Speaking during a BBC Newsday radio program yesterday, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Mrs. Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that she doesn’t believe there is a scramble for Africa. However, in reaction to her comments, many critics have expressed a different view and they argue that there is indeed a scramble for Africa among the conceptual West.
Following the conclusion of the United States–Africa Leaders’ Summit 2022 held in Washington, D.C., from December 13–15, 2022, hosted by President Joe Biden and had top Unites States delegates and American Business Executives; there have been many high-profile visits from across the globe to Africa.
While the United States was taking advantage of the Summit – which had 49 African leaders in attendance, to build on verbal agreements and signed contracts through implementations, China and Russia were trying to cement their existing relations and relevance.
Mrs. Linda Thomas-Greenfield herself has led high-profile delegations to Kenya, Nigeria, and The Gambia. Also, the United States Secretary of Treasury, Mrs. Janet Yellen, visited the African continent on the orders of the U.S. president after the 13 – 15 December 2023 events.
On the other hand, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, have also visited several African countries within one month after the United States–Africa Leaders’ Summit 2022.
Speaking on the BBC radio show in an interview with radio correspondent Anne Soy, explaining that she has spent most of her diplomatic career in Africa, Mrs. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “we have been on this continent for many decades.”
Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield said, who had just completed a tour of Africa, further added that “there are extraordinary opportunities on the continent.”
According to her, the United States does not see the constant visits to the continent and increased activities as its role to boss Africa around: “We are not telling African countries who they should be friends with,” Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield said.
African countries like South Africa have recently faced criticism for close relations with Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield also warned against the use of the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, in Africa, describing it as a criminal organisation.
“The kind of activities that they carried out in Mali – human rights violations including rapes of women; the kinds of attacks that they have carried out in the Central African Republic including targeting humanitarian workers and the UN, that is not an organisation that would bring, in my view, any value to the fight against terrorism.”
Wagner has been linked to African countries that are currently facing a surge of militant Islamists, such as in Mali, Mozambique, and other nations.
Many critics have frowned at the position of the United States ambassador, saying it is a ploy by the senior U.S. representative to distract the public from the current realities.
Last week, China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang kicked off a series of high-profile visits to Ethiopia, Egypt, Gabon, Angola, and Benin. Within the same week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen went to Senegal, Zambia, and South Africa. On Monday this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was in South Africa, Botswana, and Angola. He also announced his plans to return in February to visit Tunisia, Mauritania, Algeria, and Morocco. In the same vein, the director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, is on her way from Zambia to Rwanda.
Critics say these high-profile unsolicited visits spell a ‘scramble’. Do you agree?