Kenya is set to be named an “anchor” country when the Trump administration unveils its Africa policy on Thursday.
National Security Advisor John Bolton, known for his hard-line foreign-policy views, is set to outline a new approach to Africa that puts emphasis on countering perceived threats to US interests on the continent posed in particular by China.
The Trump team’s initiative is said to entail efforts to enhance relations with Kenya and other African countries viewed as regionally important and also as prime targets of China’s moves to gain political and economic advantages on the continent.
“The White House strategy is expected to name several countries as anchors for the US strategy, and experts close to the administration expect the list to include Kenya, a long-standing US ally,” NBC News reported on Monday.
Mr Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, will present the long-awaited Africa blueprint in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank generally supportive of Mr Trump’s policies. Joshua Meservey, the Heritage Foundation’s Africa specialist, said in an email on Tuesday that US corporations will be encouraged to invest in select African countries.
“I expect that part of operationalising enhanced relationships with countries will include trying to facilitate in various ways US companies’ greater involvement in Africa,” Mr Meservey said.
“I expect ambassador Bolton will reaffirm the administration’s recognition of geopolitical competition as the most urgent challenge to US interests,” Mr Meservey added.
“In the Africa context, that means responding especially to China, but also Russia, Iran and the North Korea.”
The Trump approach is also expected to give lessened importance to counter-terrorism operations in Africa, which has been the centrepiece of Washington’s approach to the continent in the 21st century. But Mr Meservey cautioned that “the US is unlikely to ignore terrorism and other security concerns as part of its Africa strategy. It is too pressing a problem to ignore.”
US military assistance to Somalia is thought likely to be sustained in the new policy.
Today’s roll-out is intended to demonstrate Trump administration engagement with Africa after the continent had been treated for many months as an afterthought in US global calculations.
Mr Trump expressed his dismissive view early this year by using a vulgar term to describe African countries.