GZERO Media logo

A Hot Week In Africa Diplomacy

A Hot Week In Africa Diplomacy

Africa is hot these days – diplomatically speaking. UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are both hitting the road with multi-country visits to the continent this week, and next week Chinese President Xi Jinping will preside over a yearly China-Africa forum that brings representative from 53 of 54 African nations (all but Swaziland) to Beijing.


And why not? Africa is set to be the fastest growing region in the world economically over the coming decades. But the approaches of the UK, Germany, and China in the region also reveal interesting details about their broader global concerns and who, ultimately, is poised to prevail.

The UK, Going Global, Alone: On Tuesday, Theresa May arrived in South Africa for her first ever trip to the continent as prime minister. The purpose of the visit, which will also see her stop in Nigeria and Kenya (where no British prime minister has made an official visit in 30 years) is to solidify British commercial ties in Africa as part of a broader post-Brexit “Global Britain” plan. In a word, the UK is looking for new friends, economically. Skeptics back home have pointed out that collectively the economies of May’s three stops are smaller than the Netherlands. Others snickered at her awful, if not somewhat courageous, dancing. All in all, it’s hard to see Africa making a big dent in Britain’s post-Brexit economic blues.

Germany, Looking for a Quick Fix: Meanwhile, German Chancellor Merkel starts her own three-day visit to the continent today, with will include stops in Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana. Merkel’s main aim is to negotiate the return of some of the 14,000 migrants from these three countries that currently reside in Germany without approval. Merkel, once the EU’s standard bearer in promoting development and investment to deal with the drivers of mass migration from Africa, has been forced onto the back foot by political forces in Germany and the EU. She’s now looking for quick fix to a long-term challenge.

China, A Grand Strategy: Then there is President Xi. Fresh off a trip to Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, and Mauritius last month, the Chinese leader is now preparing for the opening of the annual Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing next week. In recent years, Chinese trade with region has ballooned—hitting $170 billion last year, four times larger than that between the US and Africa. Initially reliant on Africa for commodities exports, China has since expanded its investments into sectors such as construction and telecommunications. Despite some recent pushback, it has built ports, laid down miles of new railways, and established a bigger military foothold.

As Africa’s global economic and strategic footprint continue to grow, more countries will be eager to court new opportunities there. Beyond their choice of international partners, African leaders have plenty of domestic priorities to worry about – including elections next year in Nigeria and South Africa. The latest diplomatic flurry suggest that China, with its steady hand and long-term thinking, will continue to overshadow other contenders across the continent.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

More Show less

Does Cuba belong back on the US's State Sponsors of Terrorism list? The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board showed their support for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's decision on this issue in a recent opinion piece, "Cuba's Support for Terror." But in this edition of The Red Pen, Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analysts Risa Grais-Targow, Jeffrey Wright and Regina Argenzio argue that the WSJ's op-ed goes too far.

We are now just a few days away from the official end of Donald Trump's presidency, but the impacts of his latest moves in office will obviously last far beyond Joe Biden's inauguration. There's the deep structural political polarization, the ongoing investigations into the violence we saw at the Capitol, lord knows what happens over the next few days, there's also last-minute policy decisions here and abroad. And that's where we're taking our Red Pen this week, specifically US relations with Cuba.

More Show less

Watch Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, lend perspective to this week's historic impeachment proceedings.

Impeachment. President Trump became the first president ever to be impeached twice this week. And the question on everybody's mind is will he be convicted in the Senate? And I think the answer right now is we just don't know. I'd probably bet against it. There was a really strong Republican vote against impeaching him in the House, with only 10 of the over 100 Republicans breaking with the President and voting to impeach him. And the question now is in the Senate, is there more support for a conviction? Senate Majority Leader McConnell has indicated he's at least open to it and wants to hear some of the facts. And I expect you're going to hear a lot of other Republicans make the same statement, at least until the trial begins.

More Show less

They call it Einstein. It's the multibillion-dollar digital defense system the US has used to catch outside hackers and attackers since 2003. But it was no match for what's looking like one of the biggest cyber breaches in US history. Ian Bremmer breaks it down.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Cyber attack: an act of espionage or war?

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal

Will the Senate vote to convict Trump?

US Politics