Why Biden welcomes African leaders to Washington
Certainly, it can be described as an irreversible historical landmark as United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his administration are set to renew their commitments and hold discussions relating to the global economy, democracy and governance, climate change, health and security, women, youth, and education during the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit scheduled for December 13-15 in Washington.
Unlike former President Donald Trump who used derogatory rhetoric to describe Africa as “shit-hole”, and his administration which pursued ineffective and uncoordinated relations with Africa in a lackluster manner, Biden rather seeks to raise Africa unto the global stage, integrate it into international bodies, and offer ultimate support for transforming its multi-faceted economic and other sectors. Amid a changing world, at least the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit shows an important strategic approach to leverage with Africa.
According to various authentic reports monitored by the author, Biden is expected to announce American support for the African Union’s admission to G-20 as a permanent member. By joining the G-20, it would enable Africa the chance to discuss more forcefully, pertinent issues, existing challenges and possible ways to achieve its sustainable development across Africa.
The G-20 members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. Our careful and systematic monitoring has also revealed that out of 55 African countries, South Africa is the only member of the group from the continent.
Therefore, Biden and his administration’s latest push further for ultimate ascension is highly appreciable. This final significant move comes after African Union Chair and President of Senegal Macky Sall, and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa humbly requested Biden to expand their participation in the G-20.
White House reports say Biden has not scheduled one-on-one meeting with any of the 50 African leaders attending the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, and has not invited Western Sahara, Eritrea, Somaliland, Sudan, Guinea, Mali nor Burkina Faso.
Biden did not invite Sudan, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso because they are currently suspended by the African Union following coups and counter coups in West Africa. These countries are not in good standing with the Africa Union, hence, were not invited.
In the case of Eritrea, although the United States established diplomatic relations with the country in 1993 following its independence from Ethiopia, and was one of the first countries to recognise Eritrea’s independence, relations have been frosty over government detention of political dissidents and prisoners of conscience, including religious minorities, the closure of the independent press, limits on civil liberties, violations of religious freedom, and reports of human rights abuses. They worsened in the past two years over the war in Tigray.
It said that Western Sahara, a disputed territory on the northwest coast and in the Maghreb region of North and West Africa, has not been invited to the summit. About 20 percent of the territory is controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, while the remaining 80 percent of the territory is occupied and administered by neighbouring Morocco.
U.S. has no diplomatic relations with the Western Sahara – the territory of Western Sahara – so they have not been invited. Currently, Somaliland and the United States also do not have official diplomatic relations. In all, Biden did not invite Western Sahara, Eritrea, Somaliland, Sudan, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso.
But the 49 remaining African heads of state and the chairperson of the African Union Commission – all in good standing with the African Union – have diplomatic relations with the United States and share ambassadors with Washington.
The Biden administration will consider seriously the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires in 2025. It has been the bedrock of trade relations between the two regions since the legislation was passed in 2000. This question is important and connects the current African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It will also be a platform to discuss AGOA implementation and how to work together to improve, for example, AGOA utilisation rates, strengthening economic cooperation, expanding to a trade and investment, and of course, supporting regional economic integration.
Under President Obama, there was the Young African Leadership Initiative to really speak to the moment in terms of the large demographic youth population and partnering to provide them the skills that they need to be leaders, to be the next generation to lead the continent. It works closely with the African diaspora and young civil society and business leaders inside Africa. And the Young African Leader Diaspora Forum is just one manifestation of that during the summit.
United States looks to find innovative solutions to new and long-standing challenges, harnessing new research and technologies, and investing in long-term sources of strength while meeting immediate needs and aspirations of Africans. In practical terms, it recognises the fact that Africa has enormous resources, one of the fastest-growing populations, largest free-trade areas, most diverse ecosystems, and one of the largest voting – regional voting groups in the United Nations.
According to reports, the summit is “really to highlight how the United States and our African partners are strengthening our partnerships and advancing shared priorities, and indicates a reflection of the U.S. strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, both of which emphasise the critical importance of the region in meeting this era’s defining challenges”.
In conclusion, it explicitly follows that it is an opportunity to deepen long-standing partnership and to focus on new areas. Discussions will focus on challenges and barriers hindering smooth friendship, ways of strengthening and advancing shared economic priorities, and defining opportunities for building relations into the future. The United States shows readiness to cooperate with African partners within the framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063