minimal; but in other British dependencies, such as Kenya and Tanganyika, where the white settler problem is acute, it is considerable. The French remain suspicious of all USIS activities, and the Belgians have become so suspicious of all U.S. activities in the Belgian Congo that it has been necessary to approach them at a high level and tell them frankly the reasons and need for increased U.S. activity in Africa. The Portuguese are most bitter and outspoken about their resentment of what they regard as American anti-colonialism.
  • Secondly, the report stresses the susceptibility of the racial nationalist and anti-colonial sentiments of indigenous peoples to political exploitation. The Communists have used the Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference, and its permanent follow-up, the Afro-Asian Solidarity Council, as their principal vehicle to exploit this susceptibility; however, their domination of this conference was so blatant that they may have overplayed their hand. The Communists have also used terrorist and guerrilla activities with effect in the French Camerouns trust territory, and continue to exercise potent influence in the African National Congress in the Union of South Africa.

They have also been able to appear effectively in some areas as champion of the oppressed colonies.

The final significant aspect of the report is the economic element of the Soviet and Western activities in the area. In 1957 the Soviets spectacularly increased their imports from Ghana over 1956, purchasing 11.4% ($17.5 million) of Ghana’s total exports, as compared with 2.4% in 1956. A Soviet trade mission visited Ghana last November and Ghana trade missions are scheduled to visit both Communist China and the USSR in the near future. The West has also taken effective steps in the economic field, including (a) your well received reply to Prime Minister Nkrumah on the Volta River project,3 to which [Page 13]the government of Ghana attaches so much importance, and U.S. encouragement of private enterprise to participate in that project, (b) the setting up of the Foundation for Mutual Assistance of African countries South of the Sahara, which the U.S. has expressed its willingness to join, and which is designed to supply technical assistance to the region,4 and (c) the proposed establishment of the Economic Commission for Africa (under the UN)5 similar to those regional commissions which have been established for other areas (which the U.S. cannot join if it wishes to keep the Soviets out).

Liberia has shown increasing irritation at the U.S. and a desire to associate itself more closely to the Afro-Asian bloc, primarily because of competition with Ghana for international recognition, but also because of resentment against unfavorable American press treatment. Looking ahead, the U.S. has extended an official invitation to Prime Minister Nkrumah to visit the U.S. in July of this year (which has been accepted). ICA is now investigating a Ghana request that the U.S. explore other possible ways to implement the Volta River project, since its own negotiations for external financing have been unsuccessful so far, and the Development Loan Fund is in receipt of applications from Liberia and many of the U.K. dependencies.

No policy review is recommended.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Secret. This report was a presentation made by the Vice Chairman of the Operations Coordinating Board and Special Assistant to the President for Security Operations Coordination, Karl G. Harr, Jr., before the 363d Meeting of the National Security Council on April 24.
  2. For text of NSC 5719/1, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XVIII, pp. 75 76. An OCB Report on NSC 5719/1, March 21, covered the period from August 23, 1957, to March 19, 1958. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5719 Series)
  3. Ellipsis in the source text.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Documentation on the Foundation for Mutual Assistance in Africa South of the Sahara, which was established by the Commission for Technical Cooperation in Africa South of the Sahara in February 1958, is in Department of State, Central File 870.00.
  6. Resolution 671 (XXV), adopted by the U.N. Economic and Social Council on April 29, 1958, established the Economic Commission for Africa.