Mohsin Abbas

The struggle for influence between China and the United States in Africa is crucial for these two major powers and the continent’s future. Both countries have a significant impact on African nations, and their policies and investments will have an enduring impact on the region.

In the past, the United States has played a prominent role in Africa, but its pull has recently decreased. On the other hand, China has expanded its influence in Africa by providing aid, investments, and infrastructure development. Nevertheless, there are concerns about how China engages with Africa, particularly its debt-trap diplomacy.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a significant project aimed at enhancing infrastructure in underdeveloped or developing nations worldwide, Africa included. Many African countries have been drawn to the initiative due to its investment and infrastructure development promise. China has been providing loans to these countries to sustain their economies. However, concerns have been raised regarding the possibility of these loans leading to debt-trap diplomacy, where African countries could become trapped in a cycle of debt to China.

China’s approach to Africa has been more inclusive than that of the US, which has been viewed as a superpower imposing its will on African countries without considering their interests. China has garnered significant support and approval from numerous African leaders and citizens by treating African countries as equal partners. Despite concerns about China’s debt-trap diplomacy, its promise of investment and infrastructure development through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative has attracted many African countries.

The United States needs to reevaluate its approach toward Africa to maintain its prominent position in the region. Investing in Africa’s technological, industrial, and infrastructure sectors could help the US regain its regional influence. Additionally, the US needs to establish an equal partnership with African countries, which includes consulting them when creating policies that affect the region.

With Africa’s vast potential, China and the US are interested in tapping into it. However, these two superpowers must strive to establish sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships with African countries. African countries must be strategic when engaging with China and the US to avoid getting caught up in a geopolitical struggle between the two superpowers.

Africa has always been a continent of interest to global superpowers due to its abundance of natural resources, strategic location, and potential for economic growth. Historically, the United States has maintained positive relations with African countries and has played a significant role in the region. However, the US’s role in Africa is gradually diminishing, and China is becoming a dominant player in the region.

One of the major reasons for the decline in US influence in Africa is its self-superior behavior towards the African Union. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the former ambassador of the African Union to the US, in an interview, expressed concern about the lack of understanding and knowledge about Africa among Americans, including policymakers in Congress, which suggests that there may be a need for more consultation and engagement between the US and Africa in policy-making. This behavior by the US has led African countries to demand equality and an agenda from US officials before any meeting or summit.

China has been successful in promoting its infrastructure development policy in Africa. This is evidenced by China’s growing influence in the continent, as seen in the trade volume between China and the US. China’s trade volume with Africa has reached $264 billion, almost four times that of the US, which is only $64 billion.

China’s approach to Africa differs from that of the US. China treats African countries equally and allows them to participate in their region’s policy-making. Furthermore, China is investing in building infrastructure, which is essential for trade to be conducted through land routes. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to enhance the infrastructure of underdeveloped or developing nations by providing loans to sustain their economy.

Furthermore, China has been making significant investments in Africa’s technological, industrial, and infrastructure sectors, positioning itself as a key player in the African region. In addition, China has established its first military base outside of its country in Africa. These factors have contributed to Africa’s growing reliance on China, as it provides the support and treatment that African countries have been seeking from a partner.

In light of this, the United States must address this situation to maintain its presence in Africa. The US is facing an alarming situation in Africa, particularly after China entered the region’s mineral-rich areas. US policymakers must learn from China’s approach in Africa to remain competitive and strive to build an equitable partnership with African nations. The US can also invest in Africa’s technological, industrial, and infrastructure sectors to regain its regional influence while supporting African countries’ development.

In conclusion, China’s inclusive approach to Africa has made it a dominant player in the region, while the US has been losing ground due to its superior attitude. To maintain its global hegemony, the US must reconsider its approach towards African countries and strive to build an equal partnership. The battle for Africa is ongoing, and the US must act quickly to avoid further loss of regional influence.

Also Read: Beyond colonization: Unraveling myths about China’s global engagement  


*Author is a student from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who is currently pursuing a BA Hons in International Relations at the University of Karachi. He can be contacted at 

**The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views or position of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization neither endorses nor takes responsibility for the content of this article.

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