After long absence from Africa, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heads to 3 African Countries – Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia on diplomatic mission. The journey to these African countries will be essentially a mission on combating terrorism, bridge building and trade.
With China, Russia and Europeans encroaching strongly on commercial and diplomatic landscape of Africa, it becomes imperative for America to revitalize its standing and dominance on trade with Africa.
“Pompeo is visiting Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia as the Trump administration tries to counter the growing interest of China, Russia and other global powers in Africa and its booming young population of more than 1.2 billion. His visit comes as the U.S. military considers reducing its presence in West Africa’s Sahel region while extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group expand their reach, killings hundreds of civilians. Pompeo last year said the Sahel should be the next focus of the global coalition against IS outside the group’s core region.”
NOT VISITING NIGERIA
Nigeria is among six countries affected by the new visa restrictions placed by Trump administration and the others including Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania. The new travel ban policy, which takes effect Feb. 21 has brought some pitfalls with Washington diplomatic relation with the most populous and richest country in Africa – Nigeria.
Meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo , the Nigerian foreign minister Onyeama said, “We have identified all those requirements, we had actually started working on all of them. We hope to have that up and running very soon and no longer running through third parties. Hopefully once that has been achieved we look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list.”
Associate Press reported: “The U.S. travel restrictions come at a time of growing insecurity in Nigeria. The country’s military is still battling a decade-long insurgency by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in the northeast, and also now confronts a breakaway faction that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.”
“Also raising concerns is the Trump administration’s announcement last month that it will no longer be issuing immigrant visas to citizens of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with an estimated 200 million people and a large, often high-achieving diaspora. New visa restrictions also were imposed on Eritrea, Tanzania and Sudan.”
“The U.S. military this month holds its annual Flintlock exercises in Senegal and neighboring Mauritania to help train regional armies to counter extremism. There are signs, though, that U.S. military interest could be waning. Late last year the U.S. switched to a strategy of merely trying to contain extremist groups in the Sahel instead of weakening them, according to a new report by the Pentagon inspector general. Meanwhile the U.S. has begun replacing some combat troops in Africa with military trainers. Worried French officials have lobbied the U.S. not to reduce its presence in the Sahel, where France’s largest overseas military operation leads the fight against extremists and is adding hundreds of troops.”
Africa and US have been in cordial relationship since the inception of democratic rule in most of the African countries. But since the rise of China with its massive investments in Africa, America appears to be taking back seat. But Washington is giving a signal that she is ready to come back to Africa especially on investment and trade. This is the right time for US to speed up its presence in the continent . Britain after decamping from European Union is showing much interest in Africa especially in Nigeria, therefore it is necessary for America to be leading from the front. The time for America to regain its foothold in Africa with its cultural and commercial safety net is now.