US President Joe Biden has announced billions of dollars in support and investment for Africa at the US-Africa summit, where he met with the continent’s heads of state.
“The United States is all in on Africa’s future,” President Biden told the 49 African leaders attending the Washington DC meeting.
The US-Africa summit hosted in Washington is the first in eight years. The summit is seen as a US effort to affirm its influence in Africa to counter Chinese involvement.
This is seen after Donald Trump’s four-year tenure in office, in which he detached from many African leaders with policy decisions and insulting comments.
Biden struck a very different tone to his predecessor, speaking optimistically of improved links with Africa and telling the gathering that,
“When Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Quite frankly, the whole world succeeds as well.”
Biden noted that curbing the crisis facing the world, then African leadership, ideas, and innovations, as he promises to establish the essential investments in Africa made by previous US administrations.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US would commit $55 Billion to Africa over the next three years.
Discussions at the summit have focussed on building on already existing programs, including:
Prosper Africa – US government initiative meant to increase two-way trade between African nations and the US, launched in 2018.
The Clinton-era Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, Agoa, provides African apparel manufacturers preferential access to the US market.
The Power Africa initiative, floated by President Obama connects millions of Africans to the grid among others.
However, the positive results of these programs have been slow to realize, as Africa contributes to 1% of US foreign trade, mostly influenced by petroleum imports from Nigeria and Angola.
During his speech on Wednesday, the US president spoke about a $500m investment to reduce transport costs at a key West African port in Benin.
The president mentioned the allocation of $350m that would be spent on boosting the digital economy, claiming that $ 15bn worth of deals had been struck at the US-Africa Business Forum.
“The US is also set to sign a memorandum with the African Continental Free Trade Area – one of the world’s biggest free-trade areas to unlock new opportunities for trade and investment between the US and Africa,” Biden noted.
During the summit on Wednesday, Biden separately met with six leaders of African nations which are holding elections in 2023, to press for free votes.
On Thursday, the US president said he would back the African Union’s admission as a permanent member of the Group of 20 major economies, G-20.