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Prophets of development: An investigation into Kaiser Industries’ economic relationship with Ghana, 1957-1965


Kaiser Industries had been able to amass political influence in the United States during the heights of the Great Depression and translated those relationships into benefits. Kaiser industries became emissaries for American democracy, while at the same time looking towards the company’s bottom line. Their story is not unique, as the United States would encourage several high profile American companies to enter into business in foreign states that the American government was looking to curry political favour. Simultaneously, the creation of the Breton-Woods system, such as the World Bank Group and its subsidiaries, ready to support and “lend” to projects that had the backing of the US, the story I seek to tell reaches multiple dimensions of Cold War geopolitics. This is a story of development and the dangers of competing interests. The US sought alliances to curb the Soviet Union and the spread of communism; Ghana sought assistance in industrializing and introducing modern businesses into the nascent nation; Kaiser sought new markets to exploits and over time, Kaiser Executives were able to forge close and personal links with Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah. They used these connections to also assist them pushing their agenda, which at times conflicted with Ghana’s own stated agenda. Ultimately, this is a look at business practices in the shadow of the Cold War and its connections to neocolonialism.