As Oil reaches $70 a barrel, USA turns to Africa for solution

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (AP) -- Europe's great powers once scrambled for dominance across vast, underdeveloped African lands rich in raw resources, including the scarlet palm oil used to grease the first cogs of the industrial revolution.

A century later, a new group of nations are competing for a different valuable, viscous material, with Sub-Saharan Africa closing in on the Persian Gulf as the prime overseas supplier of oil to the last remaining superpower.

As China and India increasingly prospect for resources here, terrorism concerns rise and the U.S. military seeks a permanent military presence in Africa, the continent has its greatest international influence in decades. Whether Africa can use its newfound might to end its longtime blight is a separate issue.

"There's a new dynamic in play" for African nations, says Antony Goldman, an independent risk-analysis consultant based in London. "And the challenge for those countries is how to manage that."