Today, the new order of the multipolar world is being formed and strengthened. This order is being formed in the context of a series of coalitions in the multipolar world. In this process, the role of Africa and its capacities cannot be denied or overlooked. Without a doubt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as an independent world-level actor, must make necessary efforts and actions, and steps to deepen its strategy and influence in Africa in order to be able to play a role in the new geometry of power in the world.
Africa is a continent with 54 countries and an approximate area of 31 million km2, equivalent to 24% of the earth's surface and an area equivalent to three times that of Europe. Also, this continent, with a population of about one billion and 400 million people, hosts more than 18% of the world's population; according to statistics, this continent is the youngest continent in the world. On the other hand, the population growth trend in this continent is higher than in the rest of the world, which will emerge as a great power soon.
Regarding natural resources, Africa has 30% of natural reserves, 40% of gold, and 90% of chromium and platinum, and the largest reserves of cobalt-diamond-platinum and uranium in the world are in Africa. In addition, Africa accounts for 10 % of freshwater renewable resources, 8 % of natural gas resources, and 12 % of world oil reserves. In addition to agricultural power, the three countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe have many sources of oil, coal, gold, cotton, nickel, platinum, and diamond.
In this regard, Mr. Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, continued his multilateral policies in the field of balanced foreign policy on Wednesday, 2023-7-12, to the three countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe in Africa. This is the first trip of the president of Iran to Africa after 11 years, which is aimed at increasing Iran's presence in the 60 billion dollar economy of the African continent. This trip was able to have positive and significant achievements, among which the following can be mentioned:
- Signing 21 cooperation documents with Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
- Exchanging products such as petrochemical products.
- Importing red meat from Kenya.
- The official start of extraterritorial cultivation in Kampala (Uganda)
Currently, there are many emerging regional and extra-regional powers in Africa. This trend indicates the competition of competing countries in recent years in this continent. Therefore, it is necessary for Iran, in addition to developing political relations with these countries, to play an important role in other fields, including in the exploration, extraction, and exploitation of mines in this continent.
In mining, Iran has several years of experience in exploring and extracting natural resources, which can play an essential role in this field by investing in these countries. Currently, by investing in Latin and South American countries such as Venezuela-Nicaragua, Iran has been able to set up and operate several petrochemical complexes in these countries. Given the appropriate and favorable areas in African countries, this investment can also be made on this continent.
Capacity building to develop Iran's strategic depth in Africa and become a political and economic partner of this continent is a concrete necessity. Also, the increased cultural relations with African countries, whose number of Muslims is currently increasing, can lead to closer Islamic culture of these countries with Iran.
However, the existing political capacities, economic tools, and cultural power and richness can turn the Islamic Republic of Iran into an important partner for the African continent and, reciprocally, highlight Africa's role in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran must make a basic plan from North Africa to sub-Saharan Africa and the south of this continent and the Cape of Good Hope and engage in a strategic partnership with this continent in the light of the African Union. In this planning, by examining the current situation, the following should be addressed:
- Formulating a strategic plan to build capacity to increase Iran's influence and strategic depth in Africa.
- Strengthening the position of Africa in Iran's current foreign policy and the necessity of the Islamic Republic becoming a strategic partner of the African Union.
- Identifying Africa's political, economic, and cultural capacities and ways and solutions to increase the level of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and these countries.
- Capacity building for greater interaction and cooperation, and participation of the Islamic Republic of Iran with African countries in regional and subject institutions and organizations such as the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77, United Nations General Assembly, and other international forums.
Amir Ali Imamjomeh Shahidi, a senior expert at the Institute for Political and International Studies
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)