Article from ROAPE Volume 33 Number 108
America, China and the Scramble for Africa's Oil
After decades of Cold War, when Africa was simply viewed as a convenient pawn on the global chessboard, and a further decade of benign neglect in the 1990s, the African continent has now become a vital arena of strategic and geopolitical competition for not only the United States, but also for China, India, and other new emerging powers. The main reason for this is quite simple: Africa is the final frontier as far as the world's supplies of energy are concerned with global competition for both oil and natural gas (particularly the latter) becoming just as intense - if not even more so - than the former.
The factors behind the growing attention to African energy supplies are well known; so we will only summarise them here.1 World oil production is only just meeting world demand and old fields are being drained faster than new production can be brought on line. Supplies will be tight for the foreseeable future, so any new source of supply is significant. Most importers are also trying to reduce their dependence on Middle Eastern oil. In the next 10-15 years, most of the new oil entering the world market is going to be coming from African fields because it is only in Africa - and to a lesser extent in the volatile Central Asia region - that substantial new fields have been found and brought into production.