Presidency Biden: what position for Africa?

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The election of Joe Biden as President of the United States had provoked overwhelmingly positive reactions in Africa. But what concrete changes can we expect in American politics? So far, though the subject remains general, broad lines are emerging.

The key idea for Joe Biden is to restore diplomatic ties with institutions such as the African Union and the governments of the continent. This is why he promised to organize a summit of African heads of state, as Barack Obama had done in 2014. Joe Biden clearly wants to make direct connections with his colleagues, unlike his predecessor, who had not held office for four years. any trip to Africa. “Donald Trump became known for his indifference and had made particularly insulting remarks to a number of African countries,” emphasizes historian Pap Ndiaye, professor at Sciences Po Paris and specialist in the United States. According to him, Joe Biden’s program is first and foremost “in the continuity of the relationships built by Barack Obama”. It is first and foremost a question of “restoring normal relations by reaffirming commitments at the level of democracy, economic development or even security issues.”

Also read: Joe Biden wants to stand out from Donald Trump in his relationship with Africa

The priority is therefore to regain lost confidence. And while the subject on the American side generally remains for the time being in terms of foreign policy, the new administration very quickly insisted on talking about a “respectful” commitment to Africa. The term alone stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s position. “What’s clear is that Washington’s approach will change a lot, and that’s a change of tone that we are witnessing at the moment,” said Jeffrey Hawkins, a researcher at Iris (Institute of Relations. International and Strategic) and former US Ambassador to Bangui. He notes that the first important point in the new president’s program concerns the African diaspora.

Joe Biden has actually focused his African vision in a campaign document whose key point is the large African community installed in the United States. The new president acknowledges his importance “This is the first time the president has addressed this Community“Pap Ndiaye notes, for whom” it is very important that a US presidential program specifically speaks to those who come from the African continent. “” It is a way to show them that they are respected and respected, “Pap Ndiaye said. .

In the same campaign document, Joe Biden is particularly concerned about African youth: he wants to revive the Yali program (“Young African leaders“) The one that Barack Obama had created, and which has been in relative sleep for the last four years. Yali gives hundreds of young Africans the opportunity to get a scholarship and stay at American universities.

One of the other important points that the new president has developed concerns visa restrictions for US citizens Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia (three countries in the former White House chief). Joe Biden intends to cancel these measures altogether.

46th President of the United States to lead administration that values ​​diversity

If the number of power Kamala Harrisis of Jamaican origin, Africa will not be left out of this team. The Biden administration will have two mainland children, both of Nigerian origin, in its ranks. The first of them is Wally Adeyemo (39 years old). A native of Nigeria who grew up in Southern California will be the future Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and was formerly Barack Obama’s most important economic adviser. It is the first time that an African-American has been appointed to such a high position within this royal ministry. Another deal to remember: Osaremen Okolo. She is 26, born to Nigerian parents and will be an adviser to the Covid-19 response team.

But in reality, it is above all two other names that deserve attention: Linas Thomas Greenfieldprimarily. At the age of 69, she became an ambassador to the UN. This former Secretary of State for Africa was also stationed in several African capitals and especially in Monrovia, where she was ambassador between 2008 and 2012. “According to Jeffrey Hawkins, she should give new impetus to humanitarian operations and especially peacekeeping,” he recalled. of his distrust of the UN has repeatedly tried to cut these budgets. ”

Samantha Power is the other important figure for Africa in the Biden administration. This former ambassador to the UN will lead the agency responsible for development aid (Usaid), whose role will be strengthened, “here the contrast is again striking with the Trump presidency, notes Jeffrey Hawkins, Trump has done everything to reduce US aid, taxpayers’ money should him first serve the Americans ”.

In the Biden team, of course, there is the future foreign minister Anthony BlinkenHe is also a connoisseur of Africa, an experienced diplomat who has repeatedly criticized the outgoing president’s diplomacy in recent years. Finally, career diplomat Dana L. Banks, for her part, has been appointed Senior Director of Africa within the National Security Council (NSC).

Also to listen: Chris Fomunyoh: “With Biden, there will be a rebuilding of American politics in Africa”

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