For the past eight years Africa has been relegated to the back burner of US foreign policy.
Enter President Trump: bombastic and volatile, with neither affinity nor proximity to Africa, but a brazen sense of unpredictability. Because Trump favors protectionism, the argument goes, he will turn his back on Africa and will happily don Obama’s mantle to continue Washington’s minimalist involvement in African affairs.
Trump, however, might just do the opposite and, just as George W. Bush, surprise many critics by implementing sensible policies vis-à-vis Africa.
Why would Trump care about Africa? The answer is simple: China. If Trump is serious about China, as he has ostensibly touted on the campaign trail and via twitter, if he is determined to flex his muscles against China, he should first challenge the rising power of the Red Dragon in Africa. That’s because Africa has served as China’s economic launching pad for over two decades. Africa has fueled and will continue to fuel China’s booming industries for several decades to come. With the US economic presence in Africa receding, China has occupied the void and driven competition out, including many European companies and investors.
Plus Islamic terror groups, including Al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda operate cell groups in Africa’s rogue states. They are after American soft targets and it’s just a matter of time, if the trend is not reversed, until we see the kind of acts that targeted American interests in Nairobi and Benghazi.
Trump might prove his critics wrong by dealing differently with Africa and restoring America’s clout on a continent that cannot afford to put its eggs in the same basket and should not let China’s monopolistic drive dictate the terms and pace of its development.