Africa’s riches trigger new strategic scramble

Soldiers parade during the closing ceremony of a joint military exercise between African, US and European troops, known as Flintlock, last year in Saint Louis, United States. (AFP)


2017/10/22 Issue: 128 Page: 11


The Arab Weekly
Ed Blanche



Beirut- Africa has been battered by war and instability for decades, a situa­tion that seriously impeded its economic and political development.

However, it remains strategic — witness the formation of the US Africa Command, or Africom — because it contains approximate­ly 30% of the planet’s mineral re­sources, including oil and gas as well as uranium, cobalt, coltan, gold and copper.

The semi-arid Sahel, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, is a key region in this quest for vital resources, the same imperative that led to the scramble for Africa in the 19th century by Europe’s imperial powers.

“Whoever controls Mali, con­trols West Africa, if not the whole of Africa,” observed Doulaye Ko­nate of the Association of African Historians. “That’s why this re­gion has become so coveted.”

Investment in African oil and gas alone is expected to reach $2 trillion over the next two decades.

US intervention in Africa was not just an extension of Ameri­ca’s war against global terrorism, it was to consolidate US interests in the continent.

Arab North Africa, particularly Algeria, Egypt and Libya, plus Nigeria, contain 91.5% of Africa’s proven oil reserves, estimated at 117.2 billion barrels, nearly 10% of the world total. There are large deposits in Tanzania, Uganda and Western Ghana, with potentially large reservoirs in South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Developing such resources de­pends on stability and that seems to be a distant prospect, with indications that the terrorism threat is growing.

Africa, a proxy battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, looks like it is becoming the venue for intense economic ri­valry between Washington and Moscow.

The prospects of an economic boom are endangered by the deep-rooted culture of corrup­tion and human rights abuses by Africa’s ruling elites that foster terrorism and are likely to inten­sify once oil revenues start to flow.


Ed Blanche has covered Middle East affairs since 1967. He is the Arab Weekly analyses section editor.


As Printed
MENA Now
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Regular Columnists

Claude Salhani

Yavuz Baydar

Correspondents

Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi

Designers

Ibrahim Ben Bechir

Hanen Jebali

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

www.alarab.co.uk

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved