Think You Know African Diplomacy? Test Your Wits Against These 15 Facts

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Think You Know African Diplomacy? Test Your Wits Against These 15 Facts
Zimbabwe has adopted a look east policy in recent years

AFRICANGLOBE – The new very Republican-dominated and led House voted Tuesday to extend a special committee’s investigation into the deadly September 2012 attacks by terrorists on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including US ambassador Chris Stevens.

Democrats in Congress alleged it was partisan American political play to reauthorize the politically charged panel, as the committees could last well into the 2016 presidential election year. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was Secretary of State when the attack happened, and viewed by analysts as a shoo-in should she run as Democratic presidential candidate, could be called to testify about the attack, and Republicans could then beat her over the head with the incident and damage her electorally.

For Africa, the death of Stevens was rare—diplomats are generally treated like kings and queens in the continent, and rarely beaten, killed, or even expelled. Stevens was the eighth American ambassador to be killed abroad, and only the second in Africa since Cleo Noel in Khartoum on March 2, 1973, in an attack by the Palestinian Black September militant group.

That being the case, which African country has broken off relations with outside powers the most? Which G20 leaders are yet to visit the continent? Why did Israel upset Kenya and Uganda? Read on to find out…

1. Is there an industrialised nation whose sitting leader has never toured Africa on a state visit?

‘Industrialised’ depends on who is using it, and captures many facets of global development. It is a relative measure (some countries are even classified as post-industrial), but commonly used indicators are GDP, GNP, per capita income, and Human Development Index (HDI).

The G20 is a pretty good measure of industrialisation. The members of this club have every reason to visit Africa—the international political economy demands it. You have to protect your resource sources, and ringfence your markets while managing choppy relations in between.

Of the current leaders of G20 economies, only those of India, Indonesia, Sweden and South Korea are yet to visit Africa.

In their defence, Sweden’s Stefan Löfven and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo have only been in office since October 2014. India’s Narendra Modi too. He has been in office since May 2014.

Going back, since King Faisal’s visit to Africa in 1972, no other Saudi Arabian leader—known in the oil-rich kingdom as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques— has ventured north of the Maghreb and Egypt.

2. Which leaders of a major power have visited Africa most?

Of the Security Council members— the US, France, China, Russia and the UK, French presidents have made the most visits to Africa—they seem to almost always be around. Of the generally more aloof American presidents, Bill Clinton visited the most African nations— eight. He was renown for travelling with everything bar the proverbial kitchen sink—his entourages numbered in the hundreds. Some 1,300 were involved in his 11-day trip to Africa, excluding security officers.

Former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also chalked up the frequent-flyer miles on the Africa route, visiting at least 25 different countries in the region in over ten trips.

3. Which major political or economic power have leading African presidents never visited?

Leaders like South Africa’s Jacob Zuma are joined at the hip with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economic bloc leaders, and cannot avoid each other, but other key African leaders such as Goodluck Jonathan are yet to visit Russia.  Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos also suffers from major travel sickness—he has not been to the UK since 1992, and was last in India in 1987.

4. When did an Israel leader last visit Africa?

You would have to go back to June 1987 when Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir visited the region,  stopping by a number of countries in West Africa. Incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu in early 2012 scrapped plans to visit Kenya and Uganda in favour of a jaunt to Washington, despite having personally initiated the plan, leaving a lot of red-faced Israeli diplomats and many African foreign ministry officials upset.

5. New frontiers

Despite flourishing energy—and historical— ties, Matteo Renzi’s July 2014 visit was the first ever by an Italian head of state to Mozambique, despite Italian leaders and diplomats having been instrumental in the mediation that led to the signing of Mozambique’s all-important peace treaty in Rome.

Dmitry Medvedev’s June 2009 visits to Nigeria and Namibia were also the first by a Russian leader to those countries. He was at the time Russian president.

6. When did a Canadian and Australian prime minister last visit?

The two countries do not have Africa in their immediate geopolitical spheres, but have been active with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper having so far clocked two visits to Africa, the latest being to Senegal and DR Congo in October 2012.  Australia has been more uptight—premier Tony Abbot has so far visited the region once—to attend the burial of Nelson Mandela, even as Australian investment in Africa is estimated at $50 billion.

7. How many African leaders have had dinner with the Queen of England?

Formal state visits to the United Kingdom are tightly managed—usually two a year. Since 1954 only 15 African countries have been treated to dinner with the Queen, including Messrs. Robert Mugabe, Mobutu Sese Seko and Daniel Arap Moi.  Only two countries—Nigeria and South Africa—have been feted more than once.

8. How many sitting Japanese leaders have visited Africa?

Incumbent Shinzo Abe early 2014 visited Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Ethiopia, the first full-scale visit by a Japanese prime minister in eight years. It is not easy to plan, Japanese premierships are notoriously short-lived. Incidentally Abe was the last prime minister to visit, travelling fleetingly to Egypt in 2007. His predecessor at the time, Junichiro Koizumi in 2006 visited Ethiopia and Ghana.[/sociallocker]


Part Two