As President Obama gets ready to make his first trip to Ghana this July, one cannot help but wonder how he will be received. Of course quite warmly, I imagine, especially in light of his Kenyan roots, but it will be quite curious to see how - if at all - China's growing influence on the continent has shifted African perceptions of American assistance. Bear in mind that this trip will be Obama's first to sub-Saharan Africa (and during his 8 years as President, Bush II visited the continent only twice); Chinese President Hu has visited 15 sub-Saharan states since 2004. And I needn't remind you of the litany of recent Chinese investments in the continent, dubious though some of them may be.
The question of U.S. versus Chinese influence in Africa is brought home quite nicely by Ken Maguire. In his article today, Maguire expounds on this battle of authorities, if you will, ultimately concluding that the U.S.-China relationship in Africa can be cooperative. There is no denying that it can't; the question, I feel is much more one of degrees. Obama's upcoming trip may indeed prove quite central in shedding light on this issue, along with countless others.