All eyes are on the developments in the Middle East as Israeli airstrikes intensified this past week after Hamas’s 7 October attack. Negotiations allowed for the entry of aid into Gaza, however, things are far from settled, as speculation about a regional escalation of the conflict seems to be high.
For now, let’s shift our focus closer to home.
The GCC seems to be on a roll with engagements that can enable the region to establish its diplomatic and economic footprint across regions, free from the shackles of the US-China supremacy race.
The UAE’s DP World has signed an agreement to modernise Tanzania’s Dar Es Salaam port with an initial investment of $250mn.
This could increase to $1bn to build a special economic zone, temperature-controlled storage for the agricultural sector, faster cargo, and increased rail links across the country. DP World operates across 75 countries globally, giving it a large stake in global transport and logistics. Tanzania is the 8th country in Africa to join DP World’s network. Not only can this enhance the UAE’s influence across the continent, but also improve employment and access to products and services across the region. Economic growth all around.
Elsewhere in Africa, exciting political developments took place in Liberia where the Presidential race saw the tightest battle between candidates since the end of the Civil War. Incumbent George Weah runs for a second term, amidst mixed public opinion. As he emerges from a term where internal corruption and economic mismanagement were prevalent, come November, the second round of votes will be worth watching. In the year that witnessed two dramatic coups in Niger and Gabon, the outcome of democratic elections in Africa might well be a positive development.
Africa is not the only region where the GCC is embedding itself firmly. The group is now a formal member of ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, aimed at increased collaboration among member states towards greener and more digitally attuned economies. The latest summit from last week held in Riyadh promised greater cooperation among member states in politics, security, trade, food security, and energy amongst other sectors.
So, while the US and China seem to be focused on military influence in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the GCC, which is a hot spot of alliances for both states, has found economic footing outside their sphere of influence.
But things are far from boring on the China-US front. As China develops its homegrown semiconductor technology, it is also about to introduce new regulations for the export of graphite. The next step emerging in the chessboard of superpower rivalries is the weaponization of rare earth materials.