Scramble for minerals, markets by foreign firms is forcing US to recalibrate security strategy in Africa

Scramble for minerals, markets by foreign firms is forcing US to recalibrate security strategy in Africa


“The US has recalibrated its approach. We will not only seek to empower the African continent in the field of security, development and governance, but we will also strive to help them address the drivers of instability and conflict to meet the ambition and promise of Africa.”

This is according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs Chidi Blyden, who spoke in Washington in December.

She explained how US-Africa security ties are being revamped, with the recent US-Africa summit being one way to understand African challenges.

“For my work at the Department of Defence, our newly released National Defence Strategy prioritises three areas of engagement: countering violent extremist organisations, strengthening and enabling allies and partners to support mutual security objectives and addressing targeted strategic competition concerns that would have negative ramifications for the US and our partners.”

Blyden said through the recently launched US Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa, “This Africa strategy will refocus US through four lines of effort: delivering democratic and security dividends, advancing pandemic recovery and economic opportunities, supporting conservation and climate change adaptations for strengthening a just energy transition, and strengthening our bilateral and multilateral partnerships in Africa.”

“We have seen the SADC region or the Southern African Development Community agreement members, intervene and – excuse me – respond to the crisis in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. We have seen this also in nearby DRC where the regional leaders of the East African Community are employing their diplomatic and military solutions to bring stability to a conflict not just using military interventions but also using dialogue. America is a 3D construct. It uses development, defence and diplomacy – 3 Ds – tools to achieve its outcomes.”

An example of US efforts to improve security in Africa can be seen in Niger. In April 2022, US Africa Command supplied a field hospital to Niger and in Fiscal Year 2021 allocated $43 million to Niger for peacekeeping operations and military education and training.

In November 2022, the Department of Defence delivered eight armoured personnel carriers (APCs), spares and training to support Niger’s deployment to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and is procuring 38 additional APCs on a more recently awarded contract. These 46 new APCs are in addition to those previously provided to the G5 Sahel and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

In the last three months, US commanding general, James Hecker of the US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, had visited Air Base 101 and 201 in Niger where, “he met with the Niger Air Chief to obtain situational awareness from the Niger Armed Forces’ perspective on the threats in the area and discussed the partnership between nations,” according to the US Africa Command website.

“Each installation briefed Hecker on force protection along with a perimeter tour to better understand the installation’s significant improvements as well as ongoing challenges.”

The US in January handed over the last of three surplus C-130 Hercules transports to Niger, along with training, spares, and a new hangar.

  • A Tell report /Pearl Matibe in Washington DC
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