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A 'Colder War?': Navigating the Challenges of Great Power Competition in Sub-Saharan Africa


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The Cold War and Post-Cold War great power competition superimposed on the structural challenges in sub-Saharan Africa has led to several cascading effects. In both the Cold War and post-Cold War era, sub-Saharan African countries have been uncoordinated in their interactions with great powers in the subregion. The crux of this qualitative study was to track the Cold War and post-Cold War great power competition in the D.R. Congo, Angola, and Zimbabwe in an attempt to understand its trends, characteristics, and challenges in order to distill valuable lessons that could guide sub-Saharan African countries within the competitive landscape of the subregion. The research identified that sub-Saharan African countries faced a strategic dilemma at national birth during the Cold War. This required them to take sides in a global ideological contest that had dire consequences on the future of the nascent states. It resulted in instability and untold hardships. In the contemporary era, the evidence revealed that geo-economics was the main driver and sustainer of the competition. The study recommends an umbrella strategy by the sub-Saharan African countries that lays out parameters for interaction with the great powers. This would ensure a reasonably uniform approach and a greater probability of success in their dealings with great powers.



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