Additional Reading on External Actors in Africa

(See more recent readings on this topic here.)

Army of Fake Fans Boosts China’s Messaging on Twitter

By Erika Kinetz, Associated Press, May 12, 2021

Chinese officials around the world use Twitter and Facebook, which are blocked in China, to post about their country’s initiatives and defend it against controversy. But the seeming popularity of many accounts, which the Communist Party controls and whose content is sourced from state-run media, and of their posts is artificially inflated by fake accounts that retweet posts thousands of times. These retweets violate Twitter rules on manipulation, leading to a high rate of account suspensions. Improving the labeling of government accounts to better indicate the likelihood of content being propaganda and helping social media implement their own rules will be key to mitigating these strategies.

Russia and Africa: Expanding Influence and Instability

By Joseph Siegle, in Russia’s Global Reach: A Security and Statecraft Assessment (Marshall Center), April 30, 2021

The main tools Russia relies on to assert influence on the continent—mercenaries, arms for resource deals, coopting and sustaining friendly leaders, and disinformation—are inherently destabilizing. While opportunistic, this approach provides Russia an opening to secure port access in the eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea while undermining democratic norms in the region, advancing the Kremlin’s geostrategic interests.

Turkey and the New Scramble for Africa: Ottoman Designs or Unfounded Fears?

By Zach Vertin, May 19, 2019

Turkey has become increasingly prominent in Africa affairs since the “Open to Africa” policy began in 2005. Focused in the Horn of Africa and on political and economic engagements, Turkey’s role should not be discounted. Bilateral engagements with Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, and Ethiopia include airline routes, schools, mosques, and commercial investment. Turkish engagement in the Horn of Africa can best be understood in light of its shifting domestic situation and the Erdogan government’s desire to project influence outside of the Middle East.

A Review of Major Regional Security Efforts in the Sahel

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, March 4, 2019

Increased attacks from militant Islamist groups in the Sahel coupled with cross-border challenges such as trafficking, migration, and displacement have prompted a series of regional and international security responses. [Infographic]

Chinese Hard Power Supports Its Growing Strategic Interests in Africa

By Paul Nantulya, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, January 17, 2019

China’s growing military engagement in Africa is aimed at advancing Beijing’s economic and strategic interests, in particular its Belt and Road Initiative.

Grand Strategy and China’s Soft Power Push in Africa

By Paul Nantulya, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, August 30, 2018

China is doubling down on its soft power initiatives in Africa as part of China’s Grand Strategy to tap emerging markets, shape global governance norms, and expand its influence.

How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port

By Maria Abi-Habib, New York Times, July 2, 2018

China’s infrastructure deals are ubiquitous across Africa. The motivations behind these deals vary, however. This investigative report details how China leveraged the indebtedness of Sri Lanka to effectively force it to cede a port to China. The experience has implications for the debt trap many African countries face, especially with China, as well as for China’s interest in acquiring strategic assets in Africa, military and intelligence interests in China’s commercial activity, oversight over major infrastructure and natural resource contracts including China’s Belt and Road Initiative on the continent, Chinese influence in foreign elections, and risks to African sovereignty.

Security Topics:  External Actors in Africa