To promote US-Africa relations and highlight new partnerships focused on creating economic opportunities in Africa and the US in the public and private sectors, the US Department of State hosted the US Africa Leaders Summit—the second event of its kind after the Obama administration. the first one will be held in 2014.
The 2022 US-Africa Leaders Summit was held in Washington, DC, from December 13-15 and featured delegations from 49 of the 54 African countries. Additionally, 246 African and African American companies were represented.
“The 3-day summit continued efforts to strengthen relations with African partners based on the principles of mutual respect and shared interests and values. It also served as an opportunity to listen and work with counterparts who Africans in key areas identified by the United States and Africa as critical for the future of the continent and our global community,” according to the US Department of State website.
In August, the Biden Administration released the new “US Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” which is historic in the sense of emphasizing the importance of Africa. It emphasized that Africa has “one of the world’s fastest growing populations, largest free trade area, most diverse ecosystems and one of the largest regional voting blocs in the United Nations (UN),” and is therefore of great importance. in shaping the future of the world.
The new strategy also comes in the wake of the reduced role of Africa under the Trump administration.
The first day featured discussions and panels involving African and African American leaders and experts in various sectors addressing matters ranging from trade and investment, health, governance, climate and space exploration. This includes the Civil Society Forum focusing on partnerships related to Africa’s Agenda 2063 strategy that details the union’s vision for Africa and the advancement of the global African diaspora.
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black man and woman to serve in her position and a 1986 graduate of Howard University, spoke at the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum. There, he reaffirmed the importance of the future of young African leaders and entrepreneurs.
“By working together, we can unlock growth and opportunity far beyond what any of us could achieve on our own. But we must invest in this coalition. So let’s work together to ignite the spark of creativity and ingenuity in Africa’s young leaders,” said Harris.
The Africa Business Forum took place on the second day and featured a keynote address by President Joe Biden. In his remarks, Biden emphasized that this new emphasis to prioritize cooperation with Africa is at the forefront of his administration and emphasizes the power of building on connections to advance Africa and the US.
“When Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Actually, the whole world is succeeding, too,” Biden said.
He also stressed that strengthening business relations involves supporting Africa in all areas, such as health and democracy, citing “good government, healthy populations and reliable and affordable energy” as important factor in strengthening the continent’s economy.
“The United States is committed to supporting every aspect – every facet – of Africa’s inclusive growth and creating the best possible environment for sustainable commercial engagement between African companies and American companies,” he said. .
Additionally, the President announced a three-point plan for supporting economic relations between the two regions.
They first involved, announcing a Memorandum of Understanding for US trade and investment cooperation in the African Continental Free Trade Area. The second piece is more investment in infrastructure and policies to support intra-African trade. Finally, millions will be invested in efforts to support African entrepreneurship through areas such as clean energy, agriculture, and the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative to expand affordable and reliable internet access. The initiative also includes partnering with companies like Microsoft with tech training for African business owners.
The third and final day of the Summit centered on discussions between Biden and African leaders in relation to the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs, Ervin Massinga, spoke to The Hilltop about building connections between African Americans and Africa through institutions such as historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs ) and featured President Biden’s announcement about the US African Diaspora and Africa Council to discuss issues of concern, healthcare entrepreneurship and more.
“We’re looking forward to talking and talking with HBCUs and faith groups and all kinds of specific organizations across America that care and are hungry and looking for opportunities to touch base on the issues that concern them. , be it health care, entrepreneurship, environment… .Our council is the vehicle to expand that dialogue,” said Massinga.
Massinga also discussed economic opportunities, saying that while tools such as the Foreign Commercial Service, Export and Import Bank and others exist for trade in Africa, more are needed.
“We need to do better and be more creative….But we need to hear from members of the diaspora, youth, entrepreneurs and others who have ideas and demand attention from their government on what to do, he said. .”
“The dialogue that is at the heart of the Summit shows that we are not here to tell our friends in Africa what to do and what the solutions are… it is a solution that is answered through dialogue.”
A series of side events surrounding the Summit also took place during the week, bringing together various African leaders and diaspora networking members from the public and private sectors.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman