Africa and America are two continents that have continued to forge together in various dimensions such as political and developmental sectors. However, in most instances the relations portend to be one man show, where the United States tends to be superior to the counterpart, African continent. The tendency of the United States to oversight almost everything related to the continent is mainly driven by the State’s apprehension to lose its power in Africa. In the recent past, the African continent has continued to draw attention from the United States’ rivals, increasing the capacity of the trade with the continent. Countries, such as the Republic of China, Japan, South and North Korea and the soviet states have started to realize the immense growth potential in Africa (Niblett, 2010). Therefore, a large populace of these countries has continued to flock into the African continent in large numbers.
Consequently, some countries in the African continent have progressively delinked themselves from their traditional friends such as the United States. The trend has not augured well with the United States policy makers. The administration has decided to review its foreign policies towards the continent. The United States has reiterated back to this tendency by identifying sectors that Africa has continued to enjoy a cordial relationship right from independence in the continent. The relationship began right from 1950’s, when the majority of African states gained their independence in a period that was famously referred to as “winds of change” (Niblett, 2010). Over the decades, the United States government has continued to enforce its influence over the African continent. However, the attempt to reign the African continent as a whole cropped up as a result of several factors that the United States deemed significant for their national interest. They acted as drivers that could initiate more policies towards the African continent not only now but also in the future. These drivers determine the kind of foreign policy that the United States government employs as a way of taking precautionary measures against the change of events in the African continent. Therefore, these drivers have continued to change from time to time, enabling the United States policy to continue having relevance in Africa. There are various aspects that have continued to drive the United States to adjust its African policies over the years since the independent period.
Africa has continued to face different threats such as famine, unemployment, disease prevalence, political instability among others. However, in the recent past, African problems have undergone metamorphosis, thus becoming complex. The continent has continued to experience tribulations such as the genocide wars, humanity crimes, terrorism, some of which are global. Chains of these adversity occurrences have threatened the American stability, hence forcing them to reconsider their foreign policies towards the African continent. Conversely, at the wake of the 21st century, the majority of Africans began to shift their political loyalty from the United States and its allies towards the East. Americans sensed a threat from this political move and they had to restructure their African policies so that they do not eclipse.
African politics have proved to be a hard nut to crack due to its uncertainty. Hence, this has continued to act as one of the major aspects that the United States policy makers ponder on when designing African policies. Politics has continued to play pivotal role in the formulation of policies related to the African continent since 1950s during the “winds of change”. During this period, there was abatement of the European colonialism in almost all corners of Africa. There was a looming uncertainty about the political course that these new African states could opt to follow or adopt. Europeans, especially the British, oppressed Africans a lot during the colonial period. Given that majority of these colonialist states were the United States’ allies, American policy makers had to adjust their African policies. Americans had to consider their policies, streamlining them to fit into the international reality that was then changing. They had to ensure that the United States’ image was good enough to the newly found African States. America policymakers officially recognized Africa in 1958 when they created an African department as the first bureau. However, there was lack of political goodwill since the agency was treated as a backwater, a trend that did not go well with Africanists. Americans continued undermining the role of radical political forces in Africa as a result angering certain African leaders in the process. Robert Mugabe is an example of an African leader who broke ties with the foreign policies from the United States. Robert felt that African role in economics and political reforms were greatly undermined on the international arena (Rüland, Hanf, & Manske, 2006). Over the years, other African states have felt that the United States gave them a raw deal in constructive engagement terms in the international platform. Therefore, they had to seek a political relationship with American rivals which tended to portray mutual respect during their engagements. This political shift continued to take root reaching its maximum in the early years of 21st century. Consequently, the tendency has forced the United States and its allies to reconsider their engagement with the African continent. Politics have shifted from master-servant to mutual benefit and engagement in order to win Africans again.
Terrorism is a global pressing predicament, which the United States administration does not take easily. Terrorism has become a global challenge that requires cooperation and joining hands of the representatives of all nations of goodwill in fighting it. Terrorism has not only affected the Middle East but also has spread to various regions in Africa. Sahel and the Somalia Republic are some of the regions where terrorism has continued to be prevalent. In the recent past, terrorism in the continent, especially in Somalia, has become prevalent. As a result, American policy makers had to come with the ways to curb this exacerbating situation. Terrorism in this region normally referred to as “Horn of Africa” has deteriorated thus affecting its neighbors’ stability. Furthermore, increased terrorism activities in this region posed a threat globally. Terrorists used illegal means such as smuggling and kidnapping innocent civilians of different nationalities to earn their leaving. Therefore, during the Bush administration terrorism became one of the United State’s driving forces towards enacting policy that would curb the aggravating predicament in Africa. The United States revived its commitment in fighting terrorism by designing policies that were more committal than before. Bush administration formulated a cooperation policy between civilians and the military in Sahel and in Somalia or Horn of Africa (Kagwanja, 2006).
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The designation of the policy forged in order to strengthen the fight against global terror. Eventually, there was formation of a body known as AFRICOM, African Command. The policy helped the United States to work closely with African states near Somalia and Sahel. AFRICOM came up as a method of creating a counterterrorism unit by the United States towards the African continent. The United States’ administration continued depicting its commitment towards this AFRICOM policy even after Bush administration, since terrorism posed a threat to any US citizen. It funded the policy in order to strengthen the initiative thus abating terrorism activities in these two African regions. Yields were desirable since Kenya Defense Forces were able to take control of Somalia, making it regain its stability. The move was strengthened by the act of Americans, offering help to this group thus making a success.
Drug traffic in Africa has acted as another major drive that draws attention of the United States policy makers on the African continent. In the recent past, drug trafficking within the African continent has raised tremendously, a scenario that has caught the Americans attention to put up measures in order to curb it. The United States government has enacted counternarcotics policies in Africa as a way to fight this rising tendency. Trans-Africa trafficking of drugs has increased alarmingly, causing the need to draft an anti drug policy towards the continent. This trend is rampant in West African countries such as Nigeria hence the United States department that deals with drugs keeps vigil of this region. Just like terrorism, drug traffic is a global predicament and hence Americans take no chances whenever they hear that such business thrives easily. Drug warlords operate globally, thus making the fight against this illegal business an international disaster.
The United States administration also engages with Africans countries in various developmental projects. Thus development projects become another avenue through which the US government formulated policies towards the African continent. Example of these policies is the formation of USAID, “The US Agency for International Development”. The organization has provided a total of $285 million to help in enhancing technology of the continent and in trying to advance the continent’s private sector (Chafer & Cumming, 2011). Thus, the funds provided a help for the government’s implemented policies among other reforms that are deemed critical in attracting investors into their respective countries. The move helps to improve the efficiency in production of the nations’ major sectors such as the power and energy sectors. Therefore, the United States plays a highly pivotal role in the development of the African states in various capacities.
Other areas that drive the American government to put up policies that help in governing the African States is the environmental conservation. The influx in the number of Asians who invest in Africa has also come with its negativities. Some have ill motives whereby they engage in illegal business activities such as the ivory trade. The Americans have realized this trend and have come up with the measures to curb this trend. Some of policy measures include a strong campaign against poaching, thus, discouraging ivory business (Stiles, 2004). Other measures include policies that help to conserve the environment such as a forestation policy. All these policies have the United States government designs in order to be relevant in Africa. However, the majority of them is driven by the essentiality of addressing various problems that bedevil the African continent.
African continent is neither immune to problems nor it can exist on its own without depending on other continents’ contribution. The United States is one of the Africa’s traditional allies since the wave of gaining independence across Africa began. However, the mutual relationship has continued to face stiff completion, especially from the perceived American enemies. These countries include China and Russia. Thus, the American government has to utilize every loophole that it perceives as a driver towards its engagement with the African countries. Such measures help the US to remain relevant in Africa in the face of global stiff completion from the other rising global giants.