As part of his first official trip to Africa, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Addis Ababa today to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other officials.
Throughout his trip, Secretary Pompeo has warned African leaders of the dangers of unfettered Chinese investment in the continent. Washington claims that the billions of dollars in loans siphoned by Beijing into infrastructure projects—through investment schemes like the Belt and Road Initiative—have indebted nations, fed corruption and undermined the rule of law.
China, which is Africa’s largest trading partner, counters by arguing that it is better positioned to bring prosperity to the continent while the US seeks to disengage from the region, indicated by Washington’s recent restrictive immigration policies.
Washington seeks not only to warn of China’s “dangerous influence” but also to assert its own position as an interested and capable broker. In the case of Ethiopia, Pompeo may be able to accomplish this aim if the secretary manages to settle an outstanding deal on a $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam project between Ethiopia and Egypt. Accomplishing this feat would show that the US is interested in going beyond propagating its political message against China and is invested in the specific concerns of its African economic partners.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.