In Episode 16 of the Cybersecurity & Geopolitical Discussion, co-hosts Phillip Ingram, MBE, and Ian Thornton-Trump, CD, discuss the background and recent events in Africa with guest Lisa Forte from Red Goat Cybersecurity. The trio examines findings from a strategic intelligence report from Cyjax that detail China and Russia's colonial and developmental activities on the continent.
The West’s obsession with counterterrorism, now supplanted by the recent provocative moves by Russia in Eastern Europe, left the door wide open for Russian and China to ‘invest’ in Africa to unprecedented levels after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While it may be true that western nations have been engaged in the global war on terror leading to significant engagements and targeted eliminations in some African countries, their investment in economic development has taken a back seat, unlike the ever-increasing Russian and Chinese presence on the continent.
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Dive into Episode 16
All is not well in Africa, and a strategic intelligence report from Cyjax sets the stage for a lively discussion between the three panelists. Both China and Russia have sympathized with post-colonial struggles in Africa and have actively shown continued support for areas of significant need on the continent, whether this be through funding new infrastructure projects, offering scholarship programs or providing military assistance. However, this activity is not always well received in Africa and has been criticized heavily by the West. In fact, U.S. diplomats make a point of identifying Russia's participation as counterproductive to democracy, while calling out the Chinese investment as an economic peril for African nation beneficiaries. There remain two sides to the story of the "new colonialism" activities being undertaken by Russia and China.
Armed with the One Belt One Road strategy, China is not pausing its investments in Africa and recognizes the strategic value of the minerals many African countries possess. The exploitation of Africa by China is subject to open debate, but the recent offer by Chinese company Gochin of $10 billion to the Taliban for access to lithium deposits raises serious ethical investment questions for the West. This may seem like a lot to pay, but the estimated value of the lithium deposits in Afghanistan are likely to be more than a trillion dollars.
Russia is all too happy to dive into the internal matters of African countries in the form of supplying military capabilities via The Wagner Group and other private military company (PMC) operatives for Russian considerations. Exactly what Russia is asking in return remains more than a little murky and is likely to be related to securing strategic minerals along with assisting the leaders of certain African nations with the brutal suppression of any form of political decent. This Russian presence, influence and capability has exacerbated the situation in Sudan, for example, and threatens to engulf other African nations in bloodshed.
Too often the word "development" is used as a euphemism for "exploitation" or "colonization." In the 18th century, the word "civilize" was part of the lexicon used to describe policy towards Africa, a legacy of abhorrent behavior which echoes from history today in western relationships with many African nations. Enjoy the trio’s thoughts and discussion on this complex relationship from the geopolitical to the cyber in Africa!