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Less Than an Empire and More Than British: Foreign Investor Competition in Ghana and Nigeria in the 1960s

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Imagining Britain’s Economic Future, c.1800–1975


The post-war British Empire has been described as ‘more than British and less than an imperium’. Once decolonisation began, it was ‘nationalized and internationalized as part of the Anglo-American coalition’. This process continued after independence in Ghana and Nigeria, which experienced economic booms that attracted different international investors, sometimes with political motivation and frequently with home country support in terms of risk guaranties. These investments favoured contracting, turnkey factories and suppliers’ credit, which created a political economy of favouritism and corruption that saddled newly independent countries with significant amounts of debt when economic conditions deteriorated. Substantial competition between Western foreign investors, such as West Germany, the UK and the USA, were the result of a shared economic vision of Western economic dominance around the world.

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  29. 29.

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  30. 30.

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    Dr Boden [chairman of AG Aussenhandel], to state secretary Dr L. Westrick, 20 Mar 1959, PAAA B55.2-287.

  32. 32.

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  35. 35.

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  38. 38.

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  39. 39.

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  40. 40.

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  41. 41.

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  42. 42.

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  45. 45.

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  46. 46.

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  47. 47.

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  48. 48.

    Danylow and Soenius, Otto Wolff.

  49. 49.

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  50. 50.

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  51. 51.

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  52. 52.

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  53. 53.

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  54. 54.

    Calhoun to E.F. Kaiser, 19 Dec 1963, BANC MSS 87/35 c, Trefethen papers, Ctn. 42, fl 11.

  55. 55.

    ‘Ghana after Nkrumah’, pp. 554–555.

  56. 56.

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  57. 57.

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  58. 58.

    Dmitri van den Bersselaar and Stephanie Decker, ‘“No longer at ease”: corruption as an institution’, International Journal of Public Administration, 34 (2011), pp. 741–752.


I would like to thank Rory Miller (University of Liverpool) and Kairn Klieman (University of Houston) for sharing some of their archival research on the ECGD and the Rockefeller Foundation, respectively, with me. Nicholas White and Hanaan Marwah kindly read a draft of this chapter and provided constructive comments.

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Decker, S. (2018). Less Than an Empire and More Than British: Foreign Investor Competition in Ghana and Nigeria in the 1960s. In: Thackeray, D., Thompson, A., Toye, R. (eds) Imagining Britain’s Economic Future, c.1800–1975. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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