Editor’s Note: December 14, 2018

Washington is going backwards in Africa

John Bolton, U.S. president Donald Trump’s hawkish national security advisor, on Thursday revealed details of the administration’s new Africa policy.

It has little to do with Africa.

While claiming to prioritize economic ties with the continent the focus is on countering the “great power competitors” of China and Russia, whose “predatory practices” in Africa are undermining its independence and growth, while posing a “significant threat to U.S. national security interests.”Along with countering the “proliferation of Radical Islamic Terrorism”, this constitutes the crux of the policy.

Washington’s new $60bn development budget – which matches an investment pledge by China – is to be used solely to advance US interests in Africa, with governments facing a good versus bad  alignment choice in terms of development partners.

The language is alarmingly out of step with realities in Africa, where multilateralism is the focus.

The inclusion of Russia – a marginal actor – as a “great power” shows a lack of understanding of the continent’s multi-faceted external affairs.

It makes one wonder if Bolton has ever been to Africa. If so he should know that trade, investment and soft power are the preferred tools of engagement these days – not Cold War era isolationism.

This ‘new’ policy is a step backwards.

From The Continent

Eritrea’s president Isaias Afwerki is on his first visit to Somalia to consolidate warming relations between the two, part a year of unprecedented rapprochement in the Horn of Africa led by Ethiopia. Both countries, long bogged down by conflict and regional tension, are sitting on vast untapped hydrocarbon reserves. More: The National


A fire has destroyed 8,000 voting machines in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa - 80% of the city’s stock - ahead of presidential elections on December 23rd. The unexplained fire comes amid rising tensions ahead of the vote, with at least 3 people killed in opposition rallies this week. More: CNN

The Daily Stat

$22-$28m

The amount Egyptian financial services firm Pharos Holding plans to commit to microfinance in the first quarter of 2019. More: Reuters

The Global Perspective

Nigeria has filed a $1.1bn lawsuit against oil majors Shell and Eni in a London court over the controversial 2011 purchase of an oilfield in the country. The sale of OPL 245 is also at the heart of a major ongoing corruption trial in Italy involving senior former and current executives at both companies. More: Reuters

Zimbabwe has invited De Beers and Vast Resources to explore for diamonds in the country amid an economic crisis and stalling government efforts to boost investment in the post-Mugabe era. Neither company has commented on whether they intend to take up the offer. More: Reuters

The Daily Follow

@googleafrica: News and updated from Google in Africa.