The president of the United States of America, Joe Biden, will host President Akufo-Addo and over 40 other African leaders in Washington, DC for the 2022 US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, which starts today (Tuesday 13 December 2022).
The first US-Africa Summit took place in 2014 under President Barack Obama’s administration. His immediate successor, President Donald Trump, showed no interest between 2017 and 2021 in hosting any similar summit with African leaders.
However, President Biden, who was vice-president when Obama hosted the maiden US-Africa Summit, has decided to revive the Obama vision of strengthening relations with governments on the African continent.
Over the past decade (from 2011 to 2021), US trade relations with Africa have dwindled compared with trade with China, the second biggest economy in the world.
Credible global sources show that in 2021, China’s trade with Africa stood at US$261 billion, whereas trade between the United States and Africa in the same year stood at roughly US$64 billion.
US officials, including President Biden, have recently signalled that they intend to charge this trend to regain the top spot the United States once occupied.
According to the New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh, US officials have hinted in a series of briefings that the summit will feature a string of business deals between African and US companies, as well as an initiative to boost the continent’s “digital economy.”
Walsh said that President Biden “will announce American support for an African Union seat on the G20, as well as for greater African representation in global institutions like the International Monetary Fund”.
He also predicts that “there will be initiatives to tap the African diaspora for new ideas in higher education, creative industries and the environment and for collaborations with NASA on space programmes”.
“A guide for summit delegates, obtained by the New York Times, predicts that Africa’s ‘space economy’ will grow 30 per cent by 2024 – an opportunity for the US to help with technologies to solve problems related to climate change, agriculture, security and illegal fishing and mining,” the paper said.
“But there is little sign that Mr Biden intends to launch a signature policy initiative like previous American administrations.
“A massive project to combat HIV and Aids, launched by President George W Bush in 2003 and known as PEPFAR, has cost $100 billion and saved 25 million lives, according to the government.
“President Obama’s biggest initiative was Power Africa, which has brought electricity to 60 million African homes – about half its original goal.
“The White House says it will use the summit to revitalise older American initiatives like the Africa Growth Opportunity Act, a Clinton-era law lowering some trade barriers to Africa, which is set to expire in 2025,” Declan Walsh reported for the New York Times.
Schedule for day one
For the US-Africa Summit, there will be an Africa and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, which will take place at the African American History Museum.
It will be followed by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Civil Society Forum, the US-Africa Space Forum (USASF), the Peace, Security and Governance Forum and Partnering for Sustainable Health Co-operation – all events that will take place on the first day of the summit.
Other events taking place on day one are a round table on “Supporting Conservation, Climate Adaptation and a Just Energy Transition” as well as a congressional reception.