Africa emerges as new theatre for China-Russia rivalry to play out
African countries are becoming the new theatre for the rivalry between China and Russia to play itself out, said a report, adding that although China still has a strong presence in African nations, the latter still rely on Russia for military assistance, despite the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.
The Geopolitik reported that the Russia-Africa Summit 2019 produced contracts to supply military armaments and equipment to more than thirty African countries. Businesses, including state-backed commercial interests, have invested heavily in security sectors, technology and industries that extract natural resources such as oil, gas, gold and other minerals.
A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Russia has supplied 44 per cent of arms imports to African nations in between 2017 and 2021. The report further says that many West African leaders are standing because of support from mercenaries of the Wanger Group, a private Russian security company, and many other African countries rely on Russia for much of their fertilizer imports. All this has been helping in building the economic and military ties between Russia and the African nations, according to Geopolitik.
To counter this, China has made focused efforts to establish its military presence in the African nations, especially trying to enter the arms market of the continent. According to Geopolitik, Nigeria is the latest beneficiary of Chinese military help. The Nigerian Navy, this October, received a patrol boat and some other military equipment from China to combat maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea.
China Harbour Engineering has also constructed the Lekki Deep Sea Port, one of the biggest ports in West Africa designed to handle 1.2 million containers a year. It is meant to serve as a new marine logistics centre for the whole region, opening another wave of investment opportunities between China and Africa.
Defence aid has been provided to Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea while policing equipment has been received by countries, including the Central African Republic and Namibia. So key infrastructure, including oil and gas, railways and airports are already in the hands of the Chinese and that is why it is not difficult for China to enter the African military market, according to the Geopolitik.
This newfound Chinese interest in the African countries is also meant to counter and challenge the United States’ supremacy in the area. The US already has 29 known military facilities in 15 fifteen countries while China has just established its first military base in Africa in Djibouti, which is operated by the People’s Liberation Army. (ANI)