China plans to broaden its engagement across the continent in 2019 with a particular focus on East Africa. This is according to RiskMap 2019, a report forecasting political and security risk for business leaders and policy makers across the world. The report was compiled by specialist global risk consultancy, Control Risks.
The analysis says early signs suggest that an ongoing United States-China rivalry will find its way to the African continent in the coming year. The US has warned African governments about the threat of Chinese debt-fuelled spending for economic stability.
“So far, the US-China rivalry that dominated global headlines in 2018 has played out less visibly in Africa than on other continents,” explained Daniel Heal, the organisation’s Senior Partner for East Africa based in Nairobi.
In a statement issued this week, Heal added that support for China or the US has not emerged as a defining issue in African politics, with most countries keen to pursue closer ties and seek financing from both sides rather than falling neatly on one camp.
“In 2019 we might see this changing. While still the largest investor on the continent, the US has seen its engagement on the continent become more narrowly focused on security matters under the current administration, in contrast to China which has made formidable inroads in sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade,” he continued.
Heal stated that 2019 will show revived US interest in development finance and lending for infrastructure projects on the continent and a more concerted US commercial strategy towards Africa is likely to take shape. He believes that the increased rivalry will therefore open up additional investment opportunities but will also present African countries with increasingly starker foreign policy and commercial choices.
The report further warns that the US-China trade confrontation will define global geopolitics in 2019. Friction between these two nations will complicate business not only for those European businesses operating in both countries but also for those with connections several times removed.
The stand-off between the three major data regulation ideologies will present a new level of risk for international business in 2019. For China, data is something to be controlled; for the EU, it is something to be protected; for the US, it is something to be commercialised.
“Businesses must be prepared for the challenge of collecting, storing and transferring data within and between these three domains against a backdrop of inconsistent enforcement and escalating cyber security threats,” the report concluded.