Africa and the future of geopolitics

We live in an age where geopolitics is again an everyday issue. Even in quiet Australia, we’re grappling with the consequences of great power politics thanks to our own trade war with China. While the main stars – China, the US, the EU – are familiar, the global cast is actually far larger.

Adam Tooze’s latest newsletter introduces us to some of the future geopolitical players in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular Nigeria. If like me, your understanding of Africa is limited, I highly recommend reading it.

If I had one gripe, its with the ‘demographic determinism’ that lurks here. African countries will experience the bulk of population growth this century, so the argument goes, giving them more geopolitical significance.

It seems reasonable that three or four hundred million people create a concomitant kind of economic and political heft, but it also seems plausible they act as anchors – at least in the medium term. We need to interrogate how exactly rapid population growth translates one into a geopolitical power (or prey).

Do check it out.

2 thoughts on “Africa and the future of geopolitics

  1. That’s not going to happen. The world cannot support that many people. We are already pushing beyond biophysical limits as it is. If you map population growth against agricultural production and also take into account other factors such as aquifer depletion (India may run out of groundwater soon which supplies 70% of their agricultural water), soil loss, desertification, increasing climate variability with climate change, and sea level rise, it seems clear that agricultural production will not be able to keep up. Then there’s all the other resources that people need too.


    1. On the issue of agriculture and population I remain firmly un-Malthusian. I agree completely that certain consumption and production habits are unsustainable but we’ve shown remarkable ability to adapt with better technology and lifestyle changes. Dutch agriculture comes to mind. None of this is to suggest this would be easy, but I do not think we are doomed.


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