Navigating Africa’s Digital Partnerships in a Context of Global Rivalry

CIGI Policy Brief No. 180

October 16, 2023

As African governments focus on developing their digital infrastructures, choosing global partners depends on which one is best able to meet their national digital priorities. But increasing tension between geopolitical rivals and digital powers, such as China and the United States, has made the decision-making process even more complex. As part of the Negotiating Africa’s Digital Partnerships policy research project, African ministers, policy makers and other stakeholders were interviewed to determine how these partnerships are negotiated. The interviews revealed that China has played a major role in Africa’s digital economic development. As a key strategic partner, China offers more affordable options than its Western counterparts through financing backed by Chinese grants and loans that have enabled the development of network infrastructure and internet access across the continent. The policy brief concludes with recommendations on how African governments can get the most from these partnerships.

About the Author

Folashadé Soulé is a CIGI senior fellow and senior research associate at the Global Economic Governance Programme, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.