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National security adviser John Bolton speaks about the administration's Africa policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 13. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Last week, the Trump administration unveiled its new Africa strategy, prioritizing deeper economic ties, counterterrorism and the efficient use of U.S. aid. The strategy aims to counter Chinese and Russian interests on the continent, especially the former’s strategic use of debt to control African countries.

Why it matters: The strategy oversimplifies Africa’s debt situation. It fails to distinguish between good and bad debt and doesn’t address Africa’s debt levels on a country-by-country basis. This polarizing approach could alienate key potential African allies, leading them to further align with China.

Reality check:

  • Chinese debt is not driving the vast majority of African countries’ indebtedness. Only 8 out of 68 countries in the world are potentially facing unsustainable debt levels because of Belt and Road Initiative projects. In Africa, only Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya fall into this category.
  • Not all debt is created equal. Good debt fosters economic growth, thereby increasing the ability of African governments to repay their creditors. Spending to improve Africa’s poor infrastructure, for example, can be a good use of Chinese debt, as it drives future economic growth. Sub-Saharan Africa’s road and rail networks are some of the least developed in the world, and the region’s GDP per capita could increase by 1.7% if the quantity and quality of its infrastructure reached those of the world's median.

The bottom line: An effective development-oriented policy from the U.S. will require a more nuanced discussion of Africa’s debt and a recognition of the growth returns on infrastructure investment.

Paulo Gomes is the founder of Constelor Investment and a co-founder of New African Capital Partners.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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