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Takeaway’s from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit engaged at a time when the world was unstable and Africa’s infrastructure financing needs were expected to be more than $100 billion annually. The Summit demonstrates the United States’ steadfast commitment to Africa, underlines the significance of U.S.-Africa relations, and highlights the need for further cooperation on common global concerns.

U.S. President Joe Biden and African leaders pose for a photo during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, Dec. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

Under Barack Obama’s Presidency, the US-Africa Summit was first held in 2014. The discussions centred on how to promote development in key areas that Africans define as crucial for the future of the continent, including expanding trade and investment ties, engaging young African leaders, promoting inclusive sustainable development, expanding cooperation on peace and security, and gaining a better future for Africa’s next generation.

A new U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit was held in Washington, D.C., from December 13–15, 2022, with President Joe Biden hosting leaders from all around Africa. The way the U.S. and the west will manage and deal with this challenge will decide and determine the balance of global power between China and its allies on one hand and the U.S. and its allies on the other hand. The summit comes at a challenging time, characterized by deteriorating security conditions on the continent—reminiscent of the Cold War era—exacerbated by rising geopolitical tensions and the urgency to ramp up the energy transition and combat climate change. There is a risk that the subordination of growth and development objectives to security priorities, which has dominated US engagement with Africa, will persist in today’s highly geopolitically driven world.

The Summit presents an opportunity for the Biden administration to personally make the case for the new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which aims to shift U.S. engagement with Africa from an uneven relationship to equal partnerships.

President Biden addressed the heads of state from around 50 African countries assembled for the three-day summit. He took efforts to start rebuilding trust with a continent that felt abandoned by the United States, with Russia and China, in particular, coming in to fill the void. Speaking at the U.S.-Africa Summit Leaders Session on Partnering on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, Biden remarked: the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by Russia’s unjust and unprovoked war against its neighbor Ukraine, has roiled the global economy, erasing many of the development gains that we worked so hard together to achieve over the past two decades.

“But that doesn’t change our shared goals and our commitment to seeing them through. It only makes it more urgent for us to take decisive action and take it together.” he Biden explained, “That’s why, over the next three years, working in close cooperation with the United States Congress, we plan to commit $55 billion in Africa to advance the priorities we share and su- — and to support the Agenda 2063.”

That number represents a comprehensive commitment from the United States to invest in Africa’s people, Africa’s infrastructure, Africa’s agriculture, Africa’s health system, Africa’s security, and more, he stated.

As China moves toward a worldwide economic opening. Wang Yimeng, a former senior diplomat in the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation who is currently a senior research fellow at Zhejiang Normal University’s Institute of African Studies said: “In the face of challenges such as the US’ broken economic promises, lack of required commitment and whether the “US is really back” as promised by President Biden, China-Africa cooperation, in contrast, has over the last few decades made significant joint progress. With China’s comprehensive approach, closely aligned to Africa’s development priorities, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative continue to deliver concrete benefits to African countries among others regarding continental integration, infrastructure development, strengthened economic links, modernization as well as poverty reduction.”

Despite the fact that African countries require assistance to make up for the deficit brought about by a variety of problems, including the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects, African observers claim that their continent does not desire “big brother interference.” They claimed that the United States had failed to recognize that African leaders were the most qualified to understand the requirements of their nations and did not require instruction on such matters. According to analysts, ensuring accountability of U.S. leaders to uphold these disparate commitments—and African leaders to deliver for their citizens—will be the critical test of the Summit’s lasting success.

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