US aims to increase cooperation with African nations as President Joe Biden hosts dozens of regional leaders at second summit America-Africa Leaders Summit this week in Washington, DC.
Starting Tuesday, three-day summit will focus on key challenges, including the climate crisis, good governance, food security and global health, as well as advancing US-Africa trade and investment opportunities.
“The summit… was rooted in the recognition that Africa is an important geopolitical player. This continent will shape the future not only of the people of Africa but of the whole world,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday afternoon.
Mr. Sullivan said in a press conference that 49 heads of state and leaders of Africa and the African Union have been invited to the summit.
The talks – which follow up to the first such gathering organized by former US President Barack Obama eight years ago – mark the largest international gathering in Washington, DC, since before they even began. COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden found a way rebuild Washington’s relationship with other countries, as well as re-cooperating with global organizations such as the United Nations, after four years of applying the “America First” foreign policy of his predecessor Donald Trump.
The United States’ role in Africa has declined during that time, and Biden administration officials have emphasized the need to strengthen ties with like-minded nations in the region.
“Working closely with Congress, the United States will commit $55 billion to Africa over the next three years,” Sullivan said Monday.
China, Russia compete
The summit took place against the backdrop of China, which the United States considers an ally. main global competitor, has consistently surpassed Washington in investments in Africa. Russia is also trying to rally support on the continent in the face of pressure from the United States and its allies over the war in Ukraine.
However, ahead of meetings this week, top Biden administration officials have played down their growing concerns about China and Russia. Instead, they emphasized the importance of including African nations in global discussions.
“We need more African voices in international dialogues related to the economy, democracy and global governance, climate change, health and safety,” White House adviser Judd Devermont said. security”.
In August, the Biden administration released a new strategy document for Sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting the region’s importance and promising to expand defense cooperation with like-minded nations.
In November, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said Washington would have to do things differently to help Africa meet its infrastructure needs. It’s time to stop treating the continent as a geopolitical topic, Blinken said, but as a major player in itself.
The region needs billions of dollars a year for roads, railways, dams and electricity, and over the past decade it has received Huge amount of money from Chinagenerally do not tie money to political or rights-related conditions.
Washington has described Chinese lending as predatory and leads to potential debt traps. Instead, they focus on facilitating private investment, but officials acknowledge that the United States needs to do more to speed support.
As part of this week’s summit, Biden will deliver a keynote speech at the US-Africa Business Forum on Wednesday, before hosting a dinner for world leaders gathered in the capital. dollar of the United States.
The President of the United States is expected to return to a fixed position for the African Union in the Group of 20, a forum for major economies, during the summit. Sullivan said Biden would also express a commitment to reform the UN Security Council, “including backing a permanent member” from Africa.
“It is time for Africa to have a permanent seat on the table in international organizations and initiatives,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters.
On Thursday, Biden and other heads of state and leaders will hold talks on promoting food security, after months of supply concerns and disruptions related to the war in Ukraine. He will also discuss the 2023 African elections and democracy with a small group of leaders, Sullivan said.
“One of the unique aspects of this summit is the collateral damage that the Russian war has done to Africa in terms of food supplies and the diversion of development assistance to Ukraine, ” John Stremlau, a visiting professor of international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told the Associated Press news agency.
“The opportunity cost of invasion in Africa is very high,” says Stremlau.
‘Big opportunity, some risk’
Meanwhile, local officials in Washington, DC, are warning residents to watch out for roadblocks and beef up security as dozens of leaders are invited to move around the city for talks.
The United States has invited all reputable African Union members, meaning that Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan will not be represented. Attendees must also have full relations with Washington, excluding Eritrea.
One of the most closely watched leaders in Washington will be the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed, a one-time ally of the United States that the Biden administration has accused of supporting widespread abuses during the Tigray conflict. One breakthrough agreement last month led to the cessation of hostilities.
The presidents of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will also attend, as Blinken puts international pressure on Rwanda over alleged support for the rebels to gain control of territory in the neighboring DRC.
Other presidents attending the summit included Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Tunisia’s Kais Saied, both of whom have faced criticized for the lack of democratic rights in their countryas well as Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogowho came days after the United States called his latest election a sham.
The foreign minister of Zimbabwe, which is under US sanctions, is also expected to attend.
Analysts say that African leaders will expect Biden to make some major commitments in the negotiations, including the announcement of his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the announcement of his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa. efforts to boost the continent’s economy through private sector investment and trade.
Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the US entered the summit with “a lack of confidence” due to the long wait since it last held it. in 2014.
“The summit offers great opportunities, but it also poses some risks,” he said.
“This is an opportunity to show Africa that the United States really wants to listen to them,” he added. “But now that we have many expectations, the question will be: What will be different now?”