The Emergence of a New Cold War: Power Struggle in Africa

In an increasingly volatile global climate, Africa has become the latest stage for a power struggle between the United States, Russia, and China. As Bloomberg reports, this contest for influence evokes echoes of a new cold war.

US Vice President’s African Tour

Kamala Harris, the US Vice President, is set to embark on an African journey, visiting Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia. Amidst the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and heightening US-China tensions, this tour aims to bolster American presence on the mineral-rich continent. Nevertheless, many African nations have chosen neutrality.

War in Ukraine: A Test for African Loyalties

US officials have urged African leaders to support Kyiv, although some nations maintain strong ties with Russia, including arms deals. The struggle for alliances continues.

Economic Rivalry with China: A US Dilemma

The United States, wary of economic competition with China—Africa’s principal trading partner—anticipates trade volumes exceeding $260 billion this year. Both nations vie for essential minerals vital to clean energy.

China’s Debt Diplomacy: A Double-edged Sword

China’s lending practices in Africa have facilitated development and infrastructure growth. Yet, US authorities highlight the burdensome debt repayment and high costs borne by borrowers.

The Great Debt Relief Debate

The US and its allies have recently criticized China’s reluctance to provide debt relief to some of the poorest countries. As the world’s largest creditor to developing nations, China hesitates to set a precedent, thereby reducing its loans directly.

A Global Scramble for Influence

India, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia join the fray, seeking to expand their influence across the African continent.

Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ African program, acknowledges that US officials don’t explicitly admit to competing with China or Russia in Africa. However, he asserts that the visits emphasize the stark contrasts between Washington’s approach and those of its adversaries.

Democracy and Stability: US Priorities

The US pledges $165 million to support fair elections in Africa, promoting democratic values in the region. Meanwhile, it warns of the destabilizing influence of Russia’s Wagner Group, a private military company operating in countries like Mali and the Central African Republic.