13.12.2022 Author: Oleg Pavlov

What can Russia and the world expect from the US-Africa Leaders Summit?

The first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit since 2014 will be held in Washington on December 13-15. On December 7, the first preparatory events and conferences dedicated to this summit began in the US capital. The summit is presented as a large-scale event and it will mark a turning point in US-Africa relations. The arrival of 49 African heads of state and government is planned, with the exception of those whom the United States itself has excluded from the list because they do not meet Washington’s “high standards” in the field of democracy.

The goals of the summit have been announced to be the most ambitious: to strengthen the commitment of the United States and Africa to democracy and human rights, to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and future pandemics, to work together to strengthen regional and global health, to promote food security, to advance peace and security, to respond to the climate crisis and to strengthen ties with the African diaspora. In any case, this is how US President Joe Biden defined them in his speech back in July and these objectives are now repeated in every way by Washington’s propagandists operating under the banner of a “free press.”

Over the past year and a half, Washington has backed up its ambitions with a sharp intensification of African policy: new ambassadors were appointed to many African countries and a large-scale economic forum was held in Morocco in August. Furthermore, the United States began to show unprecedented activity in resolving regional conflicts, such as the intra-Ethiopian one (the struggle of the central government against rebels from the TPLF), disagreements between the DRC and Rwanda in connection with the activities of the M23 rebel group on Congolese territory, contradictions between Egypt and Ethiopia over the distribution of water resources after the creation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile, and many others. Over the past year alone, there have been more than a hundred visits by American politicians, including delegations of congressmen and senators to African countries, as well as numerous high-level telephone calls. American business, with the full support of the State Department, actively and not always unsuccessfully courted the most resource-rich and politically influential countries on the continent, such as South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Zambia, including helping to promote pro-American figures to power.

Since June 2019, the United States has entered into 800 bilateral agreements with 45 African countries, and its investments are estimated at $50 billion.  $1.3 billion has been pledged for humanitarian purposes, mainly to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa.

At the UN, Washington also pursued an aggressive policy towards African states by using the “carrot and stick” approach and drawing them into anti-Russian positions. However, this did not lead to any significant results: almost half of the African states continue to adhere to a neutral stance regarding the conflict in Ukraine, and the other half, although they vote against Russia due to Western pressure, nevertheless have not imposed sanctions against our country and do not participate in any restriction regimes against Russian economic or political interests.

All this, coupled with the expressed criticism in African countries of American and Western policy in general, including in the economic sphere, where the stranglehold of the IMF and the World Bank actually prohibits the development of industry on the African continent, is forcing the United States to modify its approaches to the summit and its goals.

According to available information, the summit will be structured as follows: on December 13, the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum will open, which will be held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, according to Washington, will increase the level of engagement with the African diaspora and, as they put it, “provide young African leaders and people of African descent living outside Africa with a platform to develop innovative solutions to pressing problems.” The forum will include three breakout sessions on higher education, the creative industry and environmental justice. The main countries will be, of course, US allies – Ghana and Liberia.

In parallel with this event, as it has emerged, a civil society forum will be held at the US Institute for Peace, where it is planned to raise three main topics: a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development; Africa, which is characterized by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law; a people-driven Africa that relies on the potential of the African people, especially women, the youth and those who care for children. The session, as the organizers assure, “will highlight a wide range of civil society views on issues of importance to Africa, and will emphasize the need to take into account the views of African civil society within the framework of the summit.” The delegations of Cape Verde, Gambia and Zambia have been invited to speak on these topics. All of them adhere to a pro-Western course and are heavily dependent on Washington.

The economic component will not be forgotten either. On the same day, the Washington Convention Center will host a conference for African trade ministers, primarily those countries covered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The United States will also touch upon the issues of peace and security. On December 13, it plans to hold a forum dedicated to the above agenda with the participation of defense ministers. There have been calls for delegations from Mozambique, Niger and Somalia to take the role of chairmen. At this venue, Washington intends to promote the concept of developing relations with the African region, published back in August. The goal is clear: to convince Africans that it is the American version of democracy that allegedly leads Africa to stability and prosperity. There, of course, they will not talk about the role of the United States in the destruction of Libya’s statehood and its activities in some other countries…

The topic of health shall also be covered and shall become the focus of several separate panel sessions: global health security and financial resilience to health shocks; equality in access to health services; emerging and innovative technologies to strengthen health systems. Undoubtedly, the United States by using beautiful phrase will try to conceal the advancement of its medical bio-laboratories in Africa, many of which operate in the interests of the Pentagon, as well as the promotion of vaccines that immensely enrich American pharmaceutical companies.

The topic of environmental protection will be presented through “adaptation to climate change and a just energy transition.” The session will focus on the following: protecting the environment, including the forest and wildlife economy, and conserving Africa’s water resources, including ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; adaptation to climate change; and transition to clean energy. The United States is nominating representatives of the DRC, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, the Seychelles and Zambia as section chairs.

It is clear that behind such lofty rhetoric is the desire of the United States to promote its “green” technologies to the African continent, primarily wind energy and solar generated energy, which are not capable of creating the energy basis for the industrial development of the continent, but will immensely enrich American corporations.

The main day of the summit will be December 14, when a large-scale business forum will be held with the participation of heads of delegations.  Further, there will be a discussion of trade and investment relations between Africa and the United States. It is well understood in Washington that Africa is in the process of becoming the largest single market in the world through the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), and a number of countries have undertaken reforms to improve the business environment and attract private investment. These reforms and coordination within the ACFTA, as Washington is well aware, will increase the competitiveness of African companies and help them integrate into global supply chains. Washington is silent only about one thing: it sees Africa mainly as a consumer of its own products and a source of raw materials for its industry, primarily the military one.

In the same vein, there will be a business forum in the field of health care where Washington will impose its vaccines on Africans, promising their production on the continent, which, most likely, will just be reduced to the stage of their packaging.

The US will also try to advance its control in the digital sphere, again by using fine words and slogans such as “expanding the opportunities for the inclusive growth of the next generation.”

The issue of creating transport infrastructure will not be bypassed either. There are plans to organize a relevant business forum under the slogan: “expanding access to financing and investing in infrastructure to stimulate Africa’s growth.”

After all these tedious discussions, President Joe Biden’s speech (“key remarks”) and his dinner with the heads of delegations are planned.

The third and final day will be devoted to speeches by several African heads of state and government, with a focus on the 2063 agenda, which defines the parameters for the sustainable development of African countries for the next 50 years. A separate session will focus on food security, at which the United States will not fail to accuse Russia of exacerbating the food crisis, which it itself contributed to aggravating.

Thus, we can say that the forum conceived by the United States is positioned as a large-scale one, designed to outshine Chinese and Russian counterparts, and to demonstrate that the United States remains the “leader of the free world” and intends to lead and manage it. Washington wants to loudly declare that the world will remain unipolar and the US will be its leader. Only will African heads of state believe this against the backdrop of the clear failures of American foreign policy in other parts of the world where the American leadership leaves smoke and ruins?

Oleg Pavlov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.