Following the summit between US and African leaders, the US must assure accountability and improve collaboration

Date:

Following the summit between US and African leaders, the US must assure accountability and improve collaboration

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Sunday, December 25, 2022
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The White House made it clear that African countries need to be seen as equal partners and that the region has a tremendous amount of potential.

  • In addition to building infrastructure, the US government has promised an extra $2.5 billion for humanitarian aid to help fight food insecurity in Africa.

  • After meeting with the leaders of six countries with elections in 2023, President Biden promised $165 million to help with elections and good governance in Africa over the next year.

  • An “Africa coordinating office” would also help the U.S. government avoid duplicating or conflicting policy efforts while making it easier for African leaders to interact with the more than a dozen departments and agencies that have operations on the continent.

  • In the same vein, it is crucial to guarantee policy coherence with initiatives of a similar nature supplied by other African partners of the U.S. government.

More than 40 African presidents attended the US-Africa Leaders Summit last week, which brought them to Washington, DC, for three days of discussions on a wide range of topics with Vice President Biden, congressional leaders, American diplomats, business executives, and members of the African diaspora. Because the previous administration didn’t like the continent and countries like China and Russia were becoming more powerful in the area, the summit was an indirect way to start talking to the mainland again. The White House made it clear that African countries needed to be seen as equal partners and that the region has tremendous potential. But what was promised, and how can those promises be kept now that the summit is over?

There have been many promises of money, and many of them need to be approved by Congress. Importantly, all of these pledges are in high-priority areas with the potential to change the game. For instance, the “Agenda 2063” of the African Union outlines a number of goals that will be supported by $55 billion over the course of three years from the Biden administration. One of the main areas for this assistance is infrastructure, which is also a key concern for African governments.

Also, the administration promised to put more than $350 million into the “Digital Transformation with Africa” (DTA) initiative to help build digital infrastructure and an environment that helps it grow. It also promised to give $10 million directly to the Health Electrification and Telecommunication Alliance (HETA), a project that aims to give more public health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa access to electricity and the internet by 2030. In addition to building infrastructure, the US government has promised an extra $2.5 billion for humanitarian aid to help fight food insecurity in Africa.

Other promises were more symbolic, like supporting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), endorsing the U.S.-Africa Food Security Framework, and backing the AU’s bid to join the Group of Twenty (G20) for good. The AU has wanted the second declaration for a long time, but it isn’t clear what it actually means or how it would affect the already tense structures of the G20, which are based on getting everyone to agree on something. A number of U.S. government leaders also backed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which lets certain sub-Saharan African countries sell their goods duty-free in the U.S. However, since AGOA will expire in 2025—after the present government has left office—it seems unlikely that it will be renewed at this time.

Other regions, though, were quieter. Even though the summit happened on the same day as Biden’s Summit for Democracy the year before, good governance got much less attention. This is probably because leaders from all countries in good standing with the AU and with which the US has diplomatic relations were invited to the summit. After meeting with the leaders of six countries with elections in 2023, President Biden promised $165 million to help with elections and good governance in Africa over the next year. Nevertheless, this is less than the $258.8 million the United States gave to sub-Saharan Africa for democracy, human rights, and governance in 2022.

The crucial test of the Summit’s long-term success will be whether or not American leaders are held accountable to maintain these contradictory commitments and whether or not African leaders deliver for their populations. Thanks to the appointment of Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the Summit was a success. Carson will work to make sure that the discussions lead to effective action and to tell the difference between “new money” and reallocations of commitments that have already been made. The work of Ambassador Carson should be backed up by a system like the one used to track foreign aid that includes information on how much money the US government gave to specific countries and industries during the Summit. The same encouragement should be given to American companies that pledged during the summit to take part in such a platform.

An “Africa coordinating office” would also help the U.S. government avoid duplicating or conflicting policy efforts while also making it easier for African leaders to interact with the more than a dozen departments and agencies that have operations on the continent. Another option is to expand the White House’s Prosper Africa Secretariat, which oversees intra-agency U.S. government programs linked to trade and investment in the area. In the same vein, it is crucial to guarantee policy coherence with initiatives of a similar nature supplied by other African partners of the U.S. government. For example, the EU-Africa Summit in February 2022 ended with the announcement of a 150 billion euro infrastructure plan called “Global Gateway.” This plan will also help Africa move into the digital age and improve its health systems. Similar to this, $5 billion in grant financing from the U.S. government could strengthen the African Union’s and African Development Bank’s Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) by “de-risking” priority projects.

Finally, more frequent summits between the United States and Africa might help the momentum last. But they must also include a broader range of African leaders, such as lawmakers, mayors, community leaders, and national leaders. This would make it more likely that high-level financial and policy promises would be kept on the ground by making it easier for people there to own and understand them.

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