To advance U.S.-Africa relations and highlight new partnerships focused on creating economic opportunity in both Africa and the U.S. public and private sectors, the U.S. State Department hosted the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit, the second of its kind since the Obama administration. The first one took place in 2014.
The 2022 US-Africa Leaders Summit was held in Washington, DC, from December 13 to 15, and was attended by delegations from 49 of the 54 African countries. In addition, 246 African and African-American businesses were represented.
“The three-day summit continued efforts to strengthen ties with African partners based on the principles of mutual respect and shared interests and values. It also served as an opportunity to listen and engage with African partners on key areas that the United States and Africa define as critical to the future of the continent and our global community,” according to the US State Department website.
In August, the Biden administration issued a new “US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa,” which was historic in the sense that it emphasized the importance of Africa. It emphasizes that Africa has “one of the world’s fastest growing populations, the largest free trade area, the most diverse ecosystems and one of the largest regional voting blocs in the United Nations (UN)” and therefore has a critical role in shaping the world’s future.
The new strategy also comes after the role of Africa was reduced during the Trump administration.
The first day featured discussions and panels featuring African-American and African-American leaders and experts from a variety of industries, discussing issues ranging from trade and investment, health, governance, climate and space exploration. These included the Civil Society Forum, which focused on partnerships around the Africa Agenda 2063, which details the union’s vision for Africa and the development of the global African diaspora.
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman and woman to hold the position and a 1986 graduate of Howard University, spoke at the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum. There she reaffirmed the importance of young African leaders and entrepreneurs for the future.
“Working together, we can unlock growth and opportunities far beyond what any of us can achieve alone. But we have to invest in this coalition. So let’s work together to spark creativity and ingenuity in Africa’s young leaders,” Harris said.
The Africa Business Forum was held on the second day and featured President Joe Biden. In his remarks, Biden emphasized that this new emphasis on prioritizing work with Africa was at the forefront of his administration and emphasized the value of building connections to advance Africa and the United States.
“When Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Frankly, so does the whole world,” Biden said.
He also stressed that strengthening business relations includes supporting Africa in all areas, such as health and democracy, citing “good governance, a healthy population and reliable and affordable energy” as important factors in strengthening the continent’s economy.
“The United States is committed to supporting all aspects of Africa’s inclusive growth and to creating the best possible environment for lasting commercial cooperation between African companies and American companies,” he said.
In addition, the President announced a three-point plan to support economic relations between the two regions.
First, a Memorandum of Understanding on US trade and investment cooperation with the African Continental Free Trade Area is announced. The second part is more investment in infrastructure and policies to support trade in Africa. Finally, millions will be invested to support African business 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 partnerships with companies such as Microsoft with technology training for African business owners.
The third and final day of the summit was devoted to discussions between Biden and African leaders regarding the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Erwin Massinga, Principal Deputy Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs, spoke to The Hilltop about building connections between African Americans and Africa through institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and highlighted President Biden’s announcement on the US African diaspora and Africa. Council to discuss issues of concern, the business of health care and more.
“We’re looking forward to dialogue and communication with HBCUs and faith groups and all kinds of special organizations across America who care and are hungry and looking for ways to touch on issues that matter to them, whether it’s health care, business, the environment. . . . Our board is a vehicle , to expand this dialogue,” Massinga said.
Massinga also discussed economic opportunities, saying that while trade with Africa had tools such as the Foreign Commercial Service, the Export-Import Bank and others, more was needed.
“We need to do better and be more creative… But we need to listen to the diaspora, the youth, entrepreneurs and others who have ideas and demand attention from their government on what to do,” he said.
“Dialogue, which is at the heart of the summit, shows that we are not here to tell our African friends what to do and what the solutions are… this is a solution that is answered through dialogue.”
A series of side events related to the summit also took place during the week, bringing together various African leaders and members of diaspora networks from the public and private sectors.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman