America has always had an interest in the African continent. From military initiatives to humanitarian efforts, they have been able to gain a foothold throughout the continent. However over the past few decades other global powers have been using the same methods that the Americans have used to establish themselves within the continent.
China has been a major player by providing loans and aiding in the building of infrastructure throughout different countries within the continent. China’s endeavours into Africa have caught the eye of the Americans as they realise that they are not the only nation that has a vested interest in the continent. But now the Russians are slowly making their mark in the continent and this is concerning to the Americans because the two global powers that they feel threatened by are making their mark on a territory once dominated by them.
Russia’s trading with Africa over the recent years has been one sure sign of how they are trying to establish themselves on the continent as trade efforts have more than doubled in less than a decade. Russia’s trade with Africa increased from $5.7 billion in 2009 to $17.4 billion in 2017. The Russians have also been aggressively promoting nuclear infrastructure and technology partnerships as well as oil and gas investments there.
Russia has also been exporting culture as certain radio stations in Central African Republic not only offer news programs in French, the nation’s official language and local African music but also offer lessons in Russian. The station owner allow this with the hope of strengthening ties between the two nations. The Russkiy Mir Foundation, which is a nongovernmental and non-profit organization responsible for the education and promotion Russian culture is the engine driving Russian culture in Africa.
Russia has also beefed up their military presence on the continent through arms sales, security agreements, and military training programs. For instance, in the Central African Republic where the Russians are really trying to make their mark they have sent mercenaries to help with local military initiatives. All this is in hopes that Russians will gain exploration rights from the local government to have access to the land in order to extract any resources that they may find. Some of the men who have been in CAR as mercenaries have made excursions that are not a part of their scheduled trip to areas where they believe are abundant in resources, employing young children to look for thing such as diamonds and gold.
With all this newfound interest that the Russians have in Africa one must ask how the local countries in which Russia has relations with will benefit. Africa has seen outside entities come in to act as aggressors more that allies, leaving the people and the nations in worse conditions when supposed allies leave. The US military established Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008 with the intention of aiding local military with internal conflicts. But since this initiative has been active on the continent violence has increased drastically. Drone strikes have risen and the number of commandos deployed has increased along with the size and scope of AFRICOM’s constellation of bases. The initial intention of this program was to help lessen the war like conditions on the continent, but the opposite has happened.
With three of the world’s most well-known super powers vying for supremacy over a region that does not belong to them, it puts Africa on edge once again. She is a set of pawns on a chessboard with kings and queens who are willing to gain control without truly considering the people of the lands that they want to occupy.
Featured image | Putin | Carmen Rodriguez | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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