President Biden informed the 49 African leaders gathered in Washington, DC, “The United States is all in on Africa’s future.
Compared to his predecessor, Trump, Mr Biden set a completely different tone, spoke upbeat about strengthened ties with Africa and told the crowd that “The United States gains when Africa does. Quite simply, success extends to the entire planet.”
He vowed to continue on the “essential” investments made in Africa by past US administrations, claiming that the issues facing the globe today need African leadership, ideas, and technologies.
A new pact with the African Continental Free Trade Area, according to Biden, will provide American businesses access to 1.3 billion people and a $3.4 trillion market. He named businesses that have transacted business at the summit, including Cisco Systems Inc. and General Electric Co. (CSCO.O). National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced that the US would invest $55 billion (£44 billion) in Africa over the next three years to achieve this goal.
The summit’s discussions have centred on expanding upon currently running programs, such as:
- Prosper Africa – a US government initiative “to increase two-way trade” between African nations and the US launched in 2018
- the Clinton-era Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, Agoa, which provides African apparel manufacturers preferential access to the US market;
- the Power Africa initiative launched by President Obama to connect millions of Africans to the grid among others.
However, it has taken some time for these programs to become successful. Only slightly more than 1% of US international commerce, which is mostly comprised of petroleum imports from Angola and Nigeria, goes to Africa.
The US president mentioned a $500 million investment to lower transportation costs at a crucial port in Benin, West Africa, in his speech on Wednesday.
Additionally, he stated that $15 billion worth of transactions had been made during the US-Africa Business Forum and that $350 million will be spent to support the digital economy.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers keynote remarks at a U.S.-Africa Business Forum at the 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
An agreement between the US and the African Continental Free Trade Area, one of the largest free-trade zones in the world, is also about to be signed. According to Vice President Biden, this would “open new prospects for trade and investment” between the US and Africa.
On Wednesday, Mr Biden visited individually with the six heads of state of the African countries hosting elections in 2023 to urge for democratic elections. On Thursday, the US president indicated he would endorse the African Union’s admittance as a permanent member of the Group of 20 major economies.
For a debate on elections and democratic ideals, Biden also met with leaders from Gabon, Liberia, and other countries that will be holding elections in 2023.
The conference is a part of an ongoing effort to strengthen connections as China expands its influence via loans, investment, and trade initiatives. For more than two decades, Beijing has hosted its own high-level summits with African leaders every three years. Some American officials have been hesitant to portray the conference as a struggle for power. In his speech, Biden omitted China, and Washington moderated its criticism of Beijing’s lending policies and development initiatives.