To approach Africa in a general way would be incorrect. Indeed, 55 states share a territory of 30 million km² on two hemispheres. Climate, culture and history of each country are therefore very different. Although its environment could be considered as inhospitable in a health or climatic point of view. Africa remains very attractive to many nations: European countries, China, Russia and Turkey. After slavery and a colonial period, exploitation of natural resources is still the main focus of the continent.
A continent full of resources.
Africa owns 30% of the world’s mineral reserves: 75% of platinum reserves, 50% of diamond and chromium reserves, 20% of gold and uranium reserves, 85% of phosphate reserves, over 50% of cobalt reserves, 33% of bauxite reserves. Africa possesses also coal, copper, iron ore reserves as well as 10% of the world’s oil reserves and 8% of natural gas reserves.
Raw materials represent 60% of Africa’s exports. Unfortunately Africa is not able to export correctly its wealth. Indeed, the absence of investment and skilled labor do not allowed Africa to make the most of its soil’s wealth. Investment would be essential for African countries’ development.
Growth in the tertiary sector.
As agriculture sector, manufacturing activities have declined to benefit the service activities. While the African continent is characterized by its abundance of resources, services currently represent more than 50% of the GDP. Tertiary sector include natural resources’ exportation and telecommunications. Between 1990 and 2013 telecommunications have been attracted 74% of private investment. Most recently, tourism sector has developed particularly strongly. South Africa and North Africa countries are the most attractive. At last, the number of foreign tourists has doubled in 10 years.
Interests for the African continent
Since the beginning of the 21st century, new players such as China and India have started to position on natural resources’ exploitation. Logistical infrastructures are precondition to exploit resources. This is the reason why China’s Exim Bank has lent funds to Ethiopia in order to rebuild a railway line. During the past 20 years China has built more than 6,000 km of railways and 20 ports in Africa. As China did Turkey shows great interest for African continent. In 20 years, Turkey has increased its importation, multiplying by four its imports and by 20 its exports. Turkey mainly imports hydrocarbons (oil and LNG). Turkey has also mainly invested in infrastructure development, construction and energy in North Africa. At the present time, Turkey is developing its presence and its influence in West Africa and in the Horn of Africa.
A growing interest for the defense sector.
In 2021, the amount of arms expenditure on the African continent comes to 60 billion dollars. Already settled in Djibouti, China currently develops its arms exports on the African continent. Indeed, China is the 3rd largest exporter behind the United States and Russia; in the sub-Saharan region, China holds the second place, just behind Russia. Regarding Turkey, the country performs 0.5% of sales on the continent. However, since 2021, Turkey increased in a significant way its exports. This growth is due to the attractiveness of the Bayraktar TB2 UAVs. This equipment could be use very easily, do not need specialized maintenance and have already proved their worth on the field. Turkey has a military presence in Somalia, Ethiopia and Libya which contributes to increase its influence in Africa. In addition, Turkey has also an important footprint in education and humanitarian field.
The solvency issue.
When it comes to trade, African countries solvency is a central issue. While Africa is less indebted than developed Western countries, its debt remains under scrutiny. Africa is willing to see the emergence of a continental rating agency. Nevertheless, experts suggest an intermediate solution which would consist of gathering and disseminating data in order to obtain an assessment much more fair (Moody’s and Standard & Poors are the biggest rating agencies. They assess a country’s capacity to borrow). Finally, as long as countries will be dependent on mineral resources they will continue to develop influence on the continent.
Africa’s development is closely related to emerging countries’ interests. From now on hegemony of European countries in Africa is over. From “slave trade” to colonization, by now Africa is subject to modern colonialism from China, Russia and Turkey. Will the “African ambitions” of those countries be for the benefit of the people of Africa?