The partnership of African governments in meeting United States security needs in an environment permeated by international terrorism, the quest for energy and the place of the Gulf of Guinea, especially the oil-producing countries in US energy politics, are thus extremely important in these calculations. There are indications that the US is determined to establish friendly relations with African governments perceived to be supportive of her strategic needs. Different forms of assistance, financial, military and technical, had been offered and will continue to be channeled to individual governments to make them reliable partners in this regard. Both at bilateral and multilateral levels, a lot of diplomatic activity have gone on to consolidate what can be perceived as mutually rewarding arrangements.
It, however, appears that US activities are in the main geared towards fulfilling her national priorities and the region only comes in as a strategic partner. It seems also that the United States is active in the region only when it realized late in the day that the region provides a critical element in achieving her national interests. The case could be made that the United States would have been visibly absent from the African region had it not been for the recent developments at the global and local levels. The events of September 11, 2001 make international security a concern for all humanity but can also be looked at as linked to US foreign policy. The same events have led to the onslaught on perceived enemies of the United States, principally, terrorist groups and cells around the world. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are directly linked to the war against terrorism. So far as threats to US security persist, questions relating to safeguarding her national interest would take centre stage. Africa and the rest of the world should necessarily and certainly come in to play roles that complement the efforts of the United States and her coalition partners to vanquish international terrorism.
On the other hand, Africa has its own problems to resolve. The ravaging incidence of intra-state conflicts across the continent; poverty and indebtedness; high rates of HIV/AIDS infections (the highest rate globally); and the astronomical population growth rates (almost 900 million and expected to rise to 1.2 billion by 2020. These are issues that the US has duly acknowledged and pledged time and again to assist in redressing. It would appear as though such assistance comes through only when there is guarantee that the recipient country is purportedly an ally in a common cause with the United States. The examples cited in the study demonstrate this anomaly in United States foreign policy, the avowed “carrot and stick” approach to decision-making regarding the beneficiaries of her international assistance programs.
The other concern is the lack of consultation in programs that are packaged for the continent. Though the problems and conditions which warrant intervention by our development partners are commonplace, it still would be more appropriate to entreat the cooperation and participation of African leaders and their people on such crucial decisions and policy frameworks. The case of AFRICOM has made controversial headlines because there was an apparent lack of adequate consultation, transparency, trust and mutual understanding, particularly as the true intentions of the United States had to be gleaned initially.
Lastly is the harnessing and development of the region’s vast natural resources. The potential that the region’s energy resources hold for economic growth and development are promising. It will take collaborative effort from the leaders of the African region in association with development partners such as the United States to harness such resources for mutual gain. The tendency to invest in the exploitation of the sub-region’s resources that completely ignores the benefits for the people affects relations and undermines trust. The cases of the Delta Region of Nigeria and by extension, Sudan are concrete examples in this regard; thus efforts must be made by the energy multinationals to invest not only in state security but human security, the security of the people of the sub-region who are the true owners of these resources. This certainly brings to the fore corporate social responsibility (CSO) and civil society groups must support their governments and be at the forefront of negotiations to make this a reality. Recent exploration activities in the oil sector in Ghana and the underlying issues of a legal framework, local content and appropriate formula for the utilization of the oil revenue speaks eloquently in this regard.
The role of regional and sub-regional groupings as bridgeheads of development, integration and security also become extremely important. The African Union, ECOWAS, IGAD and SADC, as examples, should identify their institutional relevance in the evolving security architecture. These organizations must task themselves, and rightly so, with policy coordination, leadership in negotiations and the prioritization of programs that bring development and stability to the continent. In this regard, they should liaise with African governments in providing a consultative forum, a sounding board of a sort towards enhancing the true interests of the people with important global actors such as the United States of America.
1 B. Y. Gebe, ‘The Cold War Reconsidered: The Politics of Survival in Africa.’ In Adjibolosoo, Senyo & Ofori-Amoah, Benjamin (eds.), Addressing Misconceptions about Africa’s Development: Seeing Beyond the Veil. (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), pp. 174-190.
2 President George Bush Jr. for instance, in his January 2003 State of the Union Address announced the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) a five-year US$15 billion program, concentrated on assisting 12 African and 2 Caribbean countries.
3 Refer to the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 1999 signed into an Act of Congress during the presidency of President Bill Clinton.
4 Ghana, for instance, received US$547 million from the United States for utilization in the crucial sectors of rural development, agriculture production, infrastructure provision, towards overall poverty reduction.
5 Address to the Joint Session of Congress after the Gulf War that removed Iraq from Kuwait through the Grand Coalition.
6 Address to the Joint Session of Congress.
7 A. Sarjoh Bah & Kwesi Aning, United States Peace Operations Policy in Africa: From ACRI to AFRICOM. International Peacekeeping, Vol. 15, No. 1, February 2008, p. 119.
8 Ibid, p. 119.
9 Ibid, pp. 120-121.
10 Ibid, p. 121.
11 Ibid, p. 122.
13 Ibid, p. 125.
14 Ibid, p. 122.
15 Quoted in Sarjoh & Aning, p. 126.
16 Ibid, p. 126.
17 National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September, 2002.
18 Sarjoh and Aning, op. cit, p. 128.
19 This was revealed in a One-Day Conference on the AFRICOM project held at Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre on 6th June 2008.
20 See Daily Graphic editions of 19-22 February, 2008 that covered the entire visit of President Bush to Ghana.
21 Global Policy Forum, August 2, 2002. Cited in http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/natres/oil/2002/0802mili.htm
22 PFC Energy, West Africa Petroleum Sector Oil Value Forecast and Distribution. (Washington, D.C: PFC Energy, December 12, 2003). Cited in David Goldwyn and Stephen Morrison, Promoting Transparency in the African Oil Sector. (Washington, D.C: Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 2004), p. 2.
23 James Jay Carafano and Nile Gardiner, “United States Military Assistance for Africa: A Better Solution.” In the Backgrounder, Number 1697, October 15, 2003, p. 2.
24 Carafano & Gardiner, United States Military Assistance for Africa, Carafano, James J. & Gardiner, Nile, “United States Military Assistance for Africa: A Better Solution.” The Backgrounder, No. 1697, October 15, 2003, p. 2.
25 Issah Yakubu, The Oil Find and United States Interests in the Gulf of Guinea – Cradle or Coffin of the Region? Daily Graphic, November 7, 2007.
26 Global Policy Forum, August 2, 2002.
27 Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Task Force Report (March 2004) and recommendations in the Heritage Foundation, October 15, 2003.
28 United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects: Population Database, 2003 at http://esaun..org/unpp/.
Bah, Sarjoh A. & Aning, Kwesi, United States Peace Operations Policy in Africa: From ACRI to AFRICOM. International Peacekeeping, Vol. 15, No. 1, February 2008.
Bennett, LeRoy A., International Organizations: Principles and Issues, 5th Ed. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991).
Carafano, James J. & Gardiner, Nile, “United States Military Assistance for Africa: A Better Solution.” The Backgrounder, No. 1697, October 15, 2003.
Gebe, B. Y., ‘The Cold War Reconsidered: The Politics of Survival in Africa.’ In Adjibolosoo, Senyo & Ofori-Amoah, Benjamin (eds.), Addressing Misconceptions about Africa’s Development: Seeing Beyond the Veil. (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1998).
Goldwyn, David & Morrison, Stephen, Promoting Transparency in the African Oil Sector. (Washington, D.C.: Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 2004).
Finkelstein, Lawrence S. ed., Politics in the United Nations System. (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1988).
Roberts, Adam & Kingsbury, Benedict, United Nations, Divided World: The UN’s Role in International Relations 2nd Ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).
Yakubu, Issah, The Oil Find and United States Interests in the Gulf of Guinea – Cradle or Coffin of the Region? Daily Graphic, November 7, 2007.
Wohlgemuth, L., Rothschild, E. & Co., Common Security and Civil Society in Africa. (Stockholm: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1999).