Fascinating write up. Congratulations for taking so much perspective on yourself ! This is prime time for you to consider such important life choices, so don't hesitate to take all the time you need to be sure of your decisions.
Disclaimer: I studied a bit of engineering, a bit of economics in business school, worked in the corporate world and now work in the fight against poverty within a social enterprise. My views are very liberal. I also have a very entrepreneurial character, as reported by my colleagues. I feel our trajectories are not too different - I just have a few more years under my belt I guess.
Reading through your summary of Hickel's points, my immediate reaction was that he is pushing his agenda pretty hard. As others have outlined, both relative and absolute poverty have decreased as a % of the population. Of course the growth of population has outpaced the decrease in poverty, but that's a little dishonest to show only this side of the picture.
Regarding neo-colonialism, it's a mixed bag. Yes, there used to be a lot of foreign interference with coups etc. And it might still be there today - I don't know that there is a good way to quantify this. Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. Changing that is a daunting task, but if you believe you are able to make it happen, then by all means, pursue it at all costs.
I would just expand on a couple of points:
I could go on for days about this - feel free to reach out directly if you'd like to continue the conversation in private - but in short, I think promoting the sovereignty of a developing country might not be the best solution to accelerate its development. Providing fertiliser to farmers so that they can grow enough food to feed their families, on the other hand, that's impactful and there's no question about it.