There have been question marks about the directions of America-Africa relations after the election of Donald Trump as US president. Trump, who has visited Africa once (Egypt), has so far not made any pronouncement(s) on whether his administration will look to Africa- the second largest continent- for trade deals and other mutually beneficial interactions. However, according to documents obtained by the New York times from sources in Trump’s transition team, there is a growing skepticism in the Trump team on whether continued aid to Africa serves the interests of America.
According to the Times, A four-page list of Africa-related questions from the transition staff has made the rounds at the State Department and Pentagon. The tone and framing of the questions has alarmed longtime African specialists as it suggests an American retreat from development and humanitarian goals, while at the same time trying to push forward business opportunities across the continent.
One question suggests that Trump could be looking to make Africa the playground in his battle with China, which for now has been limited to tweets:
“How does U.S. business compete with other nations in Africa? Are we losing out to the Chinese?”
Another question could put potentially put African dictators and corrupt barons on the alert:
“With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?”
On terrorism, the document asks why the United States is even bothering to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and ponders why all of the schoolgirls kidnapped by the group have not been rescued. In addition, the document questions whether Al-Qaeda operatives from Africa are living in the United States.
In other questions, the Trump transition team challenges the benefits of a trade pact known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act:
“Most of AGOA imports are petroleum products, with the benefits going to national oil companies, why do we support that massive benefit to corrupt regimes?” the questionnaire asks.
Experts however, expect Mr. Trump to support the AGOA initiative as it has created 120,000 jobs in America.