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Competition for African Resources and the role of external actors.

External actors, including emerging powers, compete over critical, strategic and scarce resources found on the African Continent.

Africa - Security & Conflict, Socio Economic - Format: PDF - Size: 1.22 MB - Date: Oct, 2019 - Pages: - Copyright: NATO Strategic Direction South HUB - Tags: Economy, Natural resources, Energy security

The purpose of this document is to highlight why some resources in Africa are to be considered critical from the point of view of certain external actors and how this criticality may increase competition, thereby having a significant effect on the continent as a whole.

Both global and regional actors are involved in numerous areas of competition, especially since emerging powers are becoming increasingly assertive. The economic war between the US and China, the technological competition between China, the US, the EU, Japan, etc.1and the geopolitical rivalry in the Arab Gulf are all examples of competitive arenas where resources play a principal role.

The continent of Africa has a multitude of resources and competition for them is extremely complicated. Many external actors are often very interested in one or more resource. In some cases the need is critical, made even more intense when several external actors each have critical needs. Often the resources are strategic for several external actors and are at the same time limited. Although competition may exist for any resource subject to commercialization, the intensity will greatly increase if several actors are involved in the competition over a critical, strategic and scarce resource..


Many resources have become more strategic over the last few decades or are currently increasing rapidly in strategic importance. These raw materials are related to the following sectors: Energy (hydrocarbon and nuclear sources), Industrial Minerals (especially those related to the advanced technology industry) and Land and Food (especially arable land which is scarce in neighboring regions). It must be noted however, that of the numerous actors competing for African resources, from global powers to private companies, not all are equally relevant and not all are involved in the same competition over the same raw materials. These actors are contemporaneously involved in geopolitical, economic or technological struggles among themselves. Connecting these rivalries with the criticality of some raw materials, it may also be concluded that competition over certain resources transcend a purely economic domain and has a component in the more complex geopolitical system.

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