In a bid to strengthen the relations between the United States and African countries, President Joe Biden will be hosting African leaders in Washington, D.C. from December 13th-15th. Labeled the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the event will span three days with each day dedicated to a specific agenda. In a November 22nd teleconference attended by LittleAfrica News, Dana Banks, Special Assistant to President Biden and National Security Council Senior Advisor for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and Robert Scott, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs’ Deputy Assistant Secretary, broke down the agenda of the summit.
Dana Banks opened the teleconference stating, “President Biden has invited 49 African heads of state and the head of the AU to Washington for a three-day summit to really highlight how the U.S. and African nations are strengthening our partnerships to advance our shared priorities. The summit reflects the U.S. strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa, which really emphasizes the critical importance of the region in meeting this era’s defining challenges.”
Banks continued, “We expect some of the outcomes to be a deepened and expanded reflection of our long-term U.S.-Africa partnership while we advance our shared priorities. We aim to amplify African voices to collaboratively meet this era’s defining challenges, and really, while we leverage the best of America, including our government, our private sector, our civil society, our diaspora, to uplift and empower African institutions, citizens, and nations.
The summit is really rooted in the recognition that Africa is a key geopolitical player, one that is shaping our present and will shape our future.”
Robert Scott in his remarks shared the three-day program and emphasized the critical role of the African Diaspora. “The first day is our widest aperture day. We’re having a series of forums – an African and Diaspora Young Leaders forum; a civil society forum; a peace, security, and governance forum. There will be discussions on climate as well as on health. The second day is dedicated to the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, and a full day of opportunities for African and U.S. businesses to come together and to meet with delegations from the continent. And the third day is the leaders day, obviously, with President Biden and heads of delegation, heads of state from the continent involved.”
The Biden Administration sees the summit as an opportunity to show the U.S.’s commitment to Africa. The summit will be a venue to discuss matters relating to building new economic relationships. Democracy, good governance, and human rights will be on the table as well. The amplification of ties between African nations and the diaspora will be part of the agenda. “As you know, the African Union has identified the African diaspora as the sixth region of the African Union. And we also see the diaspora as a huge resource and opportunity for engagement here. So, this event on the first day will bring together youth leaders, civil society, political actors, creatives, and folks involved in climate and other areas. I think what we’re seeing is a lot of interest in the event. Let me just point out that one of the areas – there’ll be a breakout session on education, a breakout session on creatives, and a breakout session on climate and energy.”
The second day of the summit will see the U.S.-Africa Business forum take place. The forum will be co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Corporate Council on Africa. The goal of the meeting will be to improve and build business relationships between the U.S. and Africa. Over 100 African companies and over 100 American companies will attend the forum. Prosper Africa, a group of government agencies working together to create commercial agreements between U.S. and African companies will host what will be called a Deal Room. The Deal Room will enable conversations between African political and business leaders and their American counterparts. The shift away from aid to trade will be on the agenda, particularly regarding how the African Continental Free Trade Area can be effectively harnessed to boost economic activity in Africa. Topics such as agriculture, health, infrastructure, and technological innovation, that affect the daily lives of Africans and Americans will be discussed.
As of November 22nd, 45 heads of state and the AU Commissioner had been confirmed. The heads of state from Mali, Sudan, Guinea, and Burkina Faso were not invited. These countries were not invited because their leaders took power through a coup d’état. However, some of the leaders invited to the summit have standing accusations of repression, violence, and human rights violations against them.
According to Today News Africa the Biden Administration used specific requirements in determining which heads of state to invite.
“President Biden invited all sub-Saharan and North African governments that 1) have not been suspended by the African Union, 2) of states the U.S. government recognizes, and 3) of states with which we exchange Ambassadors,” a White House Security Council spokesperson wrote in an email to Today News Africa.
President Biden said he would be looking forward to the summit. “I look forward to working with African governments, civil society, diaspora communities across the United States, and the private sector to continue strengthening our shared vision for the future of U.S.-Africa relations,” he said.
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