The US-African Leaders Summit is currently underway, with Biden welcoming 49 African leaders. The US-African Leaders Summit is currently underway, with Biden welcoming 49 African leaders.
African leaders will meet with President Joe Biden on Wednesday as the White House attempts to divert the continent’s attention away from China and Russia, which are gaining a stronger foothold in the region.
The three-day Africa Leaders’ Summit, which includes heads of state and representatives from 49 countries, began on Tuesday and will include the president’s participation on Wednesday. According to the White House, Biden will pledge $55 billion in financial aid, topping US commitments.
“By the end of this, you will see a genuine energy and a spirit of cooperation reflecting the fact that the United States has unique assets and capabilities to bring to bear,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.
Within the summit
The Biden administration hopes to reassert its influence in Africa after China surpassed the United States in foreign investment, and several African nations have been hesitant to follow the United States’ lead in condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine.
An economic pitch: The $55 billion in US aid will be distributed over the next three years to “address the core challenges of our time,” according to Sullivan, citing health issues, economic growth, and security in Africa as examples.
Biden is expected to announce US support for the African Union, which has 55 member countries, becoming a permanent member of the G-20 group.
During the summit, the US will announce several other “specific deliverables,” according to Sullivan. Biden has appointed Johnnie Carson, a former US ambassador to Kenya, to oversee the summit’s actions.
Why is the summit significant?
Throughout his presidency, Biden has attempted to mend relations with many world leaders in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy agenda.
When discussing immigration with lawmakers in 2018, Trump reportedly referred to African countries as “s***hole countries,” as well as Haiti and Central American countries. African leaders reacted angrily to the remarks at the time.
According to Sullivan, the summit is rooted in the recognition of Africa as a key geopolitical player.
“The continent will shape not only the future of the African people, but also the future of the world,” Sullivan added.
Vice President Kamala Harris kicked things off on Tuesday with a speech at the Africa and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, where she announced a $100 million expansion of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and re-launched the African Women Entrepreneurship Program, which will provide micro-finance to women.
Biden will host a forum for executives from over 300 African and American companies on trade and investment on Wednesday.
Later Wednesday, Biden will host a small group of African leaders for a discussion on Africa’s 2023 elections and “US support for free, fair, and credible polls across the continent,” according to Sullivan.
The evening will conclude with a dinner at the White House with Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and all 49 summit heads of delegation.
The only African Union members who have not been invited to the forum are Guinea, Sudan, Mali, and Burkina Faso, due to coups in those countries that resulted in unconstitutional transfers of power, and Eritrea, an East African country.
There will be a “broad-based commitment to travel to (Africa) in 2023 as it relates to the President, the Vice President, and cabinet secretaries,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-PIerre.
What they have to say
Despite China’s regional influence, the Biden administration stated that the summit was not about the Asian country. “It will not be about China; it will be about Africa,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated.
“We’re coming into this summit with a head of steam around a set of issues that I think this summit will kick into high gear,” Sullivan said. “And that will put us in a position not just to succeed next year or the year after that, but really over the course of this decisive decade.”