29 juillet 2022

Diplomatic Valse around Africa and Target of East and West Charms

The Russia – Ukraine conflict had also exacerbated the competition in Africa between the United States, China, the European Union and Russia. Each is actually pursuing an orientation that is an attempt of correction and reinforcement which has evolved in frequent visits of African countries by diplomats decision-makers from the United States, China, Western Europe, the East European Bloc and Russia.

After four years of neglect under the administration of Donald Trump, his successor Joe Biden has set out to restore the influence of the United States in Africa. Mr. Biden’s government has promised to invest at least $55 billion in Africa over the next three years and wants to increase bilateral trade with Africa through the exemption of tariffs and quotas. under its Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

China measures its influence in Africa by the volume of infrastructure investment. As of 2021, China is estimated to hold at least 21% of all African debt. In August 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China announced that it would forgive 23 interest-free loans that matured at the end of 2021 to 17 unspecified African countries.

The European Union is trying to establish a comprehensive political and economic relationship based on trade, investment, aid and technical support from Brussels, in return for increased control of illegal immigration by African states. The European Union should, in the coming months, propose financial incentives – potentially to the tune of several billion euros – mainly in favor of the States of North Africa, for the control of migratory flows. Such measures come after EU leaders stressed at their own summit in Brussels last month the need for more repatriations and to tackle irregular border crossings.

The EU’s “Global Gateway” program, which is the Union’s response to the Chinese “New Silk Road” initiative, provides for the payment of 750 million euros to African States for the financing of infrastructure over the coming year.

During a meeting between the European Commission and the African Union in November 2022, the two sides agreed that the EU would start allocating funds for infrastructure investments from its “Global Gateway” program. The EU should also support the creation of an African Medicines Agency (AMA), alongside the establishment of a “high-level dialogue on economic integration aimed at strengthening trade and investment relations”. African diplomats regularly complain that access to EU funding is subject to more bureaucratic obstacles.

For its part, Russia’s strategy in Africa is based on “memory diplomacy”, but after Moscow invaded Ukraine, these tactics really started to pay off. Russia established a foothold by supporting African leaders during their struggle for national independance. This priveleged relation has been continued with a mixture of arms sales, political support for its authoritarian rulers and security collaboration at the expense of French influence in the region. Sahel and Central Africa. This strategy is usually done in exchange for business opportunities and diplomatic support for Russia’s foreign policy preferences.

During his first tour of the continent in January 2023, Mr. Lavrov visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola and Eritrea. During the second, in February, he traveled to Mali, Sudan and Mauritania to build support for Russia in Africa.

Source: La riposte de l’UE face à l’offensive de charme russe en Afrique

RUSSIA – AFRICA SECURITY ALTERNATIVE and PREVENTIVE

Sub-Saharan Africa and Russia are linked by a long common past. Recently, their relations have aroused growing interest given the international activism of the major emerging countries that make up the BRICS group and the intensity of the debates between them. The fact that Russia sits on the United Nations Security Council in addition to being a member of the BRICS requires deciphering its role in Africa while the group is explicitly positioning itself on the continent. Russia and Ukraine and its related sanctions and their combined economic consequences are actually redefining the relations between the Russian and African States.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Egypt, Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia was meant to show that Moscow still has friends and supporting allies.

Over the past few decades, Russia and China have treated Africa as a strategic partner, which the West has not.While Russia and China are investing in infrastructure, defense, nuclear energy and agriculture, Western projects in Africa are more in the social sphere, health and education, explains Atwer.

Russia and China also claim that their investments are made without political restrictions, while “the West seems to have views on politics and democracy in the countries it supports.”

But perhaps the most important thing in the security area is the Russian presence. Moscow supplied 44% of all African arms imports between 2017 and 2021, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Several African governments have requested Russia’s help in fighting armed groups such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, and in recent years, hundreds of Russian mercenaries are said to have fought in Africa, often helping governments whose rights record humans was lacking. .

“Our country, which has not been stained by the bloody crimes of colonialism, has always unreservedly supported Africans in their struggle to free themselves from colonial oppression,” Mr. Lavrov wrote on this forum.

So far, African countries have refused to join Western sanctions against Russia, and many have taken a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine, with African Union Chairman and Senegalese President Macky Sall calling for them to be lifted. the sanctions. determiners

More than 50 million people in East Africa will face food insecurity this year, according to the World Food Program.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni backed Lavrov’s position, saying banning Russian ships from international ports only exacerbates the crisis.

“In the sanctions that the West took against Russia, they do not mention that it imposed sanctions on wheat or fertilizers […] So, how are the fertilizers? asks President Museveni.

On the mainland, many accuse the West of hypocrisy and cite the war in Libya as well as the recent stockpile of Covid-19 vaccines, says David McNair, executive director of the ONE Campaign, an international coronavirus NGO. Extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

They also compare the treatment of African immigrants in Europe, which some say is discriminatory, to the warm welcome of Ukrainian refugees, adds McNair, who is also a non-resident fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Africa program.
Egypt is Moscow’s largest trading partner on the continent. Bilateral cooperation includes a nuclear power plant currently under construction and there are plans to establish a Russian industrial zone near the Suez Canal.

Of the three African countries visited by Lavrov, Uganda could be the most important market, according to Modibo, as it opens access to the entire East African community, which is home to more than 180 million people. Kenya, the largest economy in the region, is a member.

During his trip, Mr. Lavrov discussed a wide range of projects with his African counterparts and heads of state, ranging from access to natural resources and oil refining to infrastructure, cybersecurity and technology.

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U.S. Administration officials said that next week’s Africa summit, to be held in Washington on Tuesday December 13, Wednesday December 14 and Thursday December 15 2022, reflects a recognition that Africa is critical when it comes to global issues like health, climate and the economy. Several sessions will focus on agriculture and agribusiness, issues that are of greater concern since the food crisis and wheat shortage caused by the war in Ukraine.

But the summit is also unfolding as the United States mounts a concerted push to form and strengthen alliances around the world that will allow it to counter the influence of China.

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China’s President Xi pledges another $60 billion for Africa

“Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most.”

President Xi said, in a possible preview of his speech to the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Africa the week of 7/20/2018 as Beijing moved to further cement its role as one of the continent’s closest economic and diplomatic allies.

On Monday September 3, 2018, Xi outlined eight major initiatives in Africa over the next three years, including plans to establish a China-Africa trade expo, provide one billion reminbi ($146 million) in food aid, extra imports to China from Africa, and a push for green development.

Xi also invited African business leaders to help his country in building the Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious collection of trade and infrastructure projects involving 68 countries. Leaders of 53 African nations descended on the Chinese capital Monday for the start of the two-day summit, largely seeking financial support for their developing economies.  

The announcement was made during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, a triennial meeting between senior Chinese leaders and their counterparts from across Africa.   The financial package is the same amount Beijing pledged at the previous FOCAC summit in 2015, and is in line with analysts’ expectations that Xi would not vastly increase the amount of Chinese money flowing into Africa.   Africa has borrowed about $130 billion from China since 2000, with loans generally used to finance infrastructure projects. 

China Direct and Indirect Investments in Africa and Decline in global Chinese investment

In April 2018, the IMF warned that the African continent is facing a debt crisis, with 40% of low-income countries now in debt distress or at high risk of this.  The pledge in 2015 was three times the figure announced at the 2012 forum.  Over the past nearly two decades, the numbers coming out of FOCAC have generally risen with each event.   Scholars from the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University found that Chinese loans were not yet a major contributor to this debt distress for most nations. Zimbabwe, for example, still owes 77% of its national debt to the Paris Club. In Djibouti, however, China holds 77% of national debt, while Zambia’s $6.4 billion in Chinese loans represents the lion share of its commitments.

The levels of debt owed by African and South Asian nations to China have raised concerns in the West and among citizens – but roads and railways have been built that would not exist otherwise:

It has already funded trains, roads, and ports, with Chinese construction firms given lucrative contracts to connect ports and cities – funded by loans from Chinese banks.

Chinese financing comes often in the form of loans and credits provided by the People’s Bank of China, the China Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank of China, and the China-Africa Development Fund. Between 2000 and 2014, Chinese banks, contractors, and the government loaned more than $86 billion to Africa, according to SAIS-CARI. Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan were the top recipients. However, these large loans are beginning to raise questions about debt loads in African countries, showing indications of a potential debt crisis.

Diversification of China Interests in Africa

Beijing has steadily diversified its business interests in Africa. China has participated in energy, mining, and telecommunications industries and financed the construction of roads, railways, ports, airports, hospitals, schools, and stadiums. Investment from a mixture of state and private funds has also set up tobacco, rubber, sugar, and sisal plantations. Domestic economic conditions drove Chinese firms to break into new markets for its consumer goods and excess industrial capacity as part of China’s “going out” or “going global” strategy. Chinese investment in Africa also fits into Chinese President Xi Jinping’s development framework, “One Belt, One Road,” which joins a continental economic belt and a maritime road to promote cooperation and interconnectivity from Eurasia to Africa.


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