African Nations Are Anxious To Be Part of the New Silk Road
May 30, 2016 (EIRNS)—"African countries bid for ‘anchor points’ in China’s billion-dollar Silk Road plan—it could set off ’mini battles,’" is the headline on an article in the May 29 Mail & Guardian Africa.
The lead is the current state visit of Togo President Faure Gnassingbé to Beijing, where he was interviewed by Xinhua. With him is a 30-man business delegation. "Togo intends to be the anchor point in West Africa for the New Silk Road initiative," he said. It "posses[es] many advantages to serve as a gateway, including its geography." China has been building infrastructure in Togo over the past decade, the article reports, including roads and rail and ports. Gnassingbe said that he wants to strengthen the bilateral relationship. Recently the government stated support for China’s claims in the South China Sea.
Other African countries are also interested. In December, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI said,
Given its geographical location, the Kingdom of Morocco could play a constructive role in extending the Maritime Silk Road, not only to ‘Atlantic Europe,’ but also and especially to West African nations, with whom my country has multi-dimensional ties."
Recently, Cameroon President Paul Biya described his nation as the strategic crossroads between West and Central Africa, with potential Maritime Silk Road participation. Cameroon’s new Kribi deepwater port is being built by China, and there are at least five ports on the western African coast that are considered strategic in the Belt and Road plan, in Tunisia, Senegal, Gabon, and Ghana, among others.