Red Alert | Last Battle for Africa. Why has former colonisers refused to loosen their grip on Africa?

Africa, a continent with enormous wealth and a fast-growing population, is struggling with the economic and social consequences of its colonial past. Having lost some 100 million people during the slave trade era, it’s still suffering from exploitation inflicted by foreign governments and wealthy corporations. Recently, Russia has shown a keen interest in re-establishing a once-close relationship with its African friends. Over the past few years, cooperation in the field of education, healthcare and security has gained traction in the Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and other countries. The West, whose influence is noticeably waning, can’t help but blame Russia for the shifting tide of cooperation with Africa.

Anna Chapman travels to Africa to shed some light on the history of Russian-African relations that dates back to the 19th century, and find out why Russia’s renewed interest in the continent is triggering concerns, both in Europe and the United States. Unlike European monarchies, the Russian Empire was never part of the so-called “scramble for Africa” or made any attempt to establish colonies there. On the contrary, it helped Emperor Menelik’s army to fight off Italian invaders, ensuring Ethiopia’s independence. Subsequently, in the 20th century, when many African nations fought for their independence, the USSR acted as a staunch supporter of decolonization.

Why has the struggle for influence over Africa intensified now? That’s because Africa will clearly assume a greater role and importance in the multipolar world of the future, with only 20 percent of its resources explored and its population projected to double by 2050. These days, African countries are trying to build new alliances in the hope of escaping the vicious cycles of violence, poverty and social unrest. And Russia is there to help them achieve their goals.