Scramble for Africa

Chloe Atkinson
Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

Russia’s involvement in Africa is growing, as it increases its military cooperation, trade, and energy cooperation with African nations. While there are concerns about Russia’s motives and the human rights records of some of the African nations that Russia is cooperating with, it is clear that Russia sees Africa as an important partner in its efforts to increase its global influence. Russia’s involvement in Africa dates back to the Soviet era when it supported African nations during the Cold War. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s interest in Africa waned. In recent years, Russia has been making a renewed effort to strengthen its ties with African nations.

But Russian entrenchment in Africa could be detrimental to the continent for several reasons. Firstly, it could lead to increased competition between global powers for access to Africa’s natural resources, which could result in further exploitation of these resources and exacerbate existing conflicts. This will likely have a negative impact on the continent’s economic and political stability.

Secondly, the proliferation of foreign arms and military equipment could fuel existing conflicts and contribute to the rise of extremist groups. This could further destabilize the continent and threaten the safety and security of its people.

Thirdly, foreign involvement in Africa could undermine the efforts of African countries to establish their own sovereignty and economic independence. This could be particularly damaging for countries that are already struggling to emerge from poverty and underdevelopment.

Fourth, it could have a negative impact on democracy and human rights in the region. Russia has a history of supporting authoritarian regimes and suppressing political opposition, and its involvement in Africa could reinforce these tendencies. Russia’s decision to sell weapons and military equipment to African nations is driven by a combination of economic, political, and strategic interests. While this has generated controversy and concern among some, it is likely that Russia will continue to pursue these sales as a means of advancing its interests in the region.

As an arms supplier, Russia is one of the largest exporters in the world, and selling to African countries provides a lucrative market. Many African countries have experienced conflicts and political instability, which has created a demand for military hardware to address security challenges. Russia is able to supply these nations with a wide range of weapons and military equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and small arms.

By selling such hardware to African nations, Russia is able to establish and maintain relationships with key players on the continent, which can be leveraged for diplomatic and geopolitical gains. Russia has also been known to use arms sales as a tool to counterbalance other countries’ influence in the region, such as the United States and China. Russia is also able to advance its strategic interests by gaining access to ports and airfields on the continent, which could be used for military operations.

Russia has also increased its trade with African nations. In 2019, with Africa reached $20 billion, with the majority of this trade coming from the export of oil and gas. Russia has also been investing in infrastructure projects, such as the construction of railways and ports. Energy cooperation is another important element of Russia’s influence in Africa and it has provided expertise in the development of nuclear power there.

Excerpted: ‘Russian Entrenchment in Africa’.