To advance U.S.-Africa relations and highlight new partnerships aimed at creating economic opportunity in both Africa and the U.S. in the public and private sectors, the U.S. Department of State hosted the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit – the second The first event of this kind after the Obama administration took place in 2014.
The US-Africa Leaders Summit 2022 took place in Washington, DC on December 13-15 and featured delegations from 49 of the 54 African countries. In addition, 246 African and Afro-American companies 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 to and collaborate with African colleagues on key areas that define the United States and Africa as critical to the future of the continent and our global community,” the US State Department website said.
In August, the Biden administration released the new “US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa,” which was historic in that it underscored the importance of Africa. It stressed that Africa has “one of the fastest growing populations in the world, the largest free trade zones, the most diverse ecosystems and one of the largest regional constituencies in the United Nations (UN)” and is therefore critical to shaping the future of the world.
The new strategy also comes after Africa’s role was reduced under the Trump administration.
Day one featured discussions and panel discussions with African American and African American leaders and experts from various sectors discussing issues such as trade and investment, health, governance, climate and space exploration. This included the Civil Society Forum, which focused on partnerships related to Africa’s Agenda 2063 strategy, which outlines the Union’s vision for Africa and the progress of the global African diaspora.
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black person and woman to hold her position and a 1986 Howard University graduate, spoke at the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum. There she reaffirmed the importance of the future of young African leaders and entrepreneurs.
“By working together, we can unlock growth and opportunity far beyond what either of us can achieve alone. But we have to invest in this coalition. So let’s work together to nurture the spark of creativity and ingenuity in Africa’s young leaders,” Harris said.
The second day saw the Africa Business Forum with President Joe Biden’s keynote address. In his remarks, Biden emphasized that this new emphasis on prioritizing work with Africa is at the forefront of his administration and underscored the power to build on the links to move Africa and the US forward
“If Africa succeeds, the United States will succeed. Honestly, the whole world is prospering, too,” Biden said.
He also stressed that strengthening business ties includes supporting Africa in all areas such as health and democracy, citing “good government, healthy populations and reliable and affordable energy” as crucial factors in strengthening the continent’s economy.
“The United States is committed to supporting every aspect — every aspect — of Africa’s inclusive growth and creating the best possible environment for sustained commercial engagement between African companies and American companies,” he said.
In addition, the President announced a three-point plan to boost economic ties between the two regions.
First of all, the announcement of a declaration of intent for US cooperation on trade and investment with the African continental free trade area. The second part is more investment in infrastructure and policies to support trade within Africa. Finally, millions will be poured into 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 partnerships with companies like Microsoft with technical training for African business owners.
The third and final day of the summit focused on discussions between Biden and African leaders regarding the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of African Affairs Ervin Massinga spoke to The Hilltop about building links between African Americans and Africa through institutions such as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and highlighted President Biden’s announcement of the US-African Diaspora and Africa Council to talk about issues of concern, entrepreneurship in healthcare and more.
“We look forward to dialogue and communication with HBCUs and faith groups and all kinds of specific organizations across America that care and hunger and are looking for ways to engage with issues that affect them, be it health, entrepreneurship , Environment….Our Council is the vehicle to expand that dialogue,” Massinga said.
Massinga also discussed economic opportunities, saying that while there have been tools like the Foreign Commercial Service, the Export and Import Bank and others for trade with Africa, more is 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 want their government’s attention on what needs to be done, he said.”
“The dialogue that is at the heart of the summit shows that we are not here to tell our African friends what needs to be done and what the solutions are…this is a solution that will be answered in dialogue.”
A series of side events centered around the Summit also took place during the week, bringing together various African leaders and diaspora network members from both the public and private sectors.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman