Neocolonialism labels European countries' continued economic and cultural relationships with their former colonies, African countries that had been liberated in the aftermath of Second World War. Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana (1960–66), coined the term, which appeared in the 1963 preamble of the Organization of African Unity Charter, and was the title of his 1965 book Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965). Nkrumah theoretically developed and extended to the post–War 20th century the socio-economic and political arguments presented by Lenin in the pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917). The pamphlet frames 19th-century imperialism as the logical extension of geopolitical power, to meet the financial investment needs of the political economy of capitalism. In Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism, Kwame Nkrumah wrote:
In place of colonialism, as the main instrument of imperialism, we have today neo-colonialism . . . like colonialism, is an attempt to export the social conflicts of the capitalist countries. . . .
The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment, under neo-colonialism, increases, rather than decreases, the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world. The struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed.
Neocolonialism was used to describe a type of foreign intervention in countries belonging to the Pan-Africanist movement, as well as the Bandung Conference (Asian–African Conference, 1955), which led to the Non-Aligned Movement (1961). Neocolonialism was formally defined by the All-African Peoples' Conference (AAPC) and published in the Resolution on Neo-colonialism. At both the Tunis conference (1960) and the Cairo conference (1961), AAPC described the actions of the French Community of independent states, organized by France, as neocolonial.
Throughout the decades of the Cold War, the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America defined neocolonialism as the primary, collective enemy of the economies and cultures of their respective countries. Moreover, neocolonialism was integrated into the national liberation ideologies of Marxist guerrilla armies. During the 1970s, in the Portuguese African colonies of Mozambique and Angola, upon assuming government power, the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO, Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), and the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola — Labour Party (MPLA, Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola — Partido do Trabalho), respectively, established policies to counter neocolonial agreements with the (former) colonist country.
The representative example of European neocolonialism is Françafrique, the "French Africa" constituted by the continued close relationships between France and its former African colonies. In 1955, the initial usage of the "French Africa" term, by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Ivory Coast, denoted positive social, cultural and economic Franco–African relations. It was later applied by neocolonialism critics to describe an imbalanced international relation. The politician Jacques Foccart, the principal advisor for African matters to French presidents Charles de Gaulle (1958–69) and Georges Pompidou (1969–1974), was the principal proponent of Françafrique. The works of Verschave and Beti reported a forty-year, post-independence relationship with France's former colonial peoples, which featured colonial garrisons in situ and monopolies by French multinational corporations, usually for the exploitation of mineral resources. It was argued that the African leaders with close ties to France — especially during the Soviet–American Cold War (1945–91) — acted more as agents of French business and geopolitical interests, than as the national leaders of sovereign states. Cited examples are Omar Bongo (Gabon), Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Ivory Coast), Gnassingbé Eyadéma (Togo), Denis Sassou-Nguesso (Republic of the Congo), Idriss Déby (Chad), and Hamani Diori (Niger).
After the decolonization of Belgian Congo, Belgium continued to control, through the Société Générale de Belgique, an estimated 70% of the Congolese economy following the decolonization process. The most contested part was in the province of Katanga where the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, part of the Société, controlled the mineral-resource-rich province. After a failed attempt to nationalize the mining industry in the 1960s, it was reopened to foreign investment.