Summit was about 'what America can do with African nations, not for them' - US Secretary of State

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  • Antony Blinken said the US-Africa Leaders Summit was about an equal partnership with the continent.
  • African business leaders were exposed to the "unmatched power of the American private sector".
  • The US called on Africa to make informed choices and avoid "opaque" transactions with other global powers.

The United States-Africa Leaders Summit was not about what America could do for Africa, but what it could do in equal partnership with the continent, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his reflection on the summit, which ended last week.

The US' approach for Africa, going into 2023, was anchored on Blinken's pitch during a visit to South Africa in August.

"Earlier this year in South Africa, I had an opportunity to set out the administration's strategy for Africa. At its core, it really can be distilled to a single word: partnership. 

"So, our approach is about what America can do with African nations and people, not for them. And that's what the US-Africa Leaders Summit has really been all about," he said.

Blinken arrived on the continent on 7 August, with his first stop in South Africa, then moving to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

He arrived at a critical time as America sought Africa's audience on many topics, but chief among it was the war in Ukraine and the civil war in Ethiopia's Tigray province.

He reiterated that the US had confidence in Africa and its role in global affairs.

READ | US Africa Summit: Felix Tshisekedi avoids meeting to discuss instability in eastern DRC

"We committed to ensuring African countries have a prominent seat at the table wherever consequential decisions are being made, and consequential issues are being discussed– and we've delivered on that," he said.

The US, at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September, endorsed the security council's intention to add an African permanent member. 

At the summit, US President Joe Biden declared his support for the African Union becoming a permanent member of the G20.

With China as America's biggest rival in Africa, Blinken said Biden was committed to exposing Africa to the "unmatched power of the American private sector".

According to Blinken, this was evidenced by the fact that 47 African countries were already involved in more than 800 business deals, which were "two-way" worth an estimated R306 billion.

At the summit, Biden announced more deals that almost doubled the R306 billion. 

This, Blinken said, was because of interactions among more than 300 American and African companies at the summit.

The US has long accused China of "opaque" business deals in Africa that seek to exploit nations.

Blinken said the US had made an effort to show African nations that it had better options available, compared to its rivals.

"Too often, international infrastructure and trade deals are opaque. They're coercive. They lead to projects that are environmentally destructive, poorly built, that import or abuse workers, that foster corruption, and burden countries with unmanageable debt.

"We have a different approach. We offer investments that are transparent, high-quality and sustainable for the planet. We empower local communities. We respect the rights of their people. We listen to their people, to their needs.

"America will not dictate Africa's choices - neither should anyone else. The right to make these choices belongs to Africans and Africans alone," he said.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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