The 19th century saw an epic struggle between competing European powers to divvy up Africa for colonies.
Now a similar struggle for Africa is underway, but the main competitors are the U.S. and China, and the two are competing for the Dark Continent's energy and other natural resource reserves.
The tussle will define the next decade as the two energy-starved superpowers wrestle over Africa's nascent energy riches, which have remained significantly underdeveloped up to now. Drawing a rough bifurcation line between the two competitors, China is ascendant in east Africa, while the U.S. dominates energy exports from the west, with the Arab Magreb (including Libya) up for grabs. At a number of points the fault lines will overlap.
By 2013 African oil production is projected to rise to 10.7-11.4 million barrels per day (bpd), and by 2018 to 12.4-14.5 million bpd. The U.S. is currently Nigeria's biggest oil importer, and the National Intelligence Council predicts that American imports from the Gulf of Guinea will increase to more than 25 percent of all U.S. imports by 2015.
The United States currently imports about 11.3 million barrels per day (bpd); the remaining 7.5 million bpd are produced domestically. America's top 15 oil importers include, according to February U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics, Saudi Arabia (1.1 million bpd), Nigeria (958,000 bpd), Angola (323,00 bpd), Algeria (264,000 bpd), Equatorial Guinea (41,000 bpd) and Chad (53,000…