The U.S. and Africa

The U.S. seems more interested in escalating conflicts and creating conflicts than building stronger foreign relationships. This is mostly evident in the U.S. proxy war in Europe and in the U.S.-backed genocide in the Middle East. But it is also visible in leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban, abandoning millions of Afghans and in particular women, as well as drumming up tension with China related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, trade, and tariffs.

There are limitations in what a government can do globally, but many still wonder why the administration is so unengaged with both Latin America and Africa, areas of immense growth opportunities. This is odd given the close proximity to Latin America and the historic link to Africa for a large part of the U.S. population.

Africa in particular, with it is fast-growing population, currently at 1.5 billion. The population was less than 500 million in 1980 but passed a billion in 2007. As death rates are declining, populations are growing older and wars deaths are declining, the population of Africa is expected to double quickly and reach 3 billion in 2064. Overall, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the continent is expected to average 3.8% and 4.2% in 2024 and 2025, respectively. This is higher than projected global averages of 2.9% and 3.2%. The continent is set to remain the second-fastest-growing region after Asia.

The U.S. has seen a string of setbacks in Africa recently. In March, the U.S. military was asked to eave Niger. Adding insult to the injury, Russian forces have taken over the new vacate barracks built during the Trump administration to house counter-terror forces. Both China and Russia have established closer ties with a number of African countries. They are tired of being exploited by colonial imperialistic powers such as France, Great Britain and the U.S., and hope to build a better future with new relationships. For the past 30 years, the Chinese foreign minister’s first foreign trip has always been to Africa. This has paid dividends for China. In 2001, the U.S. traded roughly four times more with Africa than China. This ratio has since been reversed and there are now over 10,000 Chinese companies operating in Africa with over $2 trillion in value.

Joe Biden has actually not visited one single country in Africa during his presidency. There is no explanation why this is the case, but this is another clear signal that Africa is not on the priority list. This is a blunder not only geopolitically, but also economically. Biden promised at last year’s US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington that he would be the first U.S. president to travel to the continent since Obama visited Kenya and Ethiopia in 2015. This is not going to happen.

African countries may wonder why they need the U.S., another example of a country with a long history of exploitation of countries and people. After all, they have China for commercial needs and increasingly Russia for security needs. With more trade and security agreements, the ties can be even closer.  

The U.S. argues that it is capitalism, not communism, that has lifted billions around the world out of poverty. The African leaders are skeptical though as they watch the U.S. cultural values decline, social unrests, homelessness and slums, poor education systems, increased crimes and violence and they still have reservation about U.S. corruption and history their exploitation of the weak. The last thing the African nations would like, is to develop like the U.S.  

Another way the U.S. can try to compete in Africa is through robust energy exports, particularly by help developing natural gas infrastructure. Africa has the potential to be the continent of the 21st century and the best way to be part of that, is to work closer with the leaders of Africa. The U.S. should wake up and start spending more time and resources on Africa.

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