The Impact of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Reported Death on Wagner’s Mission in Africa

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group of mercenaries, was purportedly killed in a plane crash in Russia just days after releasing a video declaring his mission to make Russia greater and Africa freer. This news has raised questions about the future of Wagner’s activities in Africa and the impact it will have on the continent. Many African governments see Prigozhin’s reported death as a relief, as his presence and the use of foreign mercenaries are viewed as a reminder of a painful past during the Cold War when mercenaries were regularly employed to influence civil wars and violence. While Prigozhin’s supporters argue that he was similar to British imperialist Cecil Rhodes, seeking fortune and making contracts for valuable resources, critics argue that Wagner’s presence in Africa is built on blood and treasure, with contracts exchanged for military support. Wagner’s presence in Africa is not unique, as there have been other private military companies (PMCs) active on the continent in the past. Wagner’s success has varied depending on the client and contract, with its greatest military success being foiling a coup in the Central African Republic and its greatest failure being its withdrawal from Mozambique after a friendly fire incident. Wagner has also faced allegations of human rights abuses and has been involved in spreading fake news and anti-Western sentiment in West Africa. Although Wagner’s activities have provoked criticism from the region and the African Union, the group continues to seek expansion in countries like Burkina Faso. African leaders are now called upon to implement African solutions to African problems, strengthen security forces, and reject the use of mercenaries. While the Kremlin may try to take over Wagner’s operations, its ability to attract new clients will be challenging. This presents an opportunity for African governments to implement their conventions and build credible and accountable security forces for the continent’s stability and development.