Europe seeks to reconquer Africa, the world’s newest emerging market
European governments, which have exploited and looted valuable resources during their 100-year colonial occupation of Africa, have stepped up their efforts to expand economic and military influence on the continent under the pretext of economic developing and fighting terrorism.
With a population of more than 1.3 billion, Africa is the world's newest emerging market, and economic powers like China, Russia, Turkey, Japan, India and France have begun to exploit it resources.
In addition to economic exploitation, Europeans are also seeking to expand their military presence on the continent.
By 2050, 30 million young Africans will be entering the labor market, and Europe is trying to utilize this massive labor force with its so-called economic assistance and investments.
But for Western powers, the importance of expanding their military presence on the continent takes precedence over Africa’s economic benefits.
The outbreak of the coronavirus became an additional pretext for Europe to increase its influence on the continent, after Pope Francis urged wealthy nations to forgive Africa's financial debts.
As Africa faces major challenges this year, including escalating geopolitical
tensions, unemployment and a debt crisis, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, the
Europeans seek to reassert their past influence.
During a speech last year, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said overall, the bloc wants to scale up its partnership with Africa and make it more effective.
“We have geopolitical interests in Africa. Our growth and security depends on what happens in Africa, maybe more than in any other part of the world,” Borrell said.
While the EU is not always seen as a
financial heavyweight in Africa, the 27-member bloc together is the source of
more than $250 billion in foreign investment on the continent, compared to $48
billion from the United States, and $43 billion from China.
Military expansion in Africa
Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, France has been conducting military operations in Africa’s Sahel region since 2013 with the support of other European countries.
The Sahel is located between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. It stretches between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.
France has always tried to persuade its European counterparts to further support its military presence in the Sahel by warning that the presence of extremists could pose a threat to the whole of Europe.