The USA remembered about Africa


Evelyn Hockstein/AFP/Getty Images

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text

Washington suddenly called an African summit.

The last Africa-USA summit was organized by President Obama. But he just knew a lot about the question. It was already in 2014. Trump did not hide his indifference to the Black continent, but Biden seized on the idea of reviving ties with African countries and even decided to make this direction one of the central ones for American diplomacy.

 "This decade will be decisive," says Judd Devermont, executive director for African Affairs of the US National Security Council, "we will see how the structure of the world order will change in the coming years. And the Biden administration believes that Africa will play one of the decisive roles here."

Everyone was invited to the summit in Washington. Well, of course, except for Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan. The President of the Congo arrived, whose rebels from the March 23 Movement are mowing down hundreds of people, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who has just signed a rather shaky agreement with the troubled Tigray state, and even the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo, a man who has not held on to power at all since 1979 – this is a record among living heads of state. And what if people vote? In the last election, he collected 94.9 percent of the vote. The states, of course, grumbled, called the elections a simulacrum, but they were invited to the summit.

Molly Fee, an employee of the African Department of the State Department, believes that if those with whom relations are not very good were invited, it means that the president has an understanding that "it is finally necessary, as a result of a serious discussion, to bring to mind the legislative act AGOA "Development of Africa", adopted in the United States in 2000. It should stimulate trade, give Africans expanded opportunities for development, and in exchange, by 2025, generally lead to the removal of customs barriers."

Last summer, the United States unveiled a new concept of regional policy called "Africa". Its task is to fundamentally reconsider the meaning of the US presence on the continent, namely in Sub-Sugar, "black" Africa and to resist the growing influence of China and Russia there.

China, the world's first investor in developing (and not so) countries and in Africa, is present everywhere, especially where something lies in the bowels.

In recent years, Russia has strengthened its presence – both military and political – by strengthening ties primarily with those countries that in early March decided not to cast their votes to the UN in support of a resolution condemning Russia.

When Washington realized that "we are losing them," a whole Blinken was sent to the continent this summer, who concluded that it was really worth establishing "real partnerships" with Africa, otherwise in some countries they already go there with Russian tricolors.

After that, the American establishment began reshuffling and appointments, which in diplomacy are commonly called "signals". Namely, the signals of a change of tone in relation to Africa. Biden called many experts on the continent to the front line.

Samantha Powers headed the Agency for International Development, the highest US body dealing, in addition to the State Department, with relations with other countries. Dana Banks, a diplomat who worked in South Africa, joined the National Security Council. And most importantly, Linda Thomas-Greenfield became the US representative to the UN. She worked at U.S. embassies in many African countries, was Ambassador to Liberia and under Obama became Undersecretary of State for African Affairs. Then Trump sent her backstage, and her talents came in handy under Biden.

The American president decided to play on the protection of fundamental values: fair governance, democracy, protection of human rights, "especially women and girls, representatives of sexual minorities, disabled people, all kinds of non-traditional ethnic and religious communities." Not all African leaders were happy to respond to such initiatives, especially with regard to representatives of sexual minorities. But Biden does not insist, keeps his distance and demonstrates that he does not interfere in the interpretation of folk traditions.

The main idea of the American president, which was voiced at this summit, is the admission of Africa – represented by the African Union – to the "twenty" and granting it a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. As for the G20, in the coming weeks, the United States will begin negotiations with India, which will become the chairman of the organization in 2023.

"We need the voices of African countries in all international discussions, be it the global economy, democracy, governance, climate, health or security," says Judd Devermont, "For this it is necessary that representatives of Africa occupy permanent chairs in all international organizations and conferences."

And then the question arises: how much will Africa itself pull all this, where are its interests here?

Political scientist Serigne Bamba Gaye, professor at the Laval Institute in Quebec, believes that "the historical reference points of Africans, especially from sub-Saharan countries, are different from Western ones. For the West, everything depends on the outcome of the Second World War, and for Africans – on the end of the Cold War. Many countries received support from the USSR, which helped them to free themselves from Western influence. And these relations with the post-Soviet space are still preserved. Today, in no case should they accept the tough position of one side or the other."

But now it is generally difficult to understand how Africa can act from a single position in the same "twenty" or in the UN. Contradictions between countries have arisen even in approaches to combating the pandemic. And the development of a common position, for example, on Ukraine will easily lead to a situation in which countries will officially stand on different sides of the conflict.