US-Africa summit: US ‘all in’ on Africa’s future …Biden says

 US President, Joe Biden, has announced billions of dol­lars in support and investment for Africa at a summit with the continent’s heads of state.

“The United States is all in on Africa’s future,” President Biden told the 49 African lead­ers attending the Washington DC meeting.

It is the first of such gath­ering hosted by Washington in eight years. The summit is seen as a US attempt to re-assert its influence in Africa to counter Chinese involvement.

It also comes after Donald Trump’s four-year tenure in office, during which he alienated numerous African leaders with policy decisions and insulting comments.

Mr Biden struck a very different tone to his predeces­sor, speaking optimistically of improved links with Africa and telling the gathering that “when Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Quite frankly, the whole world succeeds as well”.

He said that the crises facing the world today needed African leadership, ideas and innovations, and promised to build on the “vi­tal” investments in Africa made by previous US administrations.

To that end, ahead of the three-day summit which ends on Thursday, National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the US would commit $55bn (£44bn) to Africa over the next three years.

Discussions at the summit have focused on building already existing programmes, including:

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;

And the Power Africa initia­tive launched by President Obama to connect millions of Africans to the grid among others.

But the successes of such programmes have been slow to actualise. Africa only accounts for just over 1% of US foreign trade, which is dominated by petroleum imports from Nigeria and Angola.

In his address on Wednesday, the US president spoke about a $500million investment to reduce transport costs as a key West African port in Benin.

He also mentioned $350m that would be spent on boosting the digital economy and said that $15bn-worth of deals had been struck at the US-Africa Business Forum.

The US is also set to sign a memorandum with the African Continental Free Trade Area – one of the world’s biggest free-trade areas – which Mr Biden said would “unlock new opportu­nities for trade and investment” between the US and Africa.

On the sidelines of the summit on Wednesday, Mr Biden separately met the six leaders of African nations which are holding elections in 2023 to press for free votes. – BBC

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