Rabat: Why is the world suddenly courting Africa? Is this the start of a real strategic shift of interests? Does Africa hold the key to solving the developed world's economic and geo-economic problems and its troubles with supply?
These are some of the questions now being raised in meetings among major industrial and political players and African countries. The most recent summit was held in Washington in December and attended by 49 heads of state.
President Joe Biden used it to call for the African Union to become a permanent member of the G20 in a move to encourage trade and investments while also curbing Chinese influence and competing with Europe’s ties with the region.
President Muhammadu Buhari alongside President Joe Biden of the United States, Prime Minister Akhannouch of Morocco and other leaders while watching tonight’s World Cup semifinal match in Washington DC. pic.twitter.com/3YWWbLeNsr— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) December 14, 2022
The US president watched the World Cup semi-final between France and Morocco with Nigerian President Mahamadou Buhari and Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch at the White House.
He seemed ecstatic as the Arab team did well. The scene looked like more than just a signal the US was supporting the Arab team on the pitch.
It implied backing for the economic partnership between Nigeria and Morocco and suggested an intention to reduce dependence on traditional colonial players, such as France and other western European countries, and to a lesser extent, new ones including Russia, China, Japan, Turkey, Brazil, and India.
This time around, economic talk comes before politics, as Washington intends to pump $55 billion into projects and investments in the continent over the next three years. So, what does Africa have that other continents lack?
Rich natural resources and young population
The continent covers over 30 million square kilometres set almost exactly midway between the global east and the global west and amounts to 20% of the world's habitable landmass. With a massive coastline of 41,184 km, it is rich in fish and aquatic life and a great asset to global maritime trade. It has deposits of 60 different minerals, most of which are unexploited, and holds more than a third of the world's undeclared raw material reserves.
According the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Africa possesses 12% of the world's oil and gas reserves, 40% of its gold, 65% of its diamond production, and more than 70% of its phosphates. It also holds 90% of global platinum and chromium reserves, 60% of cobalt, and more than 80% of coltan.