(Washington) The United States on Tuesday denounced the “destabilizing” role of China and Russia in Africa, rolling out the red carpet in Washington for dozens of African leaders and pledging billions of dollars in aid to shown to regain influence on the continent.
Nearly fifty African leaders, some of whom have been widely criticized for their respect for human rights, have been invited to this summit, the second of its kind after the one organized in 2014 under the presidency of Barack Obama, and which the American president Joe Biden intends to use it to reposition his country on the continent.
Speaking at a security forum attended by several African leaders, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin immediately noted that “China is expanding its footprint on the continent daily […] and this could have a destabilizing effect if it is not already the case”.
As for Russia, it “continues to send cheap weapons and mercenaries” across the continent, he said.
“The combination of these activities of these two countries, I think it deserves attention. And it is clear that their influence could be destabilizing,” the Pentagon chief continued.
In this charm offensive by the United States to seduce sometimes reluctant African partners, the United States has put its hand in the wallet, promising to devote “55 billion dollars to Africa over three years”, according to the White House. .
The Biden administration must distill the details throughout this three-day summit in the capital. On Tuesday, she announced the granting of up to $4 billion by 2025 for the hiring and training of healthcare workers in Africa, drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first day of the summit also touched on the subject of space exploration with the signing by Nigeria and Rwanda of the Artemis agreements under the impetus of the United States. They are the first African countries to do so.
President Biden is due to speak Wednesday and Thursday before the summit.
In particular, he will plead in favor of an increased role for Africa on the international scene, with a seat on the UN Security Council, and for the African Union to be formally represented in the G20.
During a forum organized on the sidelines of the summit with the African diaspora in the United States, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken assured Tuesday morning that the new strategy of the United States was summed up in a single word: “partnership”.
All, “recognizing that we cannot resolve our shared priorities alone,” he said during this forum at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the capital of the United States.
This new strategy was unveiled last summer announcing an overhaul of US policy in sub-Saharan Africa, to counter the Chinese and Russian presence there.
China is the world’s largest creditor to poor and developing countries and invests heavily in the resource-rich African continent.
In addition to investments, climate change, food insecurity – aggravated by the war in Ukraine – or even trade relations and good governance are at the center of the meeting.
The summit and, on the sidelines, its cohort of bilaterals, is also an opportunity to address a series of conflicts, from Ethiopia to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The American Secretary of State was to meet in the afternoon with Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi, struggling with the M23 rebellion which has seized large swaths of territory in the east of the country in recent months.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23, which Kigali denies. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is also in Washington.
Ethiopia is also on the agenda in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, just over a month after the signing of a peace agreement on November 2 between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigrayan rebels, intended to end two years of devastating conflict.
In the morning, US officials met with Somali President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud, welcoming his action in the fight against radical Islamists Shebab.
The United States is pleased “to work alongside the courageous Somali forces and will continue to support the efforts of your government”, affirmed Lloyd Austin, while the Somali president assured that “the Shebab cannot be defeated only militarily. It is also important to mobilize society”.