The COVID-19 Pandemic and Major Power Rivalry in Africa

In: The African Review
Muhidin J. Shangwe Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Dar es Salaam P.O. Box 35042, Dar es Salaam Tanzania

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Not immune from the nature of international relations, the COVID-19 pandemic has invoked the polarizing dichotomies of East-West and North-South as attempts to forge a collective response to fight the disease have only attained mixed results. The discourse of Africa being a battleground of competing foreign interests has consequently emerged. These foreign interests are mainly expressed in terms of economic, security and political benefits. While the pandemic has not changed the motives of competition, it has contributed to new forms of rivalry in what has become to be known as ‘coronavirus diplomacy.’ This paper reveals that the pandemic is being used to advance political, economic and strategic interests. It thus divulges that, efforts by major powers to help African countries deal with the disease, while appreciated, are not entirely benign. At the heart of such efforts are the “fixed universals” inherent in the realist tradition i.e., state, interest and power.

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