An offensive realism approach to navigate the changing dynamics of summit-level dialogue between the AU and great powers


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This paper examines the changing dynamics of summit-level dialogue between the African Union and the Great Powers, using offensive realism as a theoretical lens. A qualitative approach with an in-depth literature review was developed. The findings indicate that there is a power transition tendency in Africa towards a bipolar arrangement. Moreover, the findings show that the ongoing great power competition in Africa is motivated by a clash of national interests as they all feel that Africa will play an important role in their quest for global primacy. China’s partnership success under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation compels the United States to consider a foreign policy shift towards Africa, resulting in the US aid syndrome mentality towards Africa being recently replaced by improved trade and investment agreements. The competition, however, favoured Africa, as these great powers embraced the African Union’s claim to join the G20 to avoid losing Africa in their race to global influence. However, some of the summits exposed several African countries to economic difficulties and debt traps because of their inadequate bargaining leverage with lenders, either individually or collectively. From this perspective, one could argue that the ongoing great powers summit under the auspices of the African Union may produce a zero-sum outcome unless the current weak bargaining power is improved, thereby posing a sovereignty threat to many debt-burdened African countries, as some lenders are merciless in dominating key economic sectors if debts are not repaid on time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2306706
JournalCogent Social Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • African Union
  • competition
  • great powers summit
  • regional hegemony
  • offensive realism
  • Africa Union
  • great powers summits
  • Robert Read, Economics, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK
  • International Politics; International Relations; Security Studies - Pol & Intl Relns


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