Leaders and officials from Russia, France and the United States are vying for influence over the 1.3 billion people living within the African Union’s 55 member-states.
By Abayomi Azikiwe, August 1, 2022
Several geopolitical powers are seeking to enhance their influence and cooperation with the continent of Africa.
United States President Joe Biden announced during July that he would host a summit with African leaders at the White House in December.
This announcement by Biden comes in the aftermath of several important political developments which have exposed the ineffective foreign policy orientation of the world’s leading capitalist country. Within the United Nations, many African states abstained from two resolutions pushed by the U.S. which condemned the Russian Federation during the early phase of Moscow’s special military operation in neighboring Ukraine.
In addition, most African governments have not made pronouncements in favor of the war program of the U.S. Compounding these complicated relationships is the reliance by several African Union (AU) states on Russian and Ukrainian agricultural products and inputs. The imposition of unprecedented sanctions against Russia by the Biden administration and the European Union (EU) has hampered the flow of goods and services.
The two leading officials of the AU, President Macky Sall of Senegal, who is the chair of the continental organization and Commissioner Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, traveled to Sochi in June to hold high-level discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The AU statement issued in the aftermath of the meeting reiterated the position of the organization that the conflict in Ukraine should be resolved diplomatically through negotiations. This is a position at variance with the Biden presidency which has openly declared that the administration wants to remove Putin from power and weaken Russia as a world power.
Also, the talks between Putin and the AU resulted in the reconvening of the Russia-Africa Summit which will meet towards the end of the year in Ethiopia. In fact, during late July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov embarked upon a tour to several African countries including Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in a press conference with Lavrov that the enemies of the U.S. were not the adversaries of his government. He noted that Uganda wants to trade with the U.S., Russia and any other country which respects its independence and sovereignty.