The latest round of foreign power competition in Africa has arrived in Kenya, by rail. In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, global powers provide investment and military support. But these factors alone do not adequately explain the competition that arises, and how it affects the strategic considerations of both foreign powers and African states. What does it look like when global heavyweights like China, Russia and the United States project their power into Africa – and what ability do other actors have to stop them? A contract in Kenya may shed some light on the strategic implications of how and where foreign competition unfolds in Africa, particularly as competition in the periphery increases.
In overseas investment, China has shown a tendency to exploit its lending ability by negotiating onerous loan terms to desperate borrowers. The latest example of this trend is in Kenya, where China made a loan for the construction of a railway connecting the port of Mombasa to Nairobi. T