Imperialism and the Militarization of Africa

Karen Helveg Petersen

Africa is host to multiple interventions by major powers. The US, EU (France), China, Russia, UK, India and Arab states compete for influence through investment and aid, market access and lenient borrowing terms. In addition, military cooperation is augmented by covert operations. The present militarization of Africa is articulated through old-fashioned and new-fangled imperialism but also as an expansion of domestic military forces that have played a strong political role throughout the post-colonial era. This is examined through, 1. Outside interference in internal conflicts, 2. Peacekeeping and conflict resolution, 3. African military expenditures, 4. Outside military assistance and bases, 5. Military suppliers and arms trade, 6. Private military companies, and 7. Alliances and affiliations.

The paper tallies military resource deployment by the different parties. If militarization is going on, is it then due to domestically increased expenditures or outside assistance or interventions?

The face-off between Western and other external powers reflects the renewed recognition of Africa’s importance. Increasingly, African countries fight for their own cause but are hampered in reclaiming full autonomy by the perpetuation of their heavy debt burden.

This calls for a new determination of ‘imperialism’ as a conflictual and contradictory struggle about power and self-determination.

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