Evelyn Dan Epelle – Washington
The US-Africa Leaders’ Summit kicked off yesterday in Washington DC and welcomed invited leaders from African countries in the US capital Washington DC for 3 days of networking and policy dialogue.
What should Nigerians expect and why does this event matter to African stakeholders?
1. Strategic Partnerships: The US – Africa leaders summit holds lofty aspirations and the desire of the United States to partner better with Africa to resolve global issues. On February 5, 2021 US President Joe Biden while speaking virtually to the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia said that the United States believes in the nations of Africa and wants to invest in the continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. The historical initiative of the US-Africa Leaders Summit will demonstrate this commitment and showcase the US’s strategy towards bettering US-Africa relations.
2. Soft power and politics: The rise of China in the global order and new arrangements in global geopolitics has forced America to move quickly to bridge the gap in African relations. Since 2014 when US President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to Washington DC for the first-ever US-Africa Leaders Summit, China and Russia have increasingly and regularly courted African leaders while the US lagged behind in bilateral relations with African countries. The 2022 summit reveals how the US intends to shape the preference of Africa towards strategic partnerships by means of appeal and attraction.
3. Diplomacy and Strategic Communications: To what extent has America met its promise to deepen its commitment to Africa for reciprocity and partnership in the past decade? Many Africans are reflecting on the history of these lofty meetings and finding little to no correlation between words and actions over time. The summit aims to highlight how America plans to act differently by communicating its efforts to restore trust where it is lost, and by renewing unmet commitments to Africa through diplomatic relations like the summit. Africans have shown openness to the idea but are increasingly learning where they stand in the global order and more Africans are demanding a seat at the table.
4. Innovation, business and trade opportunities: A convergence of malevolent forces have given rise to fresh concerns in Africa. With COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and the impacts of climate change threatening Africa’s chances of meeting sustainable development goals, this bleak moment can also become a turnaround opportunity for Africa to grow and develop. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States is bringing “resources to the table” as the US pledged $55 billion to Africa over the next three years, just as President Joe Biden prepares hosts a small group of African leaders at the summit to discuss the 2023 elections and democracy in the continent.