Biden Goes Big On Promises To Africa

By Prince Kurupati

With huge potentials but lagging behind on the economic front when compared to the West and Eastern countries, President Joe Biden is coming up big on promises to help shore up the fortunes of Africa as he seeks to bolster ties with the continent described by many as the last frontier for trade.

In his address on Thursday 15 December, President Biden told the 50 African leaders at the summit that the U.S. was ready to commit $55 billion in projects in the coming three years. He said that the U.S. is targeting several industries and sectors as it wants to holistically uplift the continent to become a global giant. In light of Africa’s severe energy problems and the global desire to dump non-renewable energy sources, President Biden said that a portion of the funds would be channelled towards green energy.

Joining the Biden administration, the U.S. private sector in various meetings with African leaders also pledged to splash out $15 billion in projects that would help Africa move in tandem with other developed nations on the technology front.

The pledge couldn’t have come at a better time for Africa as the continent is currently reeling under the effects of the Covid pandemic and other nature-induced disasters. The U.S. during the previous Trump administration had side-lined Africa as Trump prioritised investing in other regions, particularly Asia. The last time such a gathering was held was during President Obama’s tenure.

For many African political analysts, the pledge by President Biden is noteworthy but there is still the lingering feeling of it being a ‘tick the box’ move. Solace however can be found in the mere fact that Biden in recent months demonstrated his commitment to prioritising Africa by calling for an African permanent seat on the UN Security Council. He also called for a permanent African Union role in the Group of 20 economies.

At the US-African Summit, President Biden also reinforced this by stating that “Africa belongs at the table in every room, in every room where global challenges are being discussed and every institution where discussions are taking place”.

Apart from the development projects commitments, President Biden also unveiled$2.5 billion in food assistance to the continent to alleviate hunger. Several African regions including Somalia are currently experiencing debilitating food shortages which are threatening to explode into full-blown famines. Addressing this, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said “Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine has led to the disruption of food and energy supplies that affect all of our economies”. a\

Away from the economic front, President Biden also took time to encourage all countries that have elections in the coming year (2023) to conduct free, fair and peaceful elections. To the entire continent, the U.S. president said his country has always maintained core democratic values and he aspires that the African continent does the same. “Support for democracy, respect for the rule of law, commitment to human rights responsible government, all are part of our DNA,” President Biden said.

To foster democratic values on the continent, the U.S. President announced a $100 million facility for security and a further $75 million investment to counteract “democratic backsliding”.

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