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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

What Does Prigozhin's Death Mean For Russia's Ambitions In Africa?

Russia has entered the race for influence in Africa over the past decade, largely on the shoulders of the Wagner Group and its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin. What happens now is unclear, though Vladimir Putin won't want to cede any ground to other world powers in the race for influence on the continent.

Africa will become increasingly important in Russian foreign policy in the near future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently declared. Statements by Russian officials are often empty words — but not this one.

Russia entered the race for influence in Africa in the second half of the 2010s, when it became obvious that cooperation with the West was coming to an end. The annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas and sanctions were already things of the past.

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Now, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has returned Moscow's foreign policy to the Cold War era, when it was critical to have political spheres of influence. But Russia is struggling: it has almost nothing it can offer Africa. Instead, it is Russia that needs Africa’s support. As one of the largest blocs of countries voting in the UN, and one of the most promising regional economies, Africa is of huge strategic importance for Russia.

Moscow's return to Africa began after its military operation in Syria in 2015. After it had regained influence in the Middle East, many governments in the Global South appreciated the strength Russia demonstrated in defending Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and turned to Moscow to aid in resolving regional conflicts.

As confrontation with the West intensified, Moscow needed allies, if only from a rhetorical standpoint. Indeed, Russia’s emphasis on the hypocrisy of Western elites and their colonial projects resonate with people in Africa.

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Wagner In Africa: How Prigozhin Could Also Upend Russian Foreign Policy

Prigozhin's brief insurrection will be watched closely in many African countries, where Wagner mercenaries have largely been the beachhead for Russian foreign policy. Keep an eye on a key African-Russian summit next month.


PARIS — Of all the speeches made in Russia to explain, rectify or re-frame Saturday's madness, perhaps the most interesting came from Sergei Lavrov, the longtime head of Russian diplomacy. A steadfast Putin loyalist, Lavrov declared that "of course" the efforts by the Wagner Group in Mali and the Central African Republic would continue.

It's all in the "of course"... As if nothing had happened in Russia to upset Wagner's operations; as if Vladimir Putin hadn't spoken of "treason" by Wagner's boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

This "of course" says a lot about the need to reassure Russia's friends abroad, particularly in Africa, about the country's stability and its international operations. In this case, the latter refers to the activities of Wagner's mercenaries, who have become Russia's vanguard in regaining its influence around the world.

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But the Foreign Minister's statement is diplomatic acrobatics, raising more questions than it answers. In Bamako, Mali, and Bangui, in the Central African Republic, at any rate, they'd do better to ask the questions themselves.

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The Unique Role Of African Americans In Building A New U.S.-Africa Alliance

Recent allegations by the U.S. ambassador to South Africa that the African nation gave ammunition and weapons to Russia in December 2022, amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, illustrate the complexity of U.S.-Africa relations.

Even as South Africa investigates those claims, the Biden administration is trying to strengthen ties with the African Union, a continental member organization, and 49 of Africa’s 54 countries, including South Africa, on geopolitical and commercial issues.

The only African countries the U.S. is not courting are four that were suspended from the African Union, and Eritrea, a country with which the United States doesn’t have a formal relationship.

The U.S. is making this grand African play as it competes with China to influence the continent’s future. And while this particular U.S.-China contest is relatively new, U.S. involvement in Africa is not.

The way the U.S. has been involved on the continent, though, has changed over time, depending on the era, U.S. interests and a particular African nation’s needs. In 1822, for example, the U.S. began to send freeborn African Americans and emancipated former enslaved African Americans to Africa, where they settled the colony that would eventually become Liberia. That settlement was originally governed by white Americans.

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Business, Racism And Censorship: The Saga Of Chinese Influencers In Africa

A ban last June from Beijing of live-streaming from Africa followed a BBC report on a TikToker producing racist videos. Though explicit racism is the exception, a deeper look at Chinese influencers in Africa finds the content shows a general lack of interest in the continent and its people. Some of the TikTokers are leaving, either for Southeast Asia or back to China.

BEIJING — Last June, BBC News' Africa Eye aired a documentary called Racism for Sale that included a Chinese TikToker nicknamed "Luke" who filmed children in Malawi chanting racist slogans about African people. Luke was subsequently arrested by local police in Malawi.

Though Chinese influencers have been making short videos in Africa for years, the incident brought unprecedented attention in China to the world of online content about Africa. Statements were released by the Director General of the African Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Malawian Embassy stating that there would be zero tolerance for racist content, with Beijing officials placing new restrictions on the kind of content platforms can publish, in order to avoid similar offensive and embarrassing incidents.

The explicit racism in the Luke video, it turns out, is largely the exception in the crowded space of Chinese internet content coming out of Africa. The life presented on TikTok is instead largely about the Chinese people who live in Africa, including businessmen who run hotels, mines, factories and farms, as well as employees of state-owned Chinese enterprises working on local infrastructure projects in Africa. The content of the videos typically chronicles their daily lives, and has become widely popular, and in the past was quite lucrative.

"When times were good, I had no problem making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month," says one Africa-based Chinese content producer. The income has dropped notably, report most TikTokers, but the videos coming from Africa remain popular in China. A survey of the content shows that there are hardly any overtly racist videos. Instead, there is a clearly shallow understanding of — and general lack of interest in — African culture.

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Financial Afrik

Foreign Cash, Women Founders: How African Tech Is Bouncing Back, Post-COVID

The African tech ecosystem is bouncing back after a slowdown during the pandemic, with local innovation fueled by increasing investment from foreign tech giants.

DAKAR — Despite a tense macroeconomic context, the growth of the African tech ecosystem shows no sign of slowing down.

In 2022, African startups recorded an 8% increase in investor funding compared to the previous year, according to a 2022 report from PartechAfrica Tech Venture Capital. The context remains favorable to the continent, which is attracting many foreign investment funds.

"The current period is one of a flight to quality," says Melvyn Lubega, an investor at French fund Breega, which has recently boosted its investments in Africa.

This resilience has surprised many observers. After the COVID-19 health crisis, the strength of African economies and continued high growth rates surprised some economists, who had expected a catastrophe.

But digital technology is not immune to good news. Despite an international context of investor withdrawal, liquidity scarcity and never-ending inflation, African tech remains in the green and has managed to attract 1,149 unique investors in 2022, an increase of 29% compared to 2021.

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Adama Wade

The African Union Must Take A Stand On Tunisian President's Racist Tactics

Tunisia's president has risen to power on the back of populism that suggests black people are trying to replace Arabs. The African Union has not intervened, begging the question of what is its purpose.


DAKAR — Habib Bourguiba led Tunisia to independence from France and led the country for over 30 years. The continent remembers Bourguiba the African, and the title of Supreme Fighter was awarded to him posthumously by the Mandela Institute in 2017.

The father of independence had time to embrace the African and Mediterranean dimension of his country and assimilate the three isms (pan-Africanism, pan-Arabism, and pan-Islamism) that constitute the Tunisian identity.

But the difference between Habib Bourguiba and the country's current President Kaci Saïed could not be more stark.

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Pierre Haski

Au Revoir Françafrique? Macron Tries To Bury The French Colonial Mindset In Africa

French President Emmanuel Macron has outlined a new policy for France's relationship with Africa, recognizing the need for a departure from post-colonial mindsets. But he faces challenges at home and abroad.


PARIS — One cannot accuse Emmanuel Macron of being unaware that Africa has changed — and that France's approach to the continent must change too. As early as his election in 2017, the French President expressed this sentiment in a speech to students in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, and reiterated it last year at the Africa-France Summit in Montpellier, where he once again spoke to the younger generation.

He has finally outlined the contours of a new policy that breaks with a colonial past, which is still not forgotten, before embarking on an important trip to Central Africa (Gabon, Angola, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo) on Wednesday.

The problem is that changing direction is particularly difficult when burdened with the weight of colonial and post-colonial history, as well as France’s misguided old reflexes.

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Deni Dilolo

Africa's Real Risk For The Future: Brain Drain

The best and the brightest, those with real vision for the future, are more likely to leave their native African countries that continue to be mired in short-term fatalism, corruption and lack of development.


Sixty-six years after Ghana became the first independent country in Africa, the continent continues to struggle with the same problems. There is a lack of a development plan, and the way of life remains "living as you go" — a lifestyle with no plans, no goals and no legacy.

Live today, eat today, without looking at the long term — unless it is another United Nations program that aims to fulfill a Western agenda with no prior local understanding, analysis or context.

Several already well-known problems include lack of water, basic sanitation, lack of respect for individual and civil liberties, corruption and the uneven rule of law that exempts rulers and public administrators from criminal responsibility.

But the biggest problem is the loss of intellectuals and leaders. This brain drain is a result of the following factors: a lack of appreciation for local citizens, and their persecution when they respond and bring to the table discussions about specific problems.

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Ruth Mace*

A Brief History Of Patriarchy, And How To Topple It

Many people assume the patriarchy has always been there, but how did it really originate? History shows us that there can be another way.

The patriarchy, having been somewhat in retreat in parts of the world, is back in our faces. In Afghanistan, the Taliban once again prowl the streets more concerned with keeping women at home and in strict dress code than with the impending collapse of the country into famine.

And on another continent, parts of the U.S. are legislating to ensure that women can no longer have a legal abortion. In both cases, lurking patriarchal beliefs were allowed to reemerge when political leadership failed. We have an eerie feeling of travelling back through time. But how long has patriarchy dominated our societies?

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Christian Putsch

How Putin Played The Africa Card Just Right

African countries have mostly stayed quiet on the war in Ukraine. And with good reason. Western influence is diminishing on the continent, and Russian President Vladimir Putin knows how to push the right buttons of African autocrats.


On his return from a visit to Russia in June, Senegalese President Macky Sall made a momentous statement. He declared that most African countries have avoided condemning Russia, “despite enormous pressure.” His pride in this stance was obvious, and his words confirmed a suspicion that political leaders across Europe and in the U.S. have long held about African attitudes towards the West.

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In March and April, when the United Nations was voting on which sanctions to impose on Russia in response to its attack on Ukraine, around half of the African countries abstained. Many did not even attend the vote. Sall also repeated Moscow’s misleading claims that the sudden shortage of wheat and fertilizer across the Global South was not caused by the war in Ukraine, but by Western sanctions. In fact, the West had not restricted the trade of these products.

Sall was not only speaking for his own country, Senegal. As current Chairperson of the African Union – which recently turned down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to address them via video link – he represents the entire continent of Africa.

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Aïda N'Diaye*

Why Western Outrage At War In Europe Never Makes It To Africa

The way armed conflicts have been represented in fiction for decades could explain the racism that has been revealed in Western media coverage of the war in Ukraine compared to multiple conflicts over the years in Africa.

Double standards. That is what is striking when we compare the political and media treatment of the war in Ukraine — and the massive exodus this conflict is creating — to the treatment (or non-treatment) of the multiple crises that have similarly affected African countries in recent decades.

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For example, think back to CBS News special correspondent Charlie D’Agata’s statement on Feb. 25: ”This is not a place […] like Iraq or Afghanistan […]. Kyiv is a relatively civilized city,” he said to underline what he found particularly shocking about the images shot in Ukraine.

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Amadou Sadjo Barry*

For African Diplomacy, The Ukraine War Opens A Whole New Era

Facing geopolitical devastation caused by the war in Ukraine, the African continent cannot be subordinate and obliged to choose one power over another. It must bring about an African foreign policy for a new multipolar world.

Those still in doubt just have to listen again to Vladimir Putin’s war-mongering speech on the eve of the invasion. The Russian president clearly calls for a reconfiguration of the post-Cold War international order, which would reduce the West’s grip on the world. The first country targeted by this repositioning strategy is the U.S., whose military presence Moscow intends to challenge in Europe, mainly in the East.

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After more than a month of conflict, the question is no longer whether the Russian armed forces will withdraw from Ukraine, but if Putin could take advantage of this new demonstration of force to impose new rules on Americans and their allies, in the new world in which Russia will be a center of politico-military domination in its own right.

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