From Dec. 13–15, President Biden will host heads of state and leaders from across the African continent for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit, which was formally announced by President Biden in July, and follows shortly on the heels of the recently released Sub-Saharan National Security Strategy and the National Security Strategy, aims to serve as a demonstration of the Biden administration’s commitment to the African continent and provide a forum for new joint initiatives between the United States and countries in Africa. Senior officials from the Biden administration who are expected to attend include President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other State Department leaders, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the U.S. Trade Representative, USAID leadership, and many others. The summit will also feature senior officials from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, industry, NGOs and civil society. According to senior White House officials, approximately 50 heads of state and senior government officials from African countries are to attend the summit.
The first iteration of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which was held by President Obama in 2014, included the announcement of $20 billion in new U.S. energy investments in Sub-Saharan Africa and a number of new private sector commitments to invest and partner with African countries on initiatives in energy, financial services, climate change, food security and health care, among other areas. This year’s summit is expected to prioritize similar issues, while placing an even greater emphasis on bilateral trade and investment initiatives. Senior White House officials coordinating the summit have noted that African governments at this summit are seeking to avoid the kinds of “paternalistic” engagement the continent has with other regions. The Biden administration is also expected to press African governments to address democracy and human rights concerns, hallmarks of U.S. foreign policy that went largely unaddressed during the Trump administration. Although an official account of new programs that the United States will introduce as part of the summit has not yet been released, senior White House officials have noted the summit will include new initiatives to increase U.S. engagement with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as initiatives to boost the continent’s recovery from COVID-19, bolster food security and promote investment in infrastructure, health and renewable energy projects, among other priorities.
The forum will focus on civil society, multilateral meetings between Biden and African heads of state, secretary and cabinet-level meetings for trade, energy and diplomacy, and a collection of industry-focused meetings under the purviews of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. Information on the three days and an illustrative set of events during the summit can be found below.
Day 1 (Dec. 13) – Civil Society Day
- African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum – This forum will elevate our diaspora engagement to strengthen the dialogue between U.S. officials and the diaspora in the United States and provide a platform for young African and diaspora leaders. Interested parties are encouraged to self-nominate (information here) and submit applications by Nov. 8.
- African Growth and Opportunity Act Ministerial Meeting – the ministerial will be hosted by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai with Sub-Saharan African trade ministers and senior officials.
Day 2 (Dec. 14) – Business Day
- U.S.-Africa Business Forum (USABF) – Hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa, in partnership with the Prosper Africa initiative, USABF will focus on advancing two-way trade and investment partnerships that bolster Africa’s role in the global economy, scale innovation and entrepreneurship, and drive advancements in key sectors. The USABF will also include “Deal Rooms” that will showcase commitments made by U.S. companies investing in and partnering with Africa. Additional information can be found here.
Day 3 (Dec. 15) – Leaders Day
- The Leaders Day will feature government meetings and events for the visiting country delegations.
There will also be a number of side events held by think tanks and associations, featuring key African government leaders and thematic issues of interest. Additional details about the summit and events surrounding it will be released in the coming weeks. For more information on how you or your organization can participate in the event, please reach out to the contributors of this alert.
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