Africa Policy Outlook 2006

An interesting read from 9 March 2006.

In 2006, Africa will witness a new wave of U.S. soldiers landing on the continent for training and other missions, as Washington takes aim at reshaping Africa to better serve America’s security interests. The trend in the Bush Administration’s Africa policy is toward an even greater focus on the so-called War on Terrorism, with emphasis on intelligence gathering, securing "ungoverned spaces" on the vast continent, and pre-positioning soldiers and equipment to project force globally and to deter Al-Qaeda in Africa. But American involvement in actual peacemaking or peacekeeping missions in Africa is far less likely, even as genocide continues in Darfur, Sudan.

The same Africa policy is equally intended to secure access to West African oil, which the Bush Administration now views as a strategic national interest. Imports of African oil are projected to grow from their current 15% of the U.S. total to 25% by 2015. The U.S. already imports more oil from Africa than Saudi Arabia, and within a decade it could become a greater source of oil imports than the whole of the Persian Gulf.

This year, when it comes to U.S. relations with Africa, the pre-occupation of U.S. officials with oil and guns will stand in stark contrast to the expressed concern of the American people regarding the ongoing genocide in Darfur and global health challenges like HIV/AIDS and the bird flu. The Bush Administration’s policy also fails to address Africans’ own concerns with human development, still an urgent priority despite last year’s proclaimed Africa focus.

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