The New Scramble For Africa by Pádraig Carmody

The Blurb On The Back:

Once marginalized in the world economy, Africa today is a major global supplier of crucial raw materials like oil, uranium and coltan.  China’s part in this story has loomed particularly large in recent years, and the American military footprint on the continent has also expanded.  But a new scramble for resources, markets and territory is now taking place in Africa, involving not just state, but non-state actors, including Islamic fundamentalist and other rebel groups.

The second edition of Pádraig Carmody’s popular book explores the duamics of the new scramble for African resources, markets and territory, and the impact of current investment and competition on people, the environment, and political and economic development on the continent.  Fully revised and updated throughout its chapters explore old and new economic power interest in Africa; oil, minerals, timber, biofuels, land, food and fisheries; and the nature and impacts of Asian and South African investment in manufacturing and other sectors.

The New Scramble For Africa will be essential reading for students of African studies, international relations and resource politics, as well as anyone interested in current affairs.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Pádraig Carmody is Associate Professor in Geography at Trinity College, Dublin and a Visiting Associate Professor in Geography, Environmental Management and Energy at the University of Johannesburg and in this second edition of his book that’s quite academically written and at times repetitive in its themes but nonetheless interesting and informative, he examines the modern political scramble for Africa’s natural resources, the reasons for Africa’s strategic importance and what it means for Africa’s future.

The book is divided into 10 chapters (with 3 chapters co-written by Carmody with Ian Taylor, David Taylor and Godfrey Hampwaye) and each chapter picks up on some of the themes or ideas in the chapter before while also focusing on a specific resource (e.g. oil, land, uranium, timber etc). Although that did mean some repetition in the main themes of the book (e.g. the way in which Chinese interests seek to work with the existing African elites because they are not so driven by the desire to liberalise) I didn’t mind that so much because it helped to reinforce the main arguments.  I did find the writing to be quite academic though – especially the early chapters which seek to contextualise the modern scramble for Africa against its history (although I did find a lot in there that I hadn’t previously known in terms of western exploitation of Africa and its resources).

For me the most interesting chapters were those that focused on both China’s and France’s links and interests in Africa – especially in the context of mining where I found the attempts by some nations to renegotiate or improve deals following internal unrest at Chinese operations to be particularly fascinating.  The chapters that examined France’s history in the region were also fascinating – mainly because there was a lot there that I hadn’t previously known and it helped to contextualise recent events for me and understand recent international policy.

Ultimately I found that this was a really interesting read that told me a lot about the region and made me think more closely about the international and economic interests operating there.  On that basis, I think that it’s well worth checking out.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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