Editor’s Note: February 11, 2019
Washington needs a better Africa policy
Russia is using arms sales and mercenaries to access natural resources in Africa. This was the message to American lawmakers last week by the head of the US Africa command, general Thomas Waldhauser.
His warning is part of the Trump administration’s new Africa policy, a cold war style doctrine aimed at competing with China and Russia.
It has also largely been ignored.
This encapsulates Washington’s struggle for relevance. The US is trying to make up ground, having been slow to respond to rising investment from the likes of Beijing over the last decade.
While it was the top investor economy in Africa by FDI stock in 2017, much of this is legacy. Trade is dominated by hydrocarbons and minerals, accounting for 66% of imports in 2017. American businesses – hamstrung by a lack of support from Washington – are having a hard time competing with China, which now has an estimated 10,000 companies active on the continent.
The administration’s regressive policy, emphasizing ‘great power’ competition, won’t change this. While geopolitics will always be a factor, Beijing and Moscow are part of a long list of countries vying for commercial advantage on the continent.
Like Waldhauser’s scaremongering on Russia, the cold war mentality driving Washington’s Africa policy will fall on deaf ears.
From The Continent
Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Sunday took over as chair of the African Union for 2019 during the organization’s annual summit taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.This comes amid efforts by Cairo to promote more Egyptian investment into sub-Saharan Africa. More: Al Jazeera
Nigeria has reportedly signed a $30bn export financing deal with a group of investors including the African Export-Import Bank and the African Development Bank. The ‘Made in Nigeria for Exports’ project is part of government efforts to diversify the country’s oil-dependent economy. More: Bloomberg
The Daily Stat
The value of a planned dry port project outside Cairo, Egypt - part of growing investment into ports infrastructure on the continent. More: Reuters
The Global Perspective
E-commerce startup Jumia is planning an initial public offering in New York this year, which could value the company at around $1.5bn. Jumia is part of a wave of e-commerce startups on the continent that have attracted large-scale funding in recent years. More: TechCentral
The African Development Bank has warned that trade tensions between the US and China could cost Africa 0.7% of its GDP in 2019. The most affected sectors are thought to be commodities like minerals, as well as food-related products and other tradeables. More: Business Day