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New wooing season for Africa begins

Sunday January 26 2020


Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre) gestures as he takes a family photo with leaders of African countries attending the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in Sochi, on October 24, 2019. PHOTO | SERGEI CHIRIKOV | AFP 

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Hot on the heels of the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the season of Africa-wooing has kicked off in earnest.

The WEF took place from January 21 to 24 and was expected to focus on how capitalism can end problems bedevilling the planet.

The meeting opened just a day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted African leaders in London on January 20.

The meeting saw Johnson declaring his desire to strengthen ties and increase business with Africa.

UK International Development Secretary Alok Sharma was reported to be optimistic regarding Britain’s relations with Africa.

According to Sharma, the ties would soon be “turbo-charged”, with business and investment deals being struck.


But even before Johnson took power, the UK had showed renewed interest in Africa.

Last year, his predecessor Theresa May made a visit to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.


Even as May was struggling to hold onto power, she was quick to describe her African jaunt as “a unique opportunity at a unique moment”.

Under President Emmanuel Macron, France has been seeking to strengthen ties with its former colonies, while also improving relations with Africa’s biggest economies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has become a frequent visitor to the continent, even as other nations like Russia and China make a beeline to the growing African market.

In October, President Vladimir Putin hosted the first ever Russia-Africa summit in Sochi.

China has for years been focusing ever more intently on the continent, with the country’s leaders making a staggering 80 visits to 40 African countries over the past decade.

Other nations like India, the Arabian Gulf states and Turkey have also showed interest in Africa.


According to the International Monetary Fund, in the years to 2023 Africa’s growth prospects would be among the best in the world.

Analysts say this is partly due to the fact that much of the continent has embraced global trade opportunities even as industrialised countries adopt protectionism.

Economically, Africa is coming of age, boasting an increasing number of key emerging markets and housing some of the world’s fastest growing countries.

Among them are the odd mix of Ethiopia, Côte D’Ivoire, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda.