Finally the world has an idea of what the United States' African policy is and it is probably less about Africa than it is about China. The global turf is clearly getting smaller and big powers are trying to wrestle as much influence as they can. China has flexed its muscles in Africa in the last decade helping to close the infrastructural gap in the continent. The country has financed big projects and is helping develop African manpower. In 2009, Chinese trade surpassed American trade in the region. Predictably, the United States of America is not too happy about China's moves.
Speaking on the eve of his African "listening tour", American Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said, "Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries. When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic political stability.”
In Ethiopia, he repeated the same message saying, "We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa. It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements (with China) and not forfeit their sovereignty."
China has, however, shot back with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying at the National People's Congress in Beijing, "Africa's concerns are China's concerns. Africa's priorities are China's priorities."
Abebe Aynete, a senior researcher with Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institute also argued that Tillerson's statements were detached from reality further stating, "The statement from Tillerson comes from the fact (that) the United States fears that it has lost its influence on Africa to China."
This squabbling about Africa is not even about Africa. It is about power. It is a turf war.