The New Scramble for Africa

The New Scramble for Africa (Source: Source: Dr Jack & Curtis for City Press, National Institute African Studies (NIAS))

American Vice President Kamala Harris is travelling to Africa this week. Her visit comes on the heels of French president Macron’s tour of Africa (Gabon, Angola, DRC, and RC) at the beginning of March, Pope Francis’ visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan at the end of January and February. Less than 2 weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced—during his visit to Niger—that the United States government will provide $150 million in aid to the Sahel region of Africa. Is it a surprise that this aid is going to Niger, country which borders Mali and Burkina Faso? Jill Biden was in Namibia and Kenya in February; and there were many more American envoys crisscrossing the continent.  Is it a surprise that the US is increasing the number of its AFRICOM bases in Africa? Just northeast of Niger’s capital Niamey, near the city of Agadez, is Air Base 201, with one of the world’s largest drone bases that is home to several armed MQ-9 Reapers.

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l’Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884

This sudden open frenzy for Africa reminds us too much of the Scramble for Africa, after the Berlin Conference when Africa was partitioned and shared among European countries. After all, Africa holds over 50% of some of the most valuable minerals in the world, the largest youthful population on earth, and still has the largest mass of arable lands on earth. Truly Africa is the future, and just like during the cold war era when African soil was the theater of the fight between the east and the west, Africa is now once again at the heart of fight for resources. What this does today with Russia, France, the US, China, and all the other nations courting Africa is give Africans more opportunities for better partnerships, or at least deals that actually benefit their populations and not like what France used to do and still does in Africa, exploiting resources for free, not paying taxes to the locals, and not building any schools, hospitals, or even roads. Can Africans unite, and look out for Africa this time around? These promise to be turbulent times, but Africans have to rise up and stand for Africa’s gains, not signing up deals that line up the pockets of only a few, but truly look for the future and the best of our continent. Below is the excerpt about the VP’s visit from the BBC. The American VP promises more investments as usual… they always give aid programs and debt while they take mines, resources, etc… Enough empty promises and paper (valueless) money for resources. Why not teach the people to fish? African people are tired of getting the fish!

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Map and Flag of Ghana
Map and Flag of Ghana

First it was the US secretary of state who went on a trip to Africa, now it is the vice-president and later in the year the president himself is expected to come.

This flurry of visits by top figures in the US administration reflects a growing awareness that the US needs to deepen its engagement with the continent.

This all comes in the face of growing competition from other global powers, especially China and Russia.

Vice-President Kamala Harris started her nine-day trip in Ghana on Sunday, where she was greeted by drummers and dancers at Kotoko International Airport. She will later go to Tanzania and Zambia.

Ghana, with its focus on strengthening ties with the African diaspora as well as a record of several peaceful democratic transfers of power, provides an ideal launchpad for Ms Harris.

Her trip, according to an official statement, is intended to “build on” December’s US-Africa summit in Washington where President Joe Biden said the US was “all in on Africa’s future“.

But it is that future, boosted by a youthful and growing population as well as the continent’s immense natural resources, that have attracted a lot of other powerful nations vying for influence.

Flag of Ethiopia

While Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s recent visit to Ethiopia and Niger focused on these countries’ security challenges, the vice-president’s tour will take her to nations facing serious economic problems.

… [University of Ghana Economist and professor of finance, Godfred Alufar Bokpin] told the BBC the interest the US is showing in the country and its debt crisis “is good” but he is worried about what he described as “unfavourable terms of trade” with creditor nations.

There is a growing sentiment on the continent that Africa should have a free choice in its relationships with the rest of the world.

Zambia sees the United States in the same way as it sees China and Russia – a friend,” Dr Sishuwa told the BBC.

When a country turns to China, or Russia, or the US for support, this should not be seen as snubbing one major power bloc or the other.

He said attempts to seek exclusive relationships with African countries may be counterproductive and unsustainable.

This echoed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments during a visit to Washington last year when he said: “We should not be told by anyone who we associate with.” …