African leaders came to this year’s summit emboldened, with a keen awareness of the cards that they hold. And U.S. President Joe Biden’s opening speech captured this aptly when he said, “The United States is all in on Africa’s future.” The US-government has wrapped up its hosting of 49 African leaders and the African Union in the capital, Washington DC, with deep commitments for equitable investment and backing calls for more African representation in global decision-making bodies.
BIDEN BACKS AFRICA’S AMBITIONS
President Joe Biden announced around $15 billion in two-way trade in Africa, to increase investments in agriculture, digital economy, health, energy, infrastructure, and finance. The US is also optimistic that if the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is implemented the right way, it could help the continent solve most of its industrial challenges and attract more foreign investment. He expressed support for reforming the United Nations Security Council to include an African representative, as well as giving the African Union a permanent place at the G20, Biden said.
Africa belongs at the table in every room – in every room where global challenges are being discussed, and in every institution where discussions are taking place,”
He emphasised that partnerships should be on equal footing, “not to create political obligation or foster dependence but to spur shared success”. Discussions at the summit have focussed on building on 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
- the Power Africa initiative launched by President Obama to connect millions of Africans to the grid among others.
AFRICA.COM’S VIRTUAL DEAL ROOM
In collaboration with Prosper Africa, the virtual deal room gave an insider’s view where major business deals between African nations and the U.S. were being announced in real time. Some notable deals include:
· Prosper Africa announced a package of commitments to boost African exports to the United States by $1 billion dollars in the next five years
· Standard Bank and GE Healthcare have committed to expanding their collaboration and will work together to make new financing of up to $80 million available for GE equipment to Standard Bank customers across the continent over the next five years, with a focus in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, and Angola.
THE DEFENDERS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Human Rights Watch hosted the African Human Rights Leaders Summit, alongside Amnesty International USA, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), and Humanity United. The rights advocates urged US policymakers to ask the hard questions of African government leaders about rights violations and to respond accordingly, including by committing to accountability for abuses or imposing targeted sanctions. They also urged the US to leverage its financial assistance to curb growing authoritarian tendencies across the continent.