49 African leaders set to arrive in Washington for second US-Africa Leaders’ Summit

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The leaders of 49 African states are set to arrive in Washington over the next few days for the second United States-Africa Leaders’ Summit which is being billed as an opportunity to cover a range of issues from business and investment, democracy and governance and climate change among a host of issues on this year’s agenda.

The White House says the gathering will underscore the value the United States places on its collaboration with Africa on the most pressing global challenges and opportunities in an effort to demonstrate the commitment of President Joe Biden’s administration to revitalizing global partnerships and alliances.

This programme runs from December 13 through the 15th and includes a US-Africa Business Forum and a Leaders’ Summit Dinner at the White House.

The White House says the Summit is a reflection of the new US strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 in a broad effort to strengthen and advance the two region’s shared priorities.

“The President looks forward to hosting the US-Africa Leaders Summit. This Summit will underscore the value the United States places on our collaboration with Africa on the most pressing global challenges and opportunities, as well as on the Biden administration’s commitment to revitalizing global partnerships and alliances. We expect to engage a wide range of African and US stakeholders to illustrate the breadth and the depth of American partnerships with African governments,” says White House Press Secretary, Karne Jean-Pierre.

A range of topics will inform discussions including efforts towards fostering a new economic engagement, advancing peace, security and good governance, reinforcing commitments to democracy and human rights, promoting food and health security and continuing discussions in response to the climate crisis among others.

“We have a completely and highly heightened uncertainty across the global economy. And of course, Africa is no exception. And yet we are not out of the woods yet. As far as the pandemic is concerned, there are still many, many people in Africa not yet vaccinated. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed food, fertilizer and fuel prices higher than was known in recent times. And global inflation is ravaging double digit right now and certainly higher than we’ve had in the last four decades. Africa was not responsible for the war in Ukraine. And Africa is not responsible for climate change. Yet the ravages of each of these actions will hit Africa hardest,” explains Aloysius Uche Ordu, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

In the absence of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Minister of International Relations will lead a high-powered South African delegation to the Summit.

“The renewal of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit follows President Biden’s intervention during the 34th Summit of the AU, in February 2021, wherein he underscored the US commitment and readiness to partner with the Continent in taking the relations to new heights.

The Leaders’ Summit will discuss three thematic topics, namely, Partnering on Agenda 2063, Multilateral Partnerships with Africa to Meet Global Challenges, and Promoting Food Security and Food Systems Resilience on 15 December 2022,” says International Relations Minister Dr Naledi Pandor.

Countries that have experienced unconstitutional changes in government including Guinea, Sudan, Mali and Burkina Faso have not been invited while Eritrea does not enjoy full diplomatic status with the US.

The first US-Africa Leader’s Summit was held under the Obama administration in 2014 – an 8-year gap that raises questions about the consistency in US policy as it relates in to the changes from one administration to the next.

But a senior US administration official says the summit is rooted in the recognition that Africa is a key geopolitical player in shaping this era’s defining challenges; key among those is the issue of trade and development with a ministerial-level discussion on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act set to take place where trade ministers will have an opportunity to directly engage with members of the US Congress who are responsible for the legislation’s renewal before its expiration in 2025.