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African Leaders are Preparing For Donald Trump's Next Act

African leaders are bracing themselves for a second Trump term and all that that entails. Trump is unlikely to pull the reigns on Africa engagement because the region has never been of more interest to America than it is now. After all, it has a vast and growing consumer market, packed to the gills with the minerals the world needs, and is a prime region where DC and Beijing will vie for influence. It was Trump who established the DFC which doubled the investment capacity of the government to $60 billion.

Donald Trump is the only viable candidate remaining in the Republican primary competition. Nikki Haley, the former UN Ambassador under Trump, is polling poorly and was recently trounced in the New Hampshire primary. She has already admitted defeat in Nevada where she won't be campaigning, and is polling well behind Trump in South Carolina, the state she once led as its Governor.

Who wins between Trump and Biden? Under Biden, the world has descended into a war-torn mess, and been rocked with financial calamity after financial calamity. Snoop Dog's "endorsement" of Trump shows the direction the winds are blowing when he recently said that he has "nothing but love and respect" for Donald Trump. Snoop Dog was a vocal supporter of Biden during the first matchup between the pair in 2020.

Perhaps Trump's largest achievement in Africa was the establishment of the Development Finance Corporation ("DFC") through the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development ("BUILD") Act. The BUILD Act gave the new development bank an investment capacity of $60 billion, double that of its predecessor (i.e., OPIC). Biden has continued Trump's focus on "trade over aid" with Africa resulting in 547 new deals, with a total value of $14.2 billion, which Washington DC claims it has supported in Africa in 2023.

One of the most exciting projects to spring from this new way of engaging Africa is a direct investment into a strategically vital Lobito Corridor which aims to connect the mineral-rich parts of Angola, the DRC, and Zambia to the Atlantic through rail and other supporting infrastructure. According to US government representatives, and the Lobito Corridor Investment Promotion Authority, the project is "the most significant transport infrastructure that the US has helped develop on the African continent in more than a generation."

A second trump term would signal a more "transactional" approach and economic focus. Africans might also see a stronger commitment to battling extremist elements through counterterrorism cooperation between the Pentagon and nations in Africa. Biden has continued much of Trump's rhetoric and policies relating to countering China, but hasn't raised the ante and if anything has pulled the reigns. Another Trump term would mean a more open tug-of-war between the economic competitors, which is an opportunity for African leaders who can navigate the geopolitics and avoid getting caught in the crossfire.




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