On Monday, the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan shared the US’s plans to commit $55 billion to support Africa “across a wide range of sectors” and in close partnership with the (US) Congress. This was just a day before the second US-Africa Leaders Summit, where President Biden is hosting 50 African Heads of State, kicked off.
Sullivan explained that the plan would be in line with African Union’s Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the continent’s sustainable, socio-economic development.
“The entire first substantive session that the president will chair at the summit is on Agenda 2063. That is not an American document. It is not an American Vision…We are lifting up African voices and African priorities in what we are doing in this summit,’ Sullivan stressed to reporters.
Moreso, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Sullivan’s assertion that the investment was not tied to African nations’ stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This is relevant as in March, 17 African nations did not partake in a vote to condemn Russia at the United Nations.
“We’re not putting a gun to anyone’s head. We will make the case with passion and persistence to every country in the world that they should speak out against the flagrant violations of the UN Charter. We’re not imposing conditionality from the point of view of this summit on decisions,” explained Sullivan.
The Breakdown of the Pledge
Over the course of the 3-day summit, the White House explained how the handsome investment would be split into the following sectors:
$20 billion will be dedicated to health programs across Africa: $11.5 billion to HIV/AIDS intervention; more than $2 billion to malaria intervention; more than $2 billion to support family planning, reproductive health, and maternal and child health; and more than $2 billion to tackle the persistent health, humanitarian and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Biden-Harris administration also plans to ask Congress for $4 billion, to be split equally annually from 2022-2014, for healthcare workers in Africa.
• Climate Change
Since January 2021, the US has invested and plans to provide at least $1.1 billion to support African-led environmental conservation efforts as well as climate adaptation and transitions to clean energy.
Some of the initiatives in this regard include Obama-pioneered Power Africa’s new initiatives, The Climate Action Infrastructure Facility (CAIF) and amongst many others.
• Trade and Investment
On Wednesday, President Biden spoke about the intended $15 billion in trade and investment partnership and deals. These include more than $1 billion in deals signed by US Export-Import Bank, a $500 million MoU with Afrexim Bank to foster diaspora engagement, a $500 million deal with the Africa Finance Corp, and a $300 million MoU with Africa50 to math US businesses with medium- to large-scale infrastructural projects.
• Women’s Partnerships
Vice President Kamala Harris pledged to advance women’s economic participation in Africa through various initiatives. The US International Development Finance Corporation announced $358 million of new investments for women’s initiatives. Some of the women’s initiatives which also tie in with the Climate Change goals are Accelerating Women’s Empowerment in Energy (AWEE) and Growing Green Jobs for Women – the latter will be focused in Nigeria.
A New Scramble for Africa
Experts say the US-Africa summit is a major effort from the Biden-Harris administration to gain ground in Africa once more, in light of the strained relationship under the Trump administration and the growing influence of China on the continent.
There seems to be more emphasis on the latter, even though President Biden has not mentioned China in any of his remarks throughout the summit.
Chinese trade with Africa is about four times that of the US and Beijing has become one of Africa’s biggest creditors. China is heavily involved in infrastructural and technological projects throughout the continent, making it hard for the US and other Western Powers to compete.
Between 2020 to 2021 alone, bilateral trade between Chin and Africa had risen by 35% to $254 billion, in spite of the pandemic.
The Biden administration now hopes to establish more influence and right the wrongs of its predecessor by continuing the work of the Obama administration, which held the first US-Africa summit in 2014 after Obama’s visit to Africa in 2013. The US seeks to pursue an African agenda based on mutual interest and respect which will hopefully make them the continent’s “partner of choice”, according to US officials.
There is certainly much work to be done after 8 years of neglect, but the US is clearly taking steps in the right direction.
Sources: The Guardian, Reuters, Al Jazeera