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Joe Biden: US ‘all in’ on Africa’s future

During a conference with the continent’s chiefs of state, US Vice President Joe Biden proposed billions of dollars in aid and investment for Africa.

President Biden informed the 49 African leaders attending the Washington, D.C. gathering, “The United States is fully invested in Africa’s destiny.”

It is the first time Washington has held such a summit in eight years.

The conference is viewed as an effort by the United States to reassert its influence in Africa in response to Chinese involvement.

Joe biden: us 'all in' on africa's future
Joe Biden: US 'all in' on Africa's future

It also follows the four-year presidency of Donald Trump, during which he alienated numerous African leaders with his policy decisions and nasty remarks.

Mr. Biden set a markedly different tone than his predecessor when he spoke confidently about improved relations with Africa and told the gathering that When Africa succeeds, so do the United States. Honestly, the entire planet succeeds as well.”

He stated that the world’s current difficulties required African leadership, ideas, and inventions, and he pledged to build on the “important” investments made by previous US administrations in Africa.

Joe biden
Joe Biden: US 'all in' on Africa's future

In this regard, before Thursday’s conclusion of the three-day summit, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced that the United States would commit $55 billion (£44 billion) to Africa over the next three years.

Discussions during the summit have centered on expanding upon existing programs, such as:

  • Launched in 2018, Prosper Africa is a US government program “to enhance bilateral trade” between African nations and the United States.
  • the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) of the Clinton administration, which grants African garment producers priority access to the US market;
  • Obama’s Power Africa plan aims, among other things, to link millions of Africans to the grid.

However, the success of these programs has been sluggish to materialize. Africa only accounts for just more than one percent of US international trade, which is dominated by Nigerian and Angolan petroleum imports.

In his address on Wednesday, the president of the United States discussed an investment of $500 million to lower transportation costs at a vital West African port in Benin.

In addition, he indicated that $350 million will be allocated to bolstering the digital economy and that $15 billion worth of deals had been concluded during the US-Africa Business Forum.

The United States will also sign a memorandum with the African Continental Free Trade Area, one of the world’s largest free-trade areas, which Vice President Biden said will “open new trade and investment opportunities” between the United States and Africa.

Mr. Biden separately met with the leaders of the six African nations holding elections in 2023 on the margins of the conference on Wednesday to promote free elections.

The US president is also likely to support the African Union’s entry as a permanent member of the Group of 20 major economies at the end of the summit on Thursday. New Year’s Eve is also a potential time for him to announce a trip to the continent.

Performing catch-up

President Biden was attempting to regain influence in Africa through personal diplomacy and by offering billions of dollars in support for important sectors and enticing private sector involvement.

The implication was that the United States was attempting to catch up to other countries, such as Russia and China, that have forged closer relations with the continent.

However, the message was that the United States desired a strategic partnership with Africa, which has become a major geopolitical player with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

The meeting will be deemed a success for the Americans if they can demonstrate that Africa is more than a battlefield for competition with Beijing and Moscow. They wish to demonstrate that they are superior partners to China and Russia.

For this reason, the White House established a special envoy to ensure that the U.S. demonstrates its commitment through continued involvement.

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