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High Stakes in Africa: Can the U.S. Catch China?

After two decades of policy focus, China has big advantages. But the U.S. still has ways to get in on the Africa game
High Stakes in Africa: Can the U.S. Catch China?
Illustration by 731

To be attentive to history is to be on the lookout for pivotal moments, and in the geopolitics surrounding Africa, the 1990s stand out as a hugely pivotal time.

With the Cold War scarcely over, the West turned its attention away from the continent, largely defining its problems as humanitarian issues, which are traditionally the lowest station of foreign policy priorities. Western Europe, which had colonized Africa decades earlier, reoriented its focus to Eastern Europe, attracted by what it saw as large, capital-starved markets with well-educated workers who would nonetheless be satisfied being paid bargain-basement wages by the standards of that continent.