On Monday, January 22nd, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on a significant four-nation tour of Africa, starting in Cape Verde and continuing to Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Angola. This tour comes amid growing concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region and the increasing influence of Russia and China on the continent.
Blinken’s visit, which follows President Joe Biden’s 2022 Africa summit, aims to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to Africa despite global crises. Secretary of State Blinken emphasized the interconnected futures and prosperity of the U.S. and Africa, highlighting the continent’s increasing role in shaping global conversations.
In Cape Verde, Blinken praised the archipelago for being a “beacon of stability” and a “strong, principled voice.” The visit also included discussions on law enforcement cooperation and naval stops. Cape Verde’s Prime Minister Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva, while condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, expressed concerns about the recent spate of coups in Africa and affirmed the country’s commitment to liberal democracy.
The tour is set against a backdrop of geopolitical rivalry, with Russia and China expanding their influence in Africa through infrastructure projects and military support. Secretary Blinken’s visit to Ivory Coast coincides with the Africa Cup of Nations, where he will watch the host country play against Equatorial Guinea in a stadium built with Chinese support.
Blinken’s agenda includes discussions on economic issues and security, particularly the terrorist threat in the Sahel. The trip also addresses the military coup in Niger, a key U.S. partner in the region. The U.S. has been discussing several locations in West Africa for a new drone base following security concerns in Niger.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee described the trip as “forward-looking,” focusing on positive developments in Africa. The U.S. aims to highlight its response to African concerns, including health partnerships and food security.
This tour marks Blinken’s fourth trip to Africa as Secretary of State, underscoring the Biden administration’s focus on the continent. However, President Biden has yet to visit Africa, despite his previous promise to do so in 2023. The absence of a presidential visit, despite several Cabinet-level trips, has drawn scrutiny and highlights the importance of high-level engagement with Africa.
As Blinken continues his tour, the U.S.’s approach to balancing its interests with the growing presence of Russia and China in Africa will be closely watched. The trip represents a crucial opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen its partnerships and address key issues facing the continent.