That’s a very loaded question that can get you into heated arguments very easily.

I personally would say it did play a role, but around the 1950ties many of the formerly colonized countries were relatively speaking not so badly off economically. But what it really enabled was providing the infrastructure and laying the groundwork for the local elites taking over almost seamlessly from their former colonial overlords and subsequently embezzling all the growth that other countries (mainly in east-Asia) used to fuel big improvements in the welfare of their citizens.

Of course, their old (i.e. the former colonizers) and sometimes new (self-proclaimed socialist states) friends did their best to help the local elites with the embezzlement and other abuses, but that is a somewhat different topic than the original colonialism.

A kind of interesting case here is Liberia. In the early 19th century it was colonized by former enslaved people from the United States under the blessings of white people from the US. They turned right around and essentially enslaved the indigenous people. That created a small wealthy upper class with support from the US that was resented by the rest of the population. Eventually around 1980 the indigenous people toppled the ruling class, but unfortunately that led to 20 years of turmoil. It’s only recently that things have started to really show progress.

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