US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Africa tour is a sign that the continent remains a “priority for America” given the “interests” by the great world power in reshaping its foreign policy to keep abreast with the 21st century.By Oumar Dembélé
This is the opinion of Dr. Ousmane Sène, director of the West African Research Centre (WARC), in an interview with APA.
Asked whether Africa is part of the priorities of the Trump administration, the current American president who until recently seemed to snub African countries, Dr. Sène emphasised that the continent is a priority for America but “so are all other regions of the world”.
Mike Pompeo is the most senior U.S. official to tour sub-Saharan Africa in the past three years.
But during his tour, the former CIA chief (2017 to 2018) focused only on Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia.
However, Dr. Sène does not make any connection with Pompeo’s past in this powerful intelligence agency, describing as “reasonable” the choice made with regard to the three “flagship countries,” especially in relation to “major concerns, major interests and major issues.”
While Angola, an “oil-producing” country, “was congratulated by Mike Pompeo for the efforts made in the fight against corruption,” Ethiopia for its part is “a country which is in the process of emerging,” without taking into account its “longstanding’ relations with the United States,” the Director of WARC added.
On “this kind of example” that is Senegal, he acknowledged that “many American presidents have visited the African continent, but rarely have we seen a U.S. president come to Africa and not visit Senegal.”
“Pompeo in Africa a very good thing”
Under the watchful eye of Mike Pompeo, American companies last Sunday signed in Dakar with Senegalese public entities five memorandums of understanding on the development, financing and execution of projects in the energy, health and infrastructure sectors.
In diplomatic lingo, a memorandum of understanding means that there are sectors in which countries “have agreed to work together or to offer financing,” Sene explained, giving the example of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCC), which has enabled Senegal to garner “hundreds of billions of CFA francs” to boost its energy sector.
Sène thus sees Pompeo’s visit to Africa in a positive light.
“It comes at a time when people were saying that the United States is considering reducing its military presence in Africa in view of the terrorist threat. But if the US Secretary of State is saying the opposite, saying that his country will continue to fight against the the perils posed by terrorists, it’s a very good thing,” he said.
“We must be optimistic and say that the United States has felt the need to start to shake itself up to show Africa that it counts,” Dr. Sène noted, pointing out that a section of the US population is of African extraction “emotionally, culturally, historically, politically and economically.”
In addition to this, Sene stressed, “Africa’s economic potential does not exist anywhere else: young population, raw materials in quantity, building sites…”
He added: “There are many sectors in which the United States could absolutely invest with profits for both parties. I believe that so far, American investment in Africa has not been substantial”.