US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will begin his first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa today, arriving in Senegal before visiting Angola and Ethiopia.
The visit signifies Washington’s concerns regarding China’s expansion of economic influence into Africa. Beijing became Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009 and Chinese firms have invested billions into infrastructure projects. Angola and Ethiopia have each received over $20 billion since 2005.
However, relations with China can be tricky: African states are wary of debt trap-type investments for which China is infamous, and many local manufacturers are unable to compete with cheaper Chinese-made goods.
Mr Pompeo will try to convince rapidly growing markets like Ethiopia, currently undergoing a historic transition following a war with neighboring Eritrea, that the US is a more beneficial partner than Beijing. He will likely invoke the long-term stability of bilateral economic and security ties and stress the US’ commitment towards job creation for African youth.
If Pompeo successfully captures the interest of the African leaders, the trip may prompt the US to further encourage private sector investment into African development projects.
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William analyses global economic and political events for the Current Developments Team, focusing his research on Europe and the Middle East. He contributes regularly to the Daily Brief