Trump Says His Pals Go To Africa To 'Get Rich.' Is That Offensive?

Added: 06-26-2018

This reflection article interviews three African professionals to summarize general responses to President Trump’s comments at the United Nations (UN) in August 2017. Some members of the African diaspora are opposed to and infuriated by the way Trump makes clear his interest to exploit Africa for its wealth; others see his interest as a positive shift away from negative rhetoric and aid-focused narratives.

natural resources Africa United Nations (UN) colonialism exploitation income wealth investment Donald Trump energy resources oil neocolonialism

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 3 minutes MALAKA GHARIB 09-25-2017
Type Reading Time
article 3 minutes
Author Date
malaka gharib 2018-06-26 00:00:00 UTC
Key Takeaways

  • Some see Donald Trump and other western businesspeople as neocolonialists, focused on exploiting African resources. 
  • Others support western business ventures, citing that business, not aid will help Africa accomplish development goals.


In this response piece, Malaka Gharib outlines how President Trump’s comments about Africa at the 2017 United Nations (UN) week were controversial and transparent. First, Trump’s comments on “getting rich in Africa” were upsetting and conjured images of the continent's colonialist past. Gharib interviews an Sudanese-American entrepreneur living in the US, who explains that what Trump refers to when he says ‘getting rich’ is that he will take advantage of low prices in African labor and resources. 

Alternatively, other people interviewed for the article, such as a Zambian lawyer and a Nigerian-based physician and entrepreneur, feel that Trump’s comments are hopeful. Instead of emphasizing the negative aspects of African economics or development statistics, the president emphasized “tremendous business potential;” instead of emphasizing aid, he emphasized business. 


Many, including Ngozi Okonjo Iweala speaking in this TED Talk, have long argued that the way to bring Africa up, so to speak, is through investment in business, not aid.