When the just outgone US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson visited Nigeria recently, the August visitor arrived in Abuja with warning to African leaders about the dangers of China’s concessional loans to the continent. It seemed rich coming from the top US envoy in an era defined by Donald Trump’s doctrine of “America First”. Indeed, nearly two-third of Africans polled in a recent Afrobarometer survey take a positive view of China in Africa. This is contrary to Mr Tillerson’s call for Africans to be wary. Yet, his intervention should not be lightly dismissed, considering especially recent developments in the African energy sector.
Oladiran (Ola) Bello obtained both his MPhil and PhD degrees in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and also holds a First Class BSc degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He has worked for organisations including the United Nations (New York) and Management Systems International (Washington DC), Merchant International Group (London) and Arthur Andersen (later KPMG). Dr Ola Bello has more than 10 years of experience in research and policy advisory, including on governance and extractive sector reform; sustainable development; and international development cooperation (including in EU-Africa relations). He spent three years with FRIDE (Spain) managing a donor-funded programme on the EU’s role in managing fragility and resource governance in select African countries. In 2012-2015, he was Head, Governance of Africa’s Resource Programme (GARP) at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and also functioned as head of SAIIA’s Cape Town office. Ola is spearheading GGA's technical support to Nigerian reform, including delivering ethics training for senior Nigerian judicial officers and change-makers (2017-2019). He's also working to expand GGA's role as in-country resource centre for multilateral consultative missions to Nigeria's ministries and parastatals. These missions include the UNECA/AU mineral sector governance team.