Seven months ago, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C., President Biden said his administration is “all in” on Africa’s future. He is making good on that promise.
Following the Summit, the United States is delivering on the president’s high-profile and initiatives, including digital transformation, infrastructure projects, trade and investment, African diaspora engagement, adaptation to climate change, democratic governance, and more. We are sharing our progress and next steps through our website: https://www.state.gov/africasummit/.
As Special Presidential Representative for coordinating Summit implementation, I have spoken widely to African leaders in Washington and engaged in two overseas trips. Our African counterparts say that the gathering, which welcomed 49 visiting African delegations and the African Union to Washington D.C., achieved its primary goal: to demonstrate a renewed commitment to partnerships on the continent.
African leaders felt they were listened to and that their economic, political and security issues were heard and taken seriously. At the same time, the Summit’s success will ultimately be measured by the implementation of the commitments made and the development of a framework to institutionalize future engagement. Expectations are high and African leaders expect us to deliver.
Expectations are high and African leaders expect us to deliver.
I am pleased to report that through a ‘whole-of-government’ effort, projects and partnerships are advancing, and program implementation is moving forward in six major areas. For example:
- Since December, there have been an unprecedented number of well-received U.S. Cabinet or Principal-level visitors to the African region, including the Vice President, the First Lady, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Education, the Ambassador to the United Nations, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the U.S. Trade Representative. This level of senior official travel reflects the seriousness of U.S. commitments to our partners in Africa.
- President Biden announced the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative, which intends to work with Congress to provide over U.S. $350 million and to facilitate over $450 million towards digital access and literacy in Africa.Among the actions thus far: In April, the U.S. launched an Africa Tech for Trade Alliance to accelerate e-commerce and digital trade; the State Department held the first regional conference on 5G Security and Open RAN in May; and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency has grown its robust portfolio of digital infrastructure projects, supporting more than 150 that have the potential to leverage more than $7.4 billion in financing. Also in April, Vice President Harris issued a “call to action” to the private sector and the philanthropic community to make direct investments and commitments to advance digital inclusion.
- The Department of State has established the framework to support the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement, and will soon announce its official launch and membership. This Council of representatives who reflect the diversity of the African Diaspora from African American and African immigrant communities will contribute to deepening ties between African Americans, African immigrants, and the African continent, a key source of strength for the United States and part of our competitive advantage.
- We announced our commitment to catalyze trade and investment deals and partnerships which will create jobs and foster shared prosperity for people across the African continent and the United States. In July, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s Scott Nathan led a delegation to the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Botswana, the premier gathering of U.S. businesses in Africa, where we announced that since December, the Biden-Harris Administration has helped close 75 new deals between the United States and African countries for a total estimated value of $5.7 billion in two-way trade and investment. These investments are part of our strategy to integrate the continent into global markets, and to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity for the United States to invest in Africa’s future.
- The Summit reaffirmed our focus on closing the infrastructure gap on the continent and unlocking Africa’s potential. Since the Summit, we have leveraged the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to advance some of the largest infrastructure projects on the continent to-date. In May, the Development Finance Corporation announced it was disbursing part of its $300 million loan facility to support the building of a first-of-its kind data center in Ghana. As of June, we were performing due diligence for a potential package of $250 million to finance the Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor, which may become the primary open-access transportation infrastructure connecting the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia with global markets through Angola.
- In addition, President Biden expressed his belief that African governments and people should have a seat at the table where major international issues are discussed and decided, and he tasked his team to support Africa’s candidacy for permanent representation at the UN Security Council and the African Union’s permanent membership in the G20. With Indian Prime Minister Modi’s support, no fewer than 15 members have publicly endorsed the AU’s candidacy, and we are working with G20 members ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September to ensure this issue receives a full hearing.
President Biden will visit Africa this year to showcase the United States’ commitment to the region.
The 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit marked a significant milestone in deepening partnerships and amplifying African voices, but there is more to do. President Biden will travel to Africa this year to cement the depth of our commitment to the continent and showcase our enduring commitment. In advance of this critical trip, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with African partners to move the U.S.-Africa partnership into a new phase.
In a 37-year diplomatic career devoted to Africa, Johnnie Carson was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and served as Ambassador to Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. He also served in Botswana, Mozambique, and Nigeria and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania. He was appointed in December by the Biden administration to the newly created role as Special Presidential Representative for U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation.