by Mustapha Mensah
There have been several bilateral relationships between the U.S. and African countries, and, recently, bilateral ties between China and African countries have intensified. The U.S. and China maintain a bilateral relationship, which has expanded to encompass a broad range of global, regional and bilateral issues. The United States seeks China's cooperation in rebalancing the global economy and reigniting global growth. Therefore, to achieve these goals, both countries seek many of their mineral supplies from Africa (Sprance, 2008). Africa has been a reservoir of natural resources for several decades, and the recent discovery of oil in a number of African countries introduces new dynamics to the natural resource discussion.
The United States considers Africa as global partner, especially since it derives about 16 percent of its oil imports from the continent (Sprance, 2008). It is important to note that the strategic interests of the U.S. in Africa also transcend oil and other resources to include, but not limited to, preventing the spread of terrorism, strengthening good governance and democratic values, increasing trade, and addressing global health and environmental challenges.
Similarly, China has increased its presence in Africa for strategic reasons. The country seeks three things from Africa, namely, unimpeded and virtually exclusive access to natural resources, new markets for its export-driven economy, and increased influence among global political allies. There have been some positive outcomes emanating from these key strategic interventions by the Chinese government but these outcomes depend largely on clear government policy. Some examples of policy interventions are support for African commercial ventures, financing and tax rebates for Chinese firms operating abroad, and improved and better diplomacy towards the continent (DeLorenzo, 2007).