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Why U.S. is worried about Russia, China presence in Africa

Africa for centuries has been a place where the world’s super powers like to deepen their presence hoping to secure some of it’s territories and resources.

That led to slavery and colonization and their impact have been devastating for years and do not seem to have ended just yet.

Since the beginning of the 20th century when most African countries started fighting for their independence from colonial rule, there has been a shift in how super powers like Europe, America, China and Russia engage Africa.

There have been efforts to deepen their presence on the continent in the areas of trade, aid and military cooperations.

For years Europe and America have taken that lead but in recent years that has been shifting with African countries welcoming Russia and China in a rapid way.

The fight for Africa

The United States Africa Command which is responsible for U.S. military operations, including fighting regional conflicts and maintaining military relations with African nations is concerned about the presence of Russia and China in Africa.

Africa Command Director of Public Affairs Col. Chris Karns in an interview with Voice of America (VOA) said America continues to compete with Russia and China on the continent.

He said Russia and China are now Africa’s top arms exporters, something that worries America.

“That is something that should concern Americans,” he told VOA.

“If we do not continue to develop partnerships on the African continent and China and Russia continue on their growth trajectory, they could exercise the influence to deny us access to key areas in the future.”

Why America is worried

But Karns makes a case that Russia and China aren’t prepared to do the US Africa Command does in Africa to combat terrorism.

He said Russia and China “are really looking to try to partner, but the way they go about partnership is quite different from the U.S. in terms of our values-based approach to make sure that the African partners are growing, they’re developing.

The Russians are not interested in that. They’re simply looking at it from a business standpoint, very transactional. And we look at it from helping our partners, you know, achieve their future without taking it away from them like through mineral extraction and other means that the Russians have employed.”

Karns further said that “China has 1.5 million citizens on the African continent. So they are moving in in droves, and they have — similarly to the Russians — they have basically said that this continent is where they want to be seen as a great power.

The United States needs to be able to compete and win on the African continent or otherwise China and Russia will move into that space if the U.S. is not there.”

Analysts say Africa can only develop if it looks within itself for solutions rather than outside.


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