Biden Pumps Up African Relations With Plans To Boost Funds

After wrapping up a U.S.-Africa Leader’s Summit on Thursday, President Joe Biden told reporters that he intends to visit sub-Saharan Africa next year, saying that he was committed to increasing American attention and funding for the growing continent.

In addition to his promise of a personal visit, Biden also declared to the 49 leaders gathered for the summit that Africa is an invaluable part of any discussion of global concern.

Biden used the summit as the latest part of a diplomatic outreach with African leaders. With China overtaking the U.S. in trade with Africa and expanding its military presence, the administration wants to strengthen ties with those nations.

Rapid population growth, natural resources, and a large U.N. voting bloc make the continent vital to global powers. Several leaders said the Biden administration should avoid forcing them to choose between the U.S. and its international competitors on trade issues.

President Biden formally endorsed the African Union as a permanent member of the Group of 20 on Thursday. Additionally, he announced plans to invest $2 billion to strengthen food security on the continent and $165 million to help African nations conduct peaceful elections. Over the next three years, Biden’s administration will spend $55 billion on government programming in Africa — over and above the billions that American private companies would invest.

Elections in African nations are essential indicators of democracy on the continent. There have already been violent attacks in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as the country prepares for its Feb. election. There’s also a rebel conflict in the Congo that might complicate elections. There have been several coups in West Africa in the last year, and military juntas rule Burkina Faso and Mali.

Nigeria and Congo have already received nearly $50 million from the United States to support civil society.

During Thursday’s session, Senegalese President Macky Sall thanked Biden for his commitment to Africa. He also said African countries face steep challenges – from fending off climate change to tackling rising food insecurity.