US loses its place as most influential power in Africa to China


Since 2022, Moscow’s image in Africa has improved even more than China’s. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it lost significant support across the continent, as it did across the rest of the world. But now that more than two years have passed since the war began, Moscow’s image has recovered. 

Median approval of Russian leadership now stands at 42%, up from 34% the previous year. It has not been higher since 2012 (47%).

Russia has seen double-digit increases in eight countries and equivalent decreases in just two: Uganda (-16 points) and Gambia (-11 points). But support remains strongest in countries in the Sahel, where Russia has a significant military presence through its mercenary Wagner Group, including Mali (89%), Burkina Faso (81%) and Chad (76%). In these three countries, Russia is the dominant power in terms of leadership approval ratings.

Major global powers have increasingly shifted their focus to Africa in recent years, albeit for different reasons. 

Last year, the playing field changed. The United States’ slight drop in approval plus China’s gains have placed the latter’s ratings slightly above its Western rival’s. But in the grand scheme of things, median approval ratings of Washington, Beijing and Berlin are closely contested across much of the continent.

The biggest change, however, was in perceptions of Russia. Although much of the world continues to view President Vladimir Putin and Russian leadership with disdain, Moscow’s popularity in Africa rose in 2023, recouping its losses after the invasion of Ukraine.

As Africa’s young population continues to grow, and with its importance on the global stage unlikely to wane, questions remain over whose approach to foreign policy in Africa will prove most effective at winning the hearts of its people in coming years.-Gallup



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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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