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May 16, 2013

Obama’s 2013 Africa Visit

April 10, 2013 by

President Barack Obama meets with, from left, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde in the Cabinet Room of the White House, March 28, 2013. Pete Souza/White House

It was a story that many people missed. United States president Barack Obama met with four African leaders in Washington in late March 2013: President Sall from Senegal, President Banda from Malawi, President Koroma from Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister Neves from Cape Verde.

A positive step in the right direction for America in Africa, but it is time for Obama to return the favor and once again set foot on the continent.  It was announced late last year that Obama was planning a long overdue African tour sometime in 2013. As a specialist in US-Africa relations and an American living in Africa, I remember thinking simply “Amen!”

There are dozens of reasons why Obama needs to be “here,” but to only mention a few. Firstly, there has been a large amount of key personnel changes when it comes to American foreign policy and its African “leadership.” It would prove beneficial for these individuals to accompany Obama on Air Force One for the ride across of the Atlantic, which in turn would help smooth the transition.

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China’s Dangerous Game: Resource Investment and the Future of Africa

October 9, 2012 by

Chinese and Chadian workers at an oil site in southern Chad, part of China’s growing economic presence in Africa. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times via The New York Times

It was an important day for Angola, June 20th, 2006. Amid the diplomatic pomp and handshakes of an official visit Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao opened the Luanda General Hospital and had his picture taken peering into a microscope surrounded by officials in suits and medics in white smocks.  The capital’s General Hospital, a sprawling eighty-thousand square meter complex, was constructed with Chinese funds and meant to symbolize the growing partnership between Beijing and Angola, a symbol replicated across the African continent in countless roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments.

Premier Wen stayed only 24 hours but the hospital remained; a physical reminder of Sino-African trust and cooperation. Four years later the hospital was in imminent danger of collapse. Deep cracks ran through its walls, bricks crumbled under the structure’s weight. Personnel and 150 patients were evacuated with some forced to live in tents on the hospital grounds. Beijing dispatched an investigatory team and their findings concluded that faulty Angolan surveys resulted in flawed Chinese designs, a diagnosis that has come to symbolize the greater Sino-African relationship: great ambitions built on uncertain ground.

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Emerging Powers expand ties with Africa

September 17, 2012 by

Chinese and Chadian workers at an oil site in southern Chad, part of China’s growing economic presence in Africa. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times via The New York Times

The end of the Cold War resulted in the strategic disengagement of western countries, including the United States, from Africa. They continued their trade, aid and assistance relationship with Africa, but once the threat of communist expansion disappeared, the West interacted with the continent in a different way. This change permitted an opening for several emerging countries to expand their ties with Africa.

As some of these emerging non-African countries became economically strong, they increasingly replaced western influence and engagement in Africa, particularly in certain countries. This new development has fundamentally changed the relationship between the fifty-four countries of Africa and the rest of the world.

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Emerging Powers vie for Influence in Africa

May 4, 2012 by

The end of the Cold War resulted in the strategic disengagement of western countries, including the United States, from Africa. They continued their trade, aid and assistance relationship with Africa, but once the threat of communist expansion disappeared, the West interacted with the continent in a different way. This change permitted an opening for a variety of emerging countries to expand their ties with Africa.

As some of these emerging non-African countries became economically strong, they increasingly replaced western influence and engagement in Africa, particularly in certain countries. This new development has fundamentally changed the relationship between the fifty-four countries of Africa and the rest of the world.

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The United States Reassesses the China-Africa Relationship

January 18, 2012 by

China, India, Brazil and Russia and even smaller non-western countries such as Turkey, Iran and Indonesia steadily have been replacing western influence in Africa throughout the first decade of the 21st century.  China has contributed more to this process than any other single non-western nation and perhaps more than all of the others combined.

China surpassed the United States in 2009 as the largest bilateral trading partner with the combined fifty-three countries in Africa. Although accurate statistics are elusive, Chinese investment in Africa during 2009 may also have been larger than that of any other single nation. Chinese leadership in trade and investment with Africa almost certainly extended through 2010 and will likely continue into the foreseeable future.

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China-Africa Relations: The Big Picture

December 6, 2011 by

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma with Hu Jintao in Beijing. Image via Examiner.com

China has four hard interests in Africa’s fifty-four countries. I exclude from this list interests often cited by Beijing such as support for economic development and political stability in Africa. These are goals or objectives of Chinese policy, but they do not constitute China’s interests any more than they are interests of the United States.

China’s principal interest in Africa is continuing access to raw materials, especially oil, minerals, and agricultural products. China now imports about one-third of its total oil imports from Africa.

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Emerging Powers in Africa

July 12, 2011 by

Leaders of India, Russia, China, South Africa and Brazil in Sanya, China for the BRICS summit in 2011. Image via Kremlin’s Press Office

The end of the Cold War resulted in the strategic disengagement of western countries, including the United States, from Africa.  They continued their trade, aid and assistance relationship with Africa, but once the threat of communist expansion disappeared, the West saw the continent in a different way.  This permitted an opening for a variety of emerging countries to expand their ties with Africa.  As some of these emerging non-African countries became economically strong, they increasingly replaced western influence and engagement in Africa, particularly in certain countries. This new development has fundamentally changed the relationship between the fifty-three countries of Africa and the rest of the world.

China is the most important emerging actor in Africa today. For that matter, China has become the principal non-African presence—western or non-western—in a number of African countries. Other emerging countries are also rapidly expanding their activities on the continent.

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The Impact of China’s Growing Influence in Africa

July 12, 2011 by

Chinese peacekeepers working on road maintenance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are participating in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). Marie Frechon/UN

China is not new to Africa but the change over the decades in its relations with the continent is as revolutionary as China’s own internal revolution. From Mao Zedong’s leadership in 1949 until the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s, China’s ideological foreign policy, Chinese internal developments and other events exogenous to Africa determined the nature of the China-Africa relationship. Although the Cold War had the greatest impact on China’s ties with Africa, the Sino-Soviet conflict that began in the late 1950s and continued until the mid-1980s was almost as important.

China’s Great Leap Forward from 1958 until the early 1960s and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that began in 1966 and continued in a milder form until 1976 also had significant implications for China’s relations with Africa. The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests coincided with the end of the Cold War and marked a watershed in the way Africa viewed China.

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