We have been vociferously following the 'battle for Africa' - the last untapped Keynesian credit growth economic region of the world - for a few years. One common theme has emerged China and the US are aggressively chasing down 'assets' - especially in the equatorial region. However, as the following two charts indicate, the two nations are engaged in very difference tactics for that 'takeover' - China's investment versus US brute force and military intimidation (and fake vaccination programs).
Africa is huge...
While those in the power and money echelons of the "developed" world scramble day after day to hold the pieces of the collapsing tower of cards in place (and manipulating public perception that all is well), knowing full well what the final outcome eventually will be, those who still have the capacity to look, and invest, in the future, are looking neither toward the US, nor Asia, and certainly not Europe, for one simple reason: there is no more incremental debt capacity at any level: sovereign, household, financial or corporate. Because without the ability to create debt out of thin air, be it on a secured or unsecured basis, the ability to "create" growth, at least in the current Keynesian paradigm, goes away with it.
Yet there is one place where there is untapped credit creation potential, if not on an unsecured (i.e., future cash flow discounting), then certainly on a secured (hard asset collateral) basis. The place is Africa, and according to some estimates the continent, Africa can create between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral.
But the two major combatants for power over Africa - China and the US - appear to have very different approaches...
China - via Investment...
As Stratfor explains:
In late July, Beijing hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged up to $20 billion to African countries over the next three years. China has proposed or committed about $101 billion to commercial projects in Africa since 2010, some of which are under negotiation while others are currently under way. Together, construction and natural resource deals total approximately $90 billion, or about 90 percent of Chinese commercial activity in Africa since 2010. These figures could be even higher because of an additional $7.5 billion in unspecified commitments to South Africa and Zambia, likely intended for mining projects. Of the remaining $3 billion in Chinese commercial commitments to Africa, about $2.1 billion will be used on local manufacturing projects.
While China has proposed $750 million for agriculture and general development aid and about $50 million to support small- and medium-sized business development in addition to the aforementioned projects, it has been criticized for the extractive nature of its relationship with many African countries, as well as the poor quality of some of its construction work. However, since many African countries lack the indigenous engineering capability to construct these large-scale projects or the capital to undertake them, African governments with limited resources welcome Chinese investments enthusiastically. These foreign investment projects are also a boon for Beijing, since China needs African resources to sustain its domestic economy, and the projects in Africa provide a destination for excess Chinese labor.
and The USA - by brute force and intimidation
President Obama's announcement that United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad came as a surprise to many. But as my colleague The Washington Post points out, the United States already has boots on the ground in a surprising number of African countries.
This map shows what sub-Saharan nations currently have a U.S. military presence engaged in actual military operations.
It should be noted that in most of these countries, there is a pretty small number of troops. But it is a clear sign of the U.S. Africa Command's increasingly broad position on the continent in what could be described as a growing shadow war against al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups.
It also shows an increasingly blurred line between U.S. military operations and the CIA in Africa.