The Dec. 14 news article “Bolton says ‘predatory’ China is outpacing U.S. in Africa” made clear that there is a new scramble for Africa underway. The United States, China, Russia, key European countries, Japan, India, Brazil, Turkey and even some energy-rich Gulf countries are sniffing out commercial opportunities and snarling at each other as they seek as big a piece of the pie as they possibly can get.

To counter China’s economic and military leverage in Africa, the United States should turn its new, disjointed strategy into a coherent one that adds differential, not confrontational, value in a way that supports the U.S. economy. Reduced budgets for foreign aid, defense and humanitarian assistance can be leveraged through appropriate context-specific investments that would ensure a positive and measurable impact that offsets the social costs of Chinese investments.

To do business with — not just in — Africa requires supporting private-sector investment beyond just paying lip service to small U.S. businesses. Small businesses can provide “out-of-the-box” solutions that go beyond the usual asset-seeking thinking. They create inclusive market gateways through catalytic investments that better and more fully comprehend Africa’s market and competitive realities.

Astrid Ruiz, Manassas