Leaders from almost 50 African nations are holding meetings in Washington to foster partnerships between America and the Continent. Minister for International Relations & Cooperation, Naledi Pandor is attending for South Africa.
The US-Africa Leaders Summit is also an attempt by the Biden administration to counter Chinese influence across the region.
For the Biden administration, this is a huge diplomatic push with officials in Washington trying to woo not just one country, but an entire continent.
There’s a tacit acknowledgment that the Biden administration has neglected Africa, focusing much of its foreign policy engagement on the Indo-Pacific.
US-Africa Summit kicks off in Washington:
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken started the first day of this three-day summit with a speech at the National Museum of African American History and Culture where he said America wanted to engage with African nations as equals.
“Earlier this year in South Africa, I had an opportunity to set out the administration’s new strategy for sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a strategy rooted in one keyword – partnership – and in recognition that we can’t solve any of our shared priorities unless we work together. And it’s a strategy that recognizes the immense role that the African diaspora and young people will play in shaping and strengthening that partnership,” says Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State.
A big focus of day one was on the continent’s young and fast-growing population. The African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum highlighted ways to strengthen the interaction between the US and young Africans.
Blinken said the US, in the coming days, would be announcing additional investments to make it easier for students to take part in exchange programs.
Blinken also mentioned South African comedian Trevor Noah who recently announced he’s stepping down from the Daily Show here in the US. Blinken said he would miss his “piercing comedy”.
A separate meeting, chaired by US Trade representative Katherine Tai focused on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The measure that allows some tariff-free trade with the US is set to expire in 2025.
The Biden administration which has referred to AGOA as the “bedrock” of its trade relations with AfriAfri is still weighing how to improve the agreement.
President Joe Biden will be taking part in the next two days. He’s hoping the summit can help counter China’s influence in Africa, as Beijing increases trade and investment across the continent.
But there are no plans for one-on-one bilateral meetings with any of the African leaders and representatives.
VIDEO: US – AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT UNDERWAY IN WASHINGTON