VP Harris Kicks Off US-Africa Leaders Summit

On Tuesday, US VP Kamala Harris opened the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. The three-day gathering brings together leaders from 49 African countries and the African Union (AU) amid growing competition between the US and China on the continent.

VP Harris Kicks Off US-Africa Leaders Summit
Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via The Guardian]

Facts

  • On Tuesday, US VP Kamala Harris opened the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. The three-day gathering brings together leaders from 49 African countries and the African Union (AU) amid growing competition between the US and China on the continent.
  • Hosted by the White House, the first high-level US-Africa gathering since 2014 will reportedly focus on issues such as health, food security, climate change, and civil wars, as well as trade and investment opportunities to "address the shared challenges we face."
  • Announcing an additional $100M investment to ramp up the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Harris pointed to the "enormous potential" of the continent’s demographics "for the world in terms of economic growth." About 60% of Africa's population is under 25, which is projected to reach 80% by 2050.
  • A day earlier, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also announced that the Biden admin. would provide $55B in economic, health, and security funding over the next three years to support Africa in achieving its development goals in line with the AU's Agenda 2063.
  • The event also featured the US-Africa Space Forum, where Nigeria and Rwanda became the first African countries to sign the Artemis Accords established by NASA and the State Dept. in 2020.
  • US Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin cautioned several African leaders at a panel against alleged "destabilizing" activities by China and Russia in Africa, blaming Beijing's lack of transparency in its growing economic engagement in Africa and Moscow's continued trade in "cheap weapons" and deployment of mercenaries.

Sources: Associated Press, New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Al Arabiya, Nasa, Rfi.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Global Times. Though Washington pretends that it wants to close the growing trust gap between the US and Africa, the Biden admin. still sees Africa merely as a pawn in its strategic goal of competing with China. However, African leaders have long known that the US isn't concerned with cooperation for mutual benefit, but solely with its own interests. Beyond the bluster, Africa is unlikely to sustainably benefit from the summit.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Quartz.  After the 2014 US-Africa summit, which failed to produce any meaningful policy change, Washington is looking this time to finally treat Africa as a partner rather than a problem. It's the US that increasingly depends on a growing Africa, not the other way around, which is why Biden's summit will include dialogues surrounding current and future leadership in the spheres of economics, sustainability, and governance.