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What Trump presidency means for Africa

Pretoria, South Africa

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means an uncertain future for Africa. The US spends billions in Africa through aid and investment, but there is uncertainty over what Trump will do, or even how much he knows about the continent.

“Trump has said very little about Africa — I don’t think he knows much about Africa,” said Jakkie Cilliers, chairman of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a think tank in South Africa. “It is just not on his radar — it seems like he will be an insular president focused on US interests — in some sense, isolationist.”

He questioned what it might mean for President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) – which provided millions of people with the drugs to help them fight HIV or the African Growth and Opportunities Act (known as Agoa — a hugely valuable American free trade deal with African countries).

Trump’s bulging in-box

The other key pillar of America’s involvement in Africa is security. The US military footprint has slowly and secretly been spreading across the continent in reaction to radical Islamist militants. There are drone bases and special forces troops watching, and acting against so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked groups across the continent.

How America manages its approach to Africa could have a major impact on stability across the continent. The ISS put out what he called a “tongue-in-cheek” article a day before the vote, asking what a Trump presidency would mean for Africa.

“If Trump implement the foreign policy he campaigned on, he could become the single most-effective recruiting tool for terrorist organisations across the globe,” said Cilliers. But with a shift from aid to investment, isn’t a businessman a good man to have at the helm?

Kenyan tech entrepreneur Mark Kamalu is not convinced. “We have investments in US dollars and the first direct impact is the markets sank and that’s a worry from a business perspective,” he said.

“The rhetoric we have heard, the hard-line stance, the America first nationalism, the volatile and lose language makes everyone who is not white and American wonder where they stand.”

Some will welcome his conservative values on homosexuality and abortion, but there is a lot of uncertainty over what President Trump will mean to Africa. Elected with little by way of policy, the continent will have to wait and see how much of what he said on the campaign trail will translate into action. – BBC

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