US Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins a week-long visit on Sunday (January 21-26) to some African countries, with the aim of taking advantage of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in December. 2022 and expand fast-growing economic, development and security partnerships around the world. the continent.
Blinken’s first stop is Cape Verde off the western coast of Africa. The archipelago nation is a powerful example of fruitful U.S. engagement: Two previous Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development pacts helped transform the capital into a port hub, and Cape Verde is now vying for a regional MCC pact. .
Beyond highlighting these success stories, Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee says Blinken also intends to discuss strengthening cooperation on Atlantic maritime security and environmental protection.
From the Atlantic coast, Blinken travels inland, to the Ivory Coast, to watch from the front seat the hard-fought African Cup of Nations soccer tournament he hosts. However, behind the celebrations is the Islamist militant scourge of West Africa, which is ravaging the vulnerable Sahel region and threatening coastal areas.
Phee has highlighted economic and governance initiatives designed to bolster unstable states against invading extremists. “Helping countries move forward on all fronts to strengthen their societies and prevent the spread of terrorists… that will be part of the debate,” Ms Phee said.
Blinken will then travel to Nigeria. Africa’s largest economy and population present a clear argument for taking preventive measures. ISIS and Boko Haram insurgents, along with criminal groups, have killed thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million in recent years, despite Abuja’s military campaigns. Analysts say boosting youth employment and anti-corruption reforms are badly needed to mitigate the unrest.
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Blinken completes his trip in Angola. As a leader in crisis mediation in eastern DRC, Luanda’s commitment highlights regional responsibility. Blinken will seek the continued involvement of Angolan President João Lourenço to ease long-standing tensions, while promoting US financing for infrastructure that can stimulate Central Africa’s economy.
As China competes aggressively in Africa, U.S. officials are eager to resist the idea that this is a “U.S.-China football match” for influence, as Undersecretary Phee put it. However, highlighting US initiatives that meet African priorities – while warning against complex cooperation with non-democratic states – sends an unmistakable message to both leaders and the general public.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House correspondent and media commentator with experience in American foreign policy and international security. You can follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe