China is leaving everyone behind when it comes with making investments and partnerships with Africa. Europe feels it’s lagging behind, and now so does the U.S. The White House recently unveiled the Trump administration’s “new” Africa strategy for the U.S., drafted by national security adviser John Bolton. Few are impressed.
“Washington’s take on Africa is stuck somewhere between the 19th-century scramble and the Cold War, when the continent played proxy for superpower rivalry,” the Financial Times reported.
Instead of looking at where the U.S. can make strategic partnerships and deals, the Trump administration is looking to where it can dominate, and most of all it wants Africa to choose the U.S. over China and Russia.
“Great power competitors, namely China and Russia, are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa. They are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States,” Bolton said.
What Washington is forgetting is that China has invested in Africa for the long haul — and most experts say there aren’t many strings attached.
“Many African governments like to work with the Chinese because it’s traditionally been a strictly business-to-business relationship,” said Richard Downie, acting director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Africa Program. “There’s been less conditionality in types of support that the Chinese – especially the state-backed companies – (have) offered to governments.”
Africa and its 1.2 billion have never garnered enough attention from the U.S. and its Western allies, experts say, “but Trump’s administration seems especially indifferent. If the U.S. doesn’t prioritize this rapidly growing bloc of countries soon, it will be too late – Africa will have moved on to other partners who will,” US News & World Report reported.
The U.S. influence in Africa has been decreasing since 2011, when there was a major drop in crude oil exports from Africa. The African Growth and Opportunity Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, was an effort to make some inroads.
Over the next 35 years, Africa will account for more than half of the world’s population growth, according to United Nations estimates. That’s one of the main reasons why the focus is on Africa now.
Written by Ann Brown