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The Second US-Africa Summit 

Context

The second US-Africa summit was recently held in Washington. From Africa, leaders from 49 countries and the African Union (AU) chair attended.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains Question

“In order to advance the African agenda, India, as the global south’s voice, must understand the mood and developments in Africa, particularly in its foreign partnerships.” Discuss in light of the recently concluded second US-Africa summit. (250 Words)


Summit outcomes include:

• G20 membership support:

  • The United States announced its support for the AU’s admission to the G20 as a permanent member.
    • Permanent representation for Africa at the UN Security Council (UNSC): The United States has stated that it “fully supports” reforming the UN Security Council (UNSC) to include permanent representation for Africa.
  • Despite the fact that Africa is on the UN Security Council’s agenda and that the majority of Africans are directly affected by the body’s decisions, the continent lacks a single representative member.
    • Aiding African resilience and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic: o The United States plans to lend up to US$21 billion to low and middle-income countries, many of which are in Africa, through the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • Several departments and agencies in the United States announced new initiatives and investments to promote two-way trade and investment. For example, the US Trade Representative signed an agreement with the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to assist institutions in accelerating sustainable economic growth across Africa.
  • When fully implemented, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade zone in terms of number of participating countries, with a combined continent-wide market of 1.3 billion people and 3.4 trillion GDP.
    • The First Regional Multi-Sectoral Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compacts: o The MCC was signed with the governments of Benin and Niger to support regional economic integration, trade, and cross-border collaboration, totaling $504 million.
  • The MCC has signed similar agreements for nearly US$675 million with the governments of the Gambia, Lesotho, and Malawi to support climate adaptation.
    • Digital Transformation with Africa Initiative: The United States launched this initiative to increase digital access and literacy across Africa.
  • In accordance with the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy, the US intends to invest over US$350 million and facilitate over US$450 million in financing for the continent through this initiative.
    • 21st Century Partnership for African Security (21PAS): The United States plans to provide $100 million to incentivize and support African efforts to implement and sustain security sector capacity and forms. This is a three-year pilot programme in which the United States and African partners, as well as civil society organisations, will look for ways to sync, share, and support solutions to Africa’s security challenges.
    • Visit Promise: o The president and vice president have promised to visit Africa next year. This will be a welcome change, as no US president has visited Africa since 2015.

China’s Shadows:

  • Largest trading partner: o Through consistent diplomacy and extensive economic engagement, China has emerged as the continent’s largest trading partner and fourth largest investor, surpassing the United States.
    • In 2021, while trade between the United States and Africa was $44.9 billion, trade between China and Africa was $254 billion.
  • Investment: o Last year, the United States invested $30.31 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to China’s total investment in Africa of $43.4 billion in 2020.
  • Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC): o The United States and other countries can learn from the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which was established in October 2000.
    • The FOCAC is made up of African and Chinese ministers and leaders who meet once every three years, alternately in Beijing and an African capital.
    • The Chinese president attends deliberations in person or virtually.
    • China has a full-fledged inter-ministerial mechanism in place to ensure that FOCAC decisions are implemented on time.
    • The most recent meeting, held in Dakar in 2021, expressed support for China’s agenda, which included the One-China Principle, the Global Development Initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the vision of “a community with a shared future.”
    • It also praised the 2018 FOCAC summit in Beijing for deciding to establish “a China-Africa community” focused on “win-win cooperation.”
  • Consistent focus on Africa: o For many years, the Chinese foreign minister has begun his annual series of foreign visits by visiting Africa.
    • Whatever flaws China’s economic diplomacy in Africa may have — and there are many — its consistent attention to Africa contains a valuable lesson.
    • However, US-Africa summits are relatively rare. The most recent summit was held in 2014. Furthermore, no President of the United States has visited Africa since 2015.
    • As a result, the United States’ efforts to raise its profile in Africa remain episodic and flawed.

Implications for India

  • India’s equity in Africa is older and richer than that of China and the United States, but this should not be a source of complacency.
  • Over the last two decades, India has worked hard to strengthen its political and economic partnership with Africa at the continental, regional, and bilateral levels.
  • During the 2015-19 period, the government created a special momentum in arranging high-level exchanges and forging cooperation initiatives.
  • Since then, COVID-19, the economic downturn, the war in Ukraine, and the border conflict with China may have contributed to a slowdown. This should be stopped immediately.
  • The fourth India-Africa Forum Summit should take place in early 2024, lest the third summit in 2015 be forgotten.

Conclusion:

  • India intends to be remembered as the voice of the Global South, at the heart of which is Africa, through its G20 presidency.
  • The majority of this continent’s 54 countries are developing or least developed.
  • To truly represent the South, it is critical to understand Africa’s mood and changes, particularly in its external partnerships. This will determine India’s ability to contribute to the advancement of the African agenda.
  • The G20 presidency is an opportunity for India to ensure that the African Union becomes a permanent member of this grouping and to firmly reflect Africa’s Agenda 2063 for development.
  • In Africa, India and the United States should collaborate more closely.
  • The time has come for India and the United States to demonstrate their long-term commitment to Africa and Africans.

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