US seeks long-term partnership with Africa: Biden
Aiming to keep pace with the Chinese investment in Africa, the Biden administration lays out more than $55 billion in support for Africa.
US President Joe Biden called on Wednesday for a long-term partnership with Africa, as US businesses unveiled billions of dollars for the continent where China has become a top player.
Addressing a summit that brought 49 African leaders to Washington, Biden claimed that the United States sought "partnerships -- not to create political obligation, to foster dependence, but to spur shared success and opportunity."
"When Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. The whole world succeeds," he said at the first such gathering since Barack Obama invited African leaders in 2014.
The Biden administration is laying out more than $55 billion in support over the three-day summit and on Wednesday welcomed US and African businesses, which promised more than $15 billion in trade deals.
Disregarding his own administration's performance, Biden told African leaders that good governance was critical to trade, pointing to the "core values that unite our people -- all our people, especially young people: freedom, opportunity, transparency, good governance."
"Africa's economic transition depends on good government, healthy populations and reliable and affordable energy," he said.
The US President announced a $100 million aid package for clean energy and the White House announced another $800 million in public and private financing for digital development in Africa.
China surpassed the US in investing in Africa
China in the past decade has surpassed the United States in investing in Africa, mostly through highly visible infrastructure projects, often funded through loans that have totaled more than $120 billion since the start of the century.
According to a Eurasia Group analysis, in 2021, China-Africa trade, at $254 billion, greatly outstripped US-Africa trade, which stood at $64.3 billion. Those figures are up from $12 billion and $21 billion, respectively, in 2002.
#China is reinforcing its economical presence in #Africa, as the #US scatters to boost its declining investment in the continent, amid fears of losing its influence. pic.twitter.com/G25CD8KtwW— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) August 17, 2022
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin claimed on Tuesday that both China and Russia were "destabilizing" Africa, saying Beijing's mega-contracts lacked transparency.
China denies US accusations it is imposing a "debt trap" in Africa and in turn has accused the United States of turning the continent into a geopolitical battlefield.
Beijing's Ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, rejected the idea ahead of the summit, citing a report that African countries owe three times more debt to Western institutions while pointing out that Chinese-built hospitals, highways, airports, and stadiums are "everywhere" in Africa.
Investing billions in technology
In one of its biggest corporate announcements, credit card leader Visa said it would pump $1 billion into Africa to develop digital payments -- an area in which China has emerged as a global leader.
Cisco and partner Cybastion said they would commit $858 million to bolster cybersecurity through 10 contracts across Africa, addressing a vulnerability that has held up online development.
The ABD Group said it would commit $500 million starting in the Ivory Coast to adopt cloud technology through data centers that can work with major US technology firms.
Technology leader Microsoft said it would employ satellites to bring internet access to some 10 million people, half of them in Africa.
The project will prioritize internet access in parts of Egypt, Senegal, and Angola that have not had access to the internet, often due to unreliable electricity.
In the same context, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken took part in the signing of a $504 million compact with Benin and Niger under the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which funds projects in countries that meet the US key standards on good governance.
The deal aims to connect Benin's port of Cotonou with landlocked Niger's capital Niamey, with the United States estimating benefits to 1.6 million people.