America’s economic existential struggle in Africa

Shahid Bolsen
4 min readApr 25, 2023

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It is quickly becoming apparent that America and the West are interested in using the conflict in Sudan as an opportunity to potentially plunge not only Sudan, but the entire region into turmoil. I regret that I have not talked about Africa enough in the past, in the context of the shifting global order, and I had every intention to focus on it more in the near future; but it seems events have gotten ahead of me. So, I expect to be talking a lot more about Africa these days.

Last week, I believe, I made a video about leverage and bet-hedging in international relations, and I posited that the UAE and Saudi Arabia were making a bid at a hostile takeover in Sudan by backing the RSF to overthrow the government. They used their leverage with the West, with Russia and China, to have them essentially co-sign the coup attempt, but that America was hedging their bet by reserving the strategic option of escalating the conflict if the coup did not go smoothly. Well, the coup did not go smoothly, and America and the West seem to be activating that hedge. The US wants to secure their interests in Sudan, but chief among those interests is to negate Russian and Chinese interests in Sudan, and they are now basically threatening to use the Sudan conflict as a contagion that could undermine Russian and Chinese interests across Africa. This was always the risk for the UAE and Saudi Arabia if the coup did not go to plan; and it seems the worst has come to pass.

Let’s be blunt, the future of the global economy turns on Africa. There are 17 minerals that are indispensable to the manufacturing of smartphones, electric vehicles, military weapons systems, and countless other advanced technologies. These are what are referred to as Rare Earths Elements, and they are basically the essential nutrients of global industry. Currently, China has monopolised production and refinement of these minerals, and completely dominates the supply chain that feeds these nutrients to the world. But Africa possesses large, high-grade deposits of rare earth metals, and that makes the continent ground zero for America’s economic existential battle with China.

Since past behaviour is generally the best predictor of future behaviour, we have every reason to believe that the United States will resort to subversion and violence without hesitation to secure access and control over these resources. China has been cultivating connections and relationships with African countries, securing mining contracts, and gaining access to African resources since the 1980s; but economic policy in the US is largely driven by corporate decision-making that literally focuses on one fiscal quarter at a time. So, America is playing catch-up in Africa, and whenever that is the case, they cheat. Having guns means you can afford not to plan ahead, or anyway, that has typically been the US philosophy on international relations. When they are far behind, they will just shoot the frontrunner to win the race.

So, I have been expecting that the West would pursue violent destabilisation in Africa, which is not in any way a particularly bold prediction. And this is partly why I have also advocated for greater Global South partnerships with Africa, particularly between African countries and the countries of Southeast Asia like Indonesia and Malaysia; and between Africa and the Gulf States; not just with China and Russia. Because, if you want to protect yourself from the Americans, you need some friends whom the Americans do not regard as enemies; some friends standing between you and the Americans, whom the Americans care about not destroying.

Now, if you follow my channel then you will know that when I talk about America I am really talking about the owners and controllers of global financialised capital using the state power of America to pursue their interests. They are anational, and are not concerned with America’s vital interests, so no, this isn’t actually about American control of African resources, it is about OCGFC control which can be secured by US power. Technically, they would not normally care who has control of the resources, because they can still dominate most governments, but with Russia and China, the state has too much control over business, so they prefer US dominance. The only potential spoiler I can think of, is for a multiplicity of other countries to enter the dynamic; smaller countries, yes, but countries whom the OCGFC want to remain intact, countries where the governments are business-friendly, investment-friendly, but which retain a degree of economic and political sovereignty.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — despite the debacle the Emirates has apparently created in Sudan — will continue to be absolutely crucial players to help Africa stave off violent Western domination. But also, of course, African nations like South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and the DRC; who are mineral-rich, have the potential of helping resolve conflicts — including in Sudan — through economic diplomacy; but even still, they will need the solidarity and support of other nations across the Global South, and the Gulf States, in my opinion, to increase their leverage.

The continent of Africa is entering what will possibly be one of the most dangerous periods in recent history, but which could also be the most liberatory moment Africa has ever seen. Everyone in the Global South needs each other, from Latin America, to Africa, to Asia, no one can afford to stand alone, and no one can afford to think that conflicts in Latin America, Africa, or Asia, do not have consequences for their own countries.

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