Biden seeks to reassert US power in Africa through summit.
This week, President Biden will host 50 African leaders in Washington for a high-profile summit to strengthen relations with Africa and counter Chinese or Russian influence.
The summit will be the White House’s first since 2014. This is because the Biden administration wants to increase cooperation on issues such as trade, investments and elections.
The U.S.-Africa Summit is happening at a time when some African countries refuse to take a stance towards Russia. This is due to concerns about global food security during the war in Ukraine, and part of Biden’s ongoing efforts to strengthen democracies overseas.
Experts believe that Biden’s biggest challenge will be to prove to African leaders that the U.S. is a reliable and long-term partner in a rapidly growing continent with significant influence in the global economy, diplomatic community, and international politics.
They don’t view us as a long-term partnership. They don’t trust us. They view us as unreliable. Cameron Hudson, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Africa Program, said that this summit marks the beginning of an effort to change the narrative.
Hudson pointed out that Biden hasn’t been to the White House as often or had more meetings with African leaders than his predecessors. The continent is rich in key minerals that are essential for global supply chains. Its growing population will ensure that it provides a greater percentage of the global workforce.
About 25% of the United Nations General Assembly is made up of African countries. Many of these nations either abstained from or broke with the U.S. earlier in the year when the resolution was passed condemning Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine.
Experts believe that the reaction of African leaders to the conflict in Ukraine was a major factor in the decision by the Biden administration for the summit to be held.
“I feel that part of me feels that the American policy establishment has been shaken by Africa’s reaction to the Ukraine conflict. This seems to be an overture. “This seems to have been born out of the realization that things aren’t what they used to be,” stated Ebenezer Obadare (the Douglas Dillon senior fellow for Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations).
“And if America is going to need to keep its allies in this region, it will have to do some smooching.”
Biden looks to reassert US influence in Africa with summit https://t.co/yzyWFgSNah
— the-diplomatic-world (@thediplomaticW) December 14, 2022
Obadare said that the U.S. is developing a long-term strategy for diplomacy with Africa. This has a lot to do with Russia’s attention on Africa as well as China.
He said, “I don’t believe that it has anything to do with Russia.” “I believe the United States is looking at the long-term more seriously. … How could we have let China and Russia gain such a hold on the continent that we are actually struggling to think clearly?
He said, “You are looking beyond the immediate need of wrestling African countries away from Russia to regaining their affections and consolidating American interests in Africa.”
This week, the White House tried to dispel concerns that the summit would be a one-off event and that Biden’s attention on Africa would disappear once it was over.
Biden will announce that the U.S. will commit $55 billion to Africa in the coming three years during the summit.
He will also support the African Union’s permanent membership in the Group of 20 and his support for a permanent African member to the U.N. Security Council. He will also announce his support for Africa joining the Group of 20 permanently and his support for U.N. Security Council to include a permanent member from Africa in 2023.
The U.S. will appoint Ambassador Johnnie Carson as the special representative to U.S. Africa Leaders Summit implementation. He was previously assistant secretary of state for the bureau of African affairs.
The White House insists that the summit isn’t about trying to persuade an African nation to take a position against Russia.
“We are not going to put a gun on anyone’s head. National security advisor Jake Sullivan stated Monday that they believe the war in Ukraine should be a matter of principle. “But, we are not imposing conditionality.”
He said, “We are not approaching it from the perspective of coercing other countries.”
Obadare noted, however, that the U.S. might want to make commitments from African countries during the three-day summit.
Obadare stated that “I believe that America will continue to be the same long-term question… African countries need certain commitments from the United States.” “The United States will not say, ‘Here’s our moral support, and here’s our financial help’ without asking any African countries.
Meetings on business relations with Africa, as well as future elections in Africa are also on the agenda for the summit.
Biden will host Wednesday’s meeting on trade and investment between America and Africa. This will feature CEOs of more than 300 American and African companies. Biden will then make public remarks. Next, the president will host a meeting about free and fair elections in Africa and conclude the day with dinner for spouses and leaders.
On Thursday, high-level discussions will be held about the vision of the African Union for the continent. This will be followed by a lunch hosted by Vice President Harris as well as a meeting on food safety hosted by Biden.
On Tuesday, the summit will begin with discussions about civil society, trade investments, health, climate change, peace, and space.