Sub-Saharan Africa’s foreign counterparts are forging closer partnerships with the region because they see new openings for trade and investment, as well as growing threats from terrorism, criminality, epidemics, and irregular migration. Just like China, these countries believe that Africa is increasingly important to a wide range of economic, security, and political goals.
This uptick in engagement represents a sea change in Africa's foreign relations. While many of these countries—including China and the Gulf States—have been involved in the region for decades, the sheer number of countries and significant influx of resources have reshaped the landscape.
The United States paradoxically is stepping away from the region while the rest of the world is leaning in. This shrinking posture not only forgoes opportunities for U.S. trade and investment, it also precludes the United States from shaping outcomes in the region—and beyond.