China became more invasive
China, which has become the continent’s leading trading partner, multiplied the movements of its emissaries in almost all African countries between 2010 and 2019. China’s relations with Africa have stood out above all by its principle of non-interference in the political affairs of African states, and its involvement in the financing of major projects such as the construction of roads, hydroelectric dams, railways, bridges, hospitals and schools. Its dynamism towards Africa was reaffirmed at the forum on Sino-African Cooperation organized in 2018 in Beijing, the 7th of its kind. During this meeting, China promised to intensify economic development aid to African countries by devoting an additional 60 billion dollars to them. Beijing also ensured the cancellation of part of the debt maturing in some countries on the continent, particularly landlocked and less developed countries.
The United States on a mission to re-conquer Africa
Aware of the implications of Chinese influence in Africa, the United States under Trump’s leadership also tried to rekindle its relations with Africa during the end of the decade. To fix his image among his African peers who had taken the “shithole country” scandal badly, Trump sent Rex Tillerson, head of the American diplomacy, Tibor Nagy the assistant secretary for African affairs of the USA, his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and his wife Melania Trump on a tour to the continent. While the first two focused their visits on the promotion of good governance, security and economic issues, the other two emphasized the humanitarian aspect. However, long before Donald Trump came to power, Barack Obama had made efforts to renew relations between the United States and Africa. In August 2014, Obama invited about fifty African leaders to Washington for an unprecedented U.S.-Africa summit, to strengthen the partnership between the two blocs in terms of trade and investment. Above all, the initiative aimed at catching up with the United States in terms of trade with China and Europe. During the summit, the United States pledged to disburse $30 billion for public aid and private investment in Africa. In addition to the promise to intensify the electrification of sub-Saharan Africa through the Power Africa program, the summit also led to the renewal of the free trade agreement between Africa and the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiated in 2000 under President Bill Clinton but which was due to expire in 2015.
Russia, became a new partner
Russia, who did not want to sit back and watch from a distance, showed interest in strengthening her relations with Africa, which began at the time of the Soviet Union but cooled down after the Cold War. Moscow has multiplied its initiatives as evidenced by the tour carried out by Serguei Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs in March 2018, to five sub-Saharan African countries rich in hydrocarbons and mining resources and then in January 2019 to the Maghreb region. The support on the security level of the Central African Republic, the military agreements signed with countries such as Cameroon and the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, are all elements that illustrate this new trend in Russian-African relations. In order to better establish itself in Africa, a continent undermined by terrorism and armed conflicts, Russia decided to put forward its expertise in the field of security and armament. Its first summit with Africa allowed it to sign numerous military and defence partnership agreements with countries facing the threat of terrorism, to find markets for its nuclear industry, the exploitation of raw materials and to surf on other areas such as the future of Russian-African trade.
Turkey’s growing interest
Erdogan’s Turkey was not indifferent to the growth prospects of the African continent and had also shown a growing interest in the continent over the last ten years. While the American and Russian presidents have so far refrained from travelling to Africa, preferring to send emissaries, Tayip Recep Erdogan personally visited the black continent accompanied by Turkish businessmen and industrialists. Between 2003 and 2017, trade between Africa and Turkey increased by 21%. The country, which has become a master of the continent in the terms of construction and public works, has also expanded its air network thanks to its Turkish Airlines company, which flies to nearly 50 African cities. Under the leadership of Erdogan, a Turkey-Africa summit on agriculture was organized in November 2018 in Istanbul.
Germany for cooperation on an equal footing
Angela Merkel’s Germany is also committed to revitalizing its relations with the African continent with which it shares a colonial past. Through the politico-economic initiative Compact with Africa, launched in 2017 by the German Chancellor, Berlin to encourage trade with Africa invites the German private sector companies to turn the black continent into an investment sector. The event, which was held for the third time on the 19 and 20 November 2019 in Berlin, enabled heads of state from 11 African countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia) to take part in exchanges with international financial institutions, German authorities and companies. Through the Compact with Africa program, Berlin also supports the desire to enter into a type of partnership with the African continent that should benefit both parties legally.
The birth of South Sudan
In July 2011, the African continent saw the birth of a new state, South Sudan. With the arrival of this new-born on the Horn of Africa, the continent grew from 53 to 54 states. But after gaining independence, the youngest African nation is still plunged in civil war due to tribal and religious differences and especially a struggle for control of power and resources, especially oil. The rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar has caused the death of tens of thousands of people and massive displacement of the population to neighbouring countries. While it was feared that the security threat would come from the North, deprived of part of the oil resources after the cession of the South, it is unfortunately within the young state itself that the trouble which seems to condemn it to perpetual instability broke out, despite the many agreements signed between the various belligerents.
Death of Mandela and Mugabe
Over the past decade, the African continent has lost two emblematic figures in its history, Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe. Both men had the distinction of having fought during their lifetime against the racist white minority regimes in their respective countries. Madiba, who died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95, whose fight against apartheid made him one of the world icons of the 20th century, received a shower of tributes from influential personalities from all over the world, as evidenced by the participation of some 100 heads of state and government and a dozen former presidents at the official farewell ceremony held at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on 10 December 2013.
Robert Mugabé died on 6 September 2019 at the age of 95. He did not receive the same recognition as Nelson Mandela from Western leaders who reproached him for his thirty years of authoritarian rule over the former Southern Rhodesia. China and Russia have nevertheless deviated from this rule. The head of the Kremlin Vladimir Putin stressed that “many important dates in the modern history of Zimbabwe are linked to the name of Robert Mugabe” while on the side of Chinese diplomacy, one greeted an “exceptional” leader who “firmly defended the sovereignty of his country and actively promoted friendship between China and Africa”. Ignored by the West, the memory of Mugabe, one of the last figures of decolonisation in Africa, has been hailed on the continent by many presidents and former leaders. His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, elevated him to the rank of “national hero”, a status he believes he greatly deserves.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup
South Africa helped to raise the profile of the entire continent by hosting the first FIFA World Cup tournament on the African soil in 2010. Thanks to the influence of its political heavyweights during the elections, including Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, De Klerk and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, the rainbow nation was chosen at the expense of Morocco and Egypt who were also running to enable Africa to organise this sporting event. Swiss FIFA President Sep Blatter was delighted with the immense success of the event and the turnover of 1.3 billion dollars (932 million euros).
“I am the happiest man because I can announce that the World Cup in South Africa was a huge financial success for everyone, for Africa, for South Africa (and) for FIFA,” said Blatter.
In 2018, the Kingdom of Morocco could have won the organization of the 2026 World Cup, but the lack of solidarity of African federations towards its candidacy benefited the USA-Canada-Mexico trio. The last decade has also seen sporting events such as the first 24-team Africa Cup of Nations organised in 2019 by Egypt and the accession in 2015 of Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou as head of FIFA following the resignation of Sepp Blatter, who is mired with Michel Platini in corruption scandals.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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