Key Takeaways from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
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Key Takeaways from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

Brownstein Client Alert, Dec. 16, 2022

The Biden administration hosted the second U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Dec. 13–15, in Washington, D.C.; this event was the corollary to a similar summit hosted by President Obama in 2014. The summit, which included participation from 50 African country leaders, signals a return of U.S. foreign policy focus on Africa, which in part is aimed at strengthening U.S. partnerships in Africa to counter China’s growing role as a trade and diplomatic partner to the region. Over the course of the three days, the administration announced a number of new initiatives to grow two-way trade and investment, bolster African health systems, engage the diaspora and foster technological innovation in African countries, announcing plans to invest over $55 billion in Africa over the next three years. President Biden also announced he, as well as Vice President Harris and Secretary Blinken, would travel to Africa in 2023, although an official itinerary or timing of the trip has not been disclosed.

The wide range of new investments and projects will require a significant administration effort to operationalize the new programs, with President Biden appointing Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former assistant secretary of the State Department for African affairs and ambassador to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, to serve as the presidential representative for U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation and key administration official to coordinate these efforts. Many of the newly announced investments will also require congressional approval, leaving it unclear whether all of the programs announced during the summit will be fully endorsed by the upcoming divided Congress.

In a White House fact sheet, the spate of new initiatives were broadly classified into several categories, including global governance and diplomatic engagement, people-to-people ties, and technology and innovation, with an emphasis in the number of new announcements given to initiatives geared toward trade, investment and inclusive economic growth. President Biden also committed to press for the African Union (AU) to become a member of the G20, which would give the 55-member group a much more prominent voice on major issues such as international financial stability, inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.

Key initiatives and investments announced at the summit include:


Two-Way Trade and Investment

U.S. Investment in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: President Biden announced the administration will work with Congress in an effort to invest $21 billion through the International Monetary Fund to support resilience and recovery efforts in low- and middle-income African countries. As part of the announcement, the administration also called for all bilateral and private creditors to provide debt relief to debt-distressed countries in Africa.

Memorandum of Understanding with the African Continental Free-Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai signed an MoU with AfCFTA to expand collaboration between the United States and AfCFTA, with the goal of developing inclusive trade practices, promoting responsible digital trade and expanding economic growth across the Free-Trade Area’s 54 member states. The MoU includes a commitment to conduct annual meetings to discuss the implementation of the agreement, with the first meeting expected sometime in 2023.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Regional Compacts: The MCC signed regional agreements with the governments of Benin and Niger totaling approximately $504 million, with additional contributions of $15 million from Benin and Niger, to support bolstering regional trade, investment and economic integration. The agreements also include over $150 million to support climate adaptation investments. This follows the MCC having signed regional compacts with several other African countries, including Lesotho and Malawi, earlier in President Biden’s term, and is expected to preface additional MCC agreements in further countries in Africa. Additionally, the MCC announced on Dec. 13 that Togo, Senegal and The Gambia were eligible to enter into further agreements with the MCC.

Export-Import Bank Investments in African Countries: EXIM signed several new agreements at the summit including a $500 million MoU with the African Export-Import Bank to support engagement with the African diaspora and increasing commercial ties to the continent, as well as an agreement to facilitate as much as $300 million in EXIM financing for U.S. exports to Africa, with an emphasis on U.S. exports that support African infrastructure, transportation, digital technology and renewable energy projects.

Prosper Africa Investments in U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment: Prosper Africa announced plans to provide upwards of $170 million through partnerships with the public and private sectors in African countries, which it expects will help boost African exports to the United States by $1 billion. New partnerships include an e-commerce and digital trade alliance with U.S. companies, a $25 million partnership with TradeMark East Africa and USAID to establish an African investment facility entitled “Trade Catalyst Africa,” and new partnerships with the Institutional Investor Network and global advisory firm MiDA Advisors that will channel large-scale investments into African infrastructure and build enduring relationships between the trillion-dollar U.S. pension community and their African counterparts.



U.S. Investment in the African Health Workforce: The administration will work with Congress to invest as much as $1.33 billion annually from 2022–2024 in initiatives aimed at expanding and strengthening the health workforce in African countries, including by implementing workforce training programs, education and investments targeted at country-specific needs in the health care space. This will include initiatives such as USAID’s Accelerating Primary Health Care Collaborative, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Public Health Institute (NPHI) program, which provides technical assistance and training to Africa CDC staff.

USAID Launch of Accelerating Primary Health Care Collaborative (APHC-C): APHC-C aims to work with partner countries in Africa to bolster the primary health care infrastructure and the workforce. APHC-C is initially aiming to target Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria for investment, contributing approximately $415 million in USAID funds annually in 2022 and 2023.


Energy and Climate Adaptation

U.S.-Africa Clean Tech Energy Network: Power Africa announced the launch of the Clean Tech Energy Network (CTEN), in collaboration with Prosper Africa, to mobilize an expected $350 million in energy deals through partnerships with the U.S. government and private sector. New agreements will focus on connecting renewable energy technology companies in the U.S. and African private sector to communities in Africa with low access to electricity infrastructure.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Investments: The DFC announced several new investments in the African continent focusing on improving energy access and renewable energy technologies. These include a $25 million loan to Golomoti JCM Solar to construct the first solar power plant with a grid-connected battery energy storage system in sub-Saharan Africa, and over $180 million in investments into African and international funds to promote renewable energy solutions, including the SDG Investment Fund, the Africa Renewable Energy Fund II and the Mirova Gigaton Fund.

Accelerating Women’s Empowerment in Energy (AWEE): Announced by the Department of State, AWEE will provide $1 million in initial funding aimed at increasing women’s access to green jobs through grants to local organizations, focusing especially on addressing labor market disparities in Kenya and South Africa.


Digital Transformation:

Digital Transformation with Africa (DTA) Initiative: Through the DTA, the administration will aim to work with Congress to invest over $350 million in Africa’s digital ecosystem, including through targeted investment in promoting U.S. partnerships with private sector cyber companies in Africa, education institutions and the African diaspora, as well as in e-government service delivery, cyber research and development, and organizations working to promote the inclusion of women and other marginalized people through and within the digital ecosystem. The DTA will aim to facilitate over $450 million in financing along with the initial investment round, and will prioritize investment areas in line with the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy.

U.S.-Africa Partnership in Space: During the summit’s U.S.-Africa Space Forum, Nigeria and Rwanda became the first African countries to sign the Artemis Accords, a set of guiding principles to inform the development of space exploration with 23 global country signatories. As part of the forum, participants discussed recent new investments in the U.S.-Africa space partnership, including a partnership with the Rwanda Space Agency and ATLAS Space Operations to bring a teleport and large satellite antenna to the global space community, Planet Labs PBC investments across several African countries to build satellite imagery and geospatial solutions infrastructure, and the expansion of SpaceX’s broadband service Starlink into Nigeria, the first country in Africa where the service has yet been made available.


People-to-People Ties:

President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States (PAC-ADE): By way of executive order, President Biden directed the Secretary of State to establish the PAC-ADE to promote increased communications with U.S. officials and the African diaspora in the United States, in line with the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The PAC-ADE will focus its efforts toward advancing equity for the African diaspora, as well as strengthening economic, social and cultural ties between the United States, African communities and the global African diaspora.

Expansion of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI): Vice President Harris announced the administration will aim to work with Congress to provide over $100 million in investment for YALI, aimed at bolstering efforts to scale leadership development initiatives, increase access to skills training, especially among women and other underrepresented groups, and enhance alumni networking in Africa. The investment will also be used to support a new Young African Leaders Exchange, a virtual platform allowing members of the diaspora to directly connect with YALI alumni. A YALI Alumni Symposium is expected to be held by the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in South Africa in March 2023.


Identifying New Opportunities

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit reinvigorated the United States’ focus on Africa, expanding it beyond the traditional trade relationship to one focused on infrastructure development, people-to-people ties and innovation. We expect the administration, with the recent release of the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and the appointment of Ambassador Carson as the administration official responsible for corralling and implementing the myriad commitments, to devote more policy attention to developments on the continent over the next two years. This attention will create new opportunities for U.S. companies looking to invest in Africa, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, critical minerals, energy, health care and innovation. For more information on how companies can engage with the administration and identify new business opportunities, please contact Samantha Carl-Yoder and Lauren Diekman.


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