V-1. Africa in a Polycentric World

Convener: Tatiana L. Deych (Institute for African Studies, Moscow, Russia); e-mail: tdeich@yandex.ru

The role and influence of Africa in contemporary world have increased. Africa becomes a full-fledged actor in global politics. African countries are involved in decision-making on international issues. The independence of African foreign policy is growing, its priorities are restructuring. This process resulted in profound geopolitical and geo-economic shifts. The leadership of the Western countries tends to lessen. African foreign policy vector shifts to the East. In the 2000s, emerging countries made a breakthrough on the continent. The new partnership permitted African countries to reduce reticence on Euro-Atlantic vector, to empower their participation in world economic ties and global politics. BRICS, other emerging countries become the locomotive of Africa development. Cooperation with them fosters economic growth, creates the possibilities to realize the national projects in infrastructure, healthcare, education, science. China is the most active in Africa. Contrary to predictions about the decline of cooperation with Africa in terms of a slowdown in China, Beijing pledges itself new commitments. The new strategy of the Chinese-African partnership foresees the growth of financial aid and investment; focus on African infrastructure, new technologies, human resources development. In conditions of fierce competition with traditional and new players Russia managed to keep the potential for cooperation with Africa. The aggravation of Russia relations with the Euro-Atlantic community increases the importance of Russia-Africa cooperation. The urgent task is building equitable and long-term partnership with Africa. Challenges and threats are the obstacles to Africa development. In recent years, the number of African conflicts decreased, but they became more prolonged and bloody. The conflicts in DRC, Darfur and southern Sudan received the regional dimension and are difficult to resolve. A terrorist threat has acquired truly planetary scale. Regionalization of modern terrorism has found a vivid manifestation in the cross-border phenomenon – the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant – ISIS, later self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; banned in Russia). Terrorist groups in African countries adjoin to IS. Only in 2016 Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Somali, Uganda have become the targets of terrorist attacks. An important issue concerning African security is migration. Mass influx of refugees to the EU has demonstrated the crisis of Western migration policy. Conflicts and terrorist threats cause displacement of large masses of the population. At the same time refugees and migrants are the breeding ground for recruitment members to rebel groups and terrorist organizations. The UN, whose peacekeeping missions involved in African conflicts resolving, contributes to security problems decision. Africa’s development and security occupy an important place in the African Union’s policy. The panel will focus on the problems: Africa’ role and influence in world politics and economics; new partners of Africa; the influence of BRICS and other ‘emerging’ countries on economic and political renewal in Africa; challenges and threats to Africa: conflicts, terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, international migration, climate changes; changes in Western countries’ African policies; Russian-African relations, the African Union and regional organizations; Africa and the UN.