Everything you need to know about the Americas and Africa Leaders Summit.
8 years after the arrival of the African leaders, former US President Obama to the US capital, President Biden, who was the vice president at the time, repeated the gesture of his former president. This week, more than 40 African heads of state were in Washington for the second meeting of American and African leaders.
Leaders’ meetings were expected, but they were not announced ahead of this summit. In the end, Biden was unable to hold any direct talks with African heads of state. This role was assigned to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who spoke with African heads of state at the summit. While Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman met with several African ministers and representatives.
President Biden’s olive branch to Africa included US support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and a permanent seat for the African Union at the G20 forum. On the second day of the conference, AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene and Ambassador Catherine Tay, US Trade Representative, signed a memorandum of understanding on trade cooperation between the AfCFTA secretariat and the US.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said at a dinner with foreign ministers: “In order to accelerate this progress, the administration will take a number of measures, including the promotion of American business, the attraction of US private sector investment in the areas of industrial development in Africa. correcting misconceptions about risk and working with African partners to strengthen the business climate in their countries.
The Biden administration led the summit with $55 billion in commitments. According to President Biden, the summit resulted in $15 billion in new commitments, which is the main figure of $55 billion from initiatives already announced at previous forums. While there were some interesting announcements and investment commitments, the general feeling watching the US Africa Business Forum was to watch a collection of rough deals rather than any commitments enough to give the impression that, in Biden’s words, “the United States is all about the future of Africa.” .
Uninvited presence throughout the summit was, of course, China. At an event hosted by Semaphore, China’s ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, stated that “China-Africa relations are the foundation of China’s foreign policy.”
A day before the trial began, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in response to a question about China’s influence in Africa, “This is about what we can offer. It will be a positive offer about the partnership of the United States with Africa.” was. It’s not going to be about other countries. It’s not trying to compare and contrast.”
The main types of business forum are:
- Digital Transformation Initiative with Africa (DTA). The plan is to “expand digital access and literacy and strengthen digital environments across the continent.” A press release about the program explains that “working with Congress, this initiative aims to invest more than $350 million and to finance more than $450 million for Africa in line with the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy and the US Strategy for Africa Sahara will help.”
This follows the August release of the US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on open government, pandemic and economic recovery, and climate policy.
In other announcements, the US Department of Commerce wants to use regional digital attachés based in South Africa and Egypt to increase its focus on the digital sector through the DTA initiative and will co-chair Pillar 1: Digital Economy and Infrastructure with the United Nations was State Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
- Through the Prosper Africa initiative, the US government expects (through a $170 million facility) to mobilize $1 billion in private sector investment to Africa. Commitment depends on “availability of funds”, an interesting choice of words. But Prosper Africa hopes that financing and a series of partnerships with 5 African fund managers (Africa Future Fund, Altree Capital, Endeavor South Africa, Okavango Capital and ThirdWay Partners) will increase African exports to the United States by $1 billion.
Through the Prosper Africa Tech for Trade Alliance, Prosper Africa will serve as a “one-stop shop for businesses and investors, as well as coordinating cross-agency support for transactions in the ICT sector.” African startups and local VC firms will be interested.
- A number of investments in agriculture, food systems and health, including $100 million “to accelerate agricultural innovation” and unlocking $300 million in private funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). And $469 for new investments from the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to support food security, health and energy projects.
- In a more obvious move, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) will seek to strengthen the competitiveness of US exporters through the China and Export Transformation program. While the specifics of this program are unclear, the intent is to expand American-African trade. Evidence is found in several newly signed agreements. With the largest three being the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Africa 50 and the African Finance Corporation for a total of $1.3 billion.
In the US initiative on “Digital Transformation with Africa”, the US noted the increasing growth in the digital infrastructure space in Africa. “Let me give you an example,” Secretary Blinken said at a reception for African innovators, “Africa has nearly twice as many Internet users as the United States, but the continent has only a fraction of our data center space. What does that mean? Connect slower, less reliable.That’s why the US Development Finance Corporation is investing $300 million to build data centers across the continent, because we need networks that can keep up with the rapid pace of new ideas.
What was missing from this conversation about digital infrastructure was investment in or discussion of telecommunications infrastructure—a space that China’s Huawei dominates with more than 70% market share in devices used to provide mobile and Internet connectivity across the globe. Africa is used, there is an advantage. A previous US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) grant of $100 million to help Africell improve and expand mobile networks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia and Sierra Leone, however, was listed in a later statement on the US digital initiative. .
As a conciliatory gesture – after the US lecture on African countries about the neutrality of the continent in the face of US and EU persecution of Russia – this 2nd US Africa Summit could be successful. The jury is expected to fulfill the announced obligations. As an attempt to soften China’s position on the continent, suffice it to say that China does not need to look over its shoulder.