Tensions between the United States and China have deteriorated significantly in recent years amid bitter disputes over trade, technology and geopolitical competition around the world. Other countries are increasingly being drawn into this rivalry and either directly or indirectly forced to choose a side.
But in Africa, there’s growing resistance to the idea that countries have to be aligned with either the U.S. or China.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the issue during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. where he warned larger powers that Africa will not be anyone’s prize to win in a new great power rivalry.,
“Western countries, and their counterparts in Asia and the Middle East, are returned to competition over Africa, in some cases weaponizing divisions, pursuing proxy actions and behaving like Africa is for the taking.
“Well, I want to tell you it is not,” he said at the Atlantic Council think tank.
President Kenyatta’s sentiments are shared across the continent, particularly in West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia who all have deep historical ties with the United States but are also now important destinations for Chinese investment and infrastructure development.
But no other country in Africa is as important today as Nigeria. With the continent’s largest economy and largest population, Nigeria’s burgeoning domestic market is attracting record amounts of U.S. and Chinese investment — especially in the country’s booming tech sector.
So, Nigeria has a lot at stake in balancing ties with both the United States and China but doing so is not always easy. And that’s part of Tolu Ogunlesi does as a Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari for digital and new media issues. Tolu is also an accomplished journalist and influential international affairs commentator with more than half a million followers on Twitter.
Tolu joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the delicate balancing act that Nigeria and other African countries are having to do to maximize their countries’ national interests with both the U.S. and China.
- CNBC.com: The US-China trade rivalry is underway in Africa, and Washington is playing catch-up by Elliot Smith
- War on the Rocks: Africa: The First U.S. Casualty of the New Information Warfare Against China by Caleb Slayton
- Center for Strategic and International Studies: Innocent Bystanders: Why the U.S.-China Trade War Hurts African Economies by Judd Devermont
About Tolu Ogunlesi:
Tolu Ogunlesi is a Nigerian journalist, poet, photographer, fiction writer, and blogger. Ogunlesi was appointed to the role of Special Assistant on Digital/New Media by President Muhammadu Buhari on 18 February 2016. Ogunlesi was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Nigerian parents and has lived most of his life in Nigeria. He attended the International School Ibadan. He also holds a 2004 Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. In 2011, he earned an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, UK.