Monrovia — The United States Government has announced that 49 African Heads of State, along with the Chairman of the African Union, have been invited by President Joe Biden to the landmark U.S.- Africa leadership summit in Washington D.C. in mid-December.
The announcement was made by two senior members of the Biden-Harris’ administration-the U.S. National Security Council Senior Advisor for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Ms. Dana Banks and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Robert Scott.
In a digital press briefing with journalists from across the continent on Tuesday, Ms. Banks, also a Special Assistant to U.S. President Biden said the three-day summit in Washington will highlight how the U.S. and African nations are strengthening their partnerships to advance their shared priorities.
The summit, she said, 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.
“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,” she said.
“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 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, scheduled for Dec. 13-15, is one of President Biden’s top foreign-policy priorities this year. It is the first opportunity for his administration to showcase how it views the future of U.S.-Africa relations on its home turf amid increasing geopolitical tension with Russia and China and efforts to reset U.S.-Africa relations after the Trump’s presidency, according to observers.
These sentiments were echoed by Ms. Banks when she said: “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. As Secretary Blinken underscored when he traveled to the region earlier this year, Africa will shape not just the future of the African people but of the world.”
She added: “With one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, largest free trade area, most diverse ecosystems, and one of the largest regional voting groups in the United Nations, African contributions, partnerships, and leadership are essential to meeting this era’s defining challenges. The continent’s dynamic economies and populations really do provide the foundation for a bright future for the continent and the United States.”
The summit comes at a crucial point in U.S.-Africa relations as the continent seeks to recover from the global coronavirus pandemic and faces new economic and political pressures amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
Speaking further, the U.S. National Security Council’s Senior Advisor for the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit noted that President Biden believes that U.S. collaboration with African leaders as well as civil society, business, diaspora, women and youth leaders, is essential to tackling these shared challenges while seizing opportunities, including increasing sustainable food production; strengthening health systems and combating the COVID-19 pandemic. And at the same time, “prepare for future pandemics; responding to the escalating climate crisis; building a strong and inclusive global economy while providing life-saving humanitarian assistance; and strengthening global democratic norms, institutions, and the rule of law.”
The Summit’s Agenda
Giving detail on the three-day event, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Robert Scott revealed that on day one of the summit, there will be series of forums including an African and Diaspora Young Leaders forum; a civil society, and a peace, security, and governance forums. Discussions on climate and health will also be held, he said.
This event, he said, will bring together youth leaders, civil society, political actors and climate advocates.
“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,” Mr. Scott outlined.
The second day, he noted, will be dedicated to the U.S.-Africa Business Forum – a full day of opportunities for African and U.S. businesses to come together and to meet with delegations from the continent. While the third day, dubbed the ‘leaders’ day’ with President Biden and heads of delegations and heads of state from Africa.
Since his ascendancy, President Biden has made clear that renewing democracy in the United States and around the world is essential to meeting the “unprecedented challenges of our time.”
In December 2021, President Biden held the first of two Summits for Democracy, which brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector in “to renew democracy at home and confront autocracies abroad.”
During the summit, President Biden led world leaders in making series of commitment in area such as bolstering free and independent media; fighting corruption; defending free and fair elections; strengthening civic capacity; advancing the civic and political leadership of women, girls, and marginalized community members; and harnessing technology for democratic renewal.
State Department’s officials said participants at this year’s summit, which will take place exactly one year after he maiden edition, are expected to take stock of the progress made and forge a common path ahead.
President Biden, in a statement issued in July this year, said the upcoming summit will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increase cooperation on shared global priorities.
Meanwhile, in Liberia, the government is relishing the opportunity provided by Biden’s invitation to boost its standing with Liberia’s closest ally amid staunch criticism that it has not gained Washington’s support.