Displayed with permission from dpa German Press Agency
Donald Trump’s presidency does not bode well for Africa. Trade, aid and security are at stake. Political analysts predict volatility and regression.
Johannesburg (dpa) – Donald Trump’s election victory has sparked massive concern across Africa, with experts fearing a reduction in trade deals and humanitarian aid as well as more brutal anti-terrorism tactics.
« If his electoral promises are anything to go by … then it’s bad news for Africa, » Cameroonian politics professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle told dpa.
Analysts are concerned about Trump’s isolationist policies, narrow economic interests and almost complete lack of interest in Africa.
« He has not shown any interest in the complexity of international affairs, » said John Stremlau, professor at the department of international relations at Witwatersrand University in South Africa’s economic metropole, Johannesburg.
Africa is seen as featuring little on Trump’s radar – so much so that he barely mentioned the continent in his first foreign policy speech in April this year.
« He has only said a couple of things about Africa, including denigrating African-Americans, » said Stremlau. « The consequences [of his victory] for Africa are hard to fathom. »
Ethiopian government spokesman Negeri Lencho warned that Trump was « only interested in trade deals that benefit the United States. »
Such « isolationist » policies were likely to reduce trade with Africa, agreed Chelsea Markowitz, an analyst with the South African Institute of International Affairs.
Markowitz said Trump was likely to thwart the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement, which enables nations in sub-Saharan Africa to export tax-free to the US. AGOA does not expire until 2025, but re-negotiations are already under way.
« Trump will be a tougher negotiator [than President Barack Obama]. I am not even sure if any post-AGOA agreement will materialize, » Markowitz said.
Professor Patrick Bond from the School of Governance at Witwatersrand University warned that Trump’s presidency would also likely reinforce conservative tendencies within the International Monetary Fund, making it more difficult for cash-strapped African countries to obtain loans to maintain basic social services.
Another concern is that Trump’s victory will hinder the fight against climate change in Africa, whose southern region is currently grappling with a massive drought, Bond added.
Nearly 20 million people in the worst-hit countries will need emergency humanitarian assistance in the later months of 2016 and into 2017, according to the UN.
Trump is expected to cut US humanitarian aid to Africa, a move that would also adversely affect the health sector, especially the fight against AIDS and malaria.
Currently, roughly a third of the US aid budget goes towards health, with a large amount of this earmarked for Africa.
« Trump believes America spends too much on other people and should spend more on Americans, » said Zachary Donnenfeld, an analyst with South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies.
« All the progress that’s been made in the health sector in the last 15-20 years could backslide, » Donnenfeld warned.
Under a Trump presidency, Africa is also likely to see an escalation of US drone strikes and the use of military force to counter terrorism.
An advocate of torture and a no-holds-barred campaign against terrorism, particularly organizations affiliated with Islamic State, Trump may expand US military operations from the current drone strikes in Somalia to Nigeria, Cameroon or Egypt, said Donnenfeld.
He added that, because Trump had mentioned in previous speeches the need to kill family members of terrorists, it was possible that the US would also indiscriminately target civilians, thereby potentially increasing terrorist recruitment.
« It could spell disaster for Africa, » Donnenfeld said.
Salif Tounkara, the leader of a youth organization in northern Mali, which has been hit hard by radical Islamist groups, took a more positive spin on Trump’s statements.
He told dpa he hoped that « Trump will establish a new world order allowing to combat terrorism. »
Trump’s victory was welcomed by Burundi and South Sudan, two of Africa’s most disreputable regimes. Analysts said the countries’ leaders were hoping Trump would pressurize them less over their human rights records than Obama had done.
« Trump’s victory is also a victory for [Burundi’s ruling party] CNDD-FDD, because this new leader will know the real situation in Burundi, » the party’s secretary-general Evariste Ndayishimiye said.
« The government of South Sudan will work hand in hand with the administration of the Republican elected president, » said Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for the presidency.