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US-Africa Summit 'a Sign of Desperation,' Experts Say

© Brendan SmialowskiUS President Joe Biden and South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa walk to a working session at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, Saturday June 12, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)
US President Joe Biden and South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa walk to a working session at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, Saturday June 12, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.12.2022
The December 13–15 US-Africa Summit will involve 49 delegations from African states and one from the African Union (AU). Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, and Sudan were excluded due to the suspension of their AU membership. Eritrea, which has no diplomatic relations with the US, was also excluded.
The upcoming US-Africa summit is part of Washington's attempts to undermine the growing Chinese influence in Africa, says Dr. Gerald Horne, author, researcher, and professor of history at the University of Houston, Texas, in an interview with Sputnik.

"Well, it's a sign of desperation. It's a sign of the fact that the United States is becoming ever more hysterical about the closer relations between China and Africa in particular. Keep in mind that what has boosted the United States and its North Atlantic allies into the pole position on planet Earth has been precisely the exploitation of African resources, the exploitation of African people, speaking of the unlamented African slave trade," he underlines.

No special programs that could be proposed at the summit are able to significantly undermine China's influence in Africa, notes Nikolai Shcherbakov, professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. According to him, embracing universalism in its policy towards Africa is the only option for the US – which has sent invitations to the summit even to those under US sanctions:

"Today your neighbor was not invited, tomorrow you may not be invited. In Africa, they understand that this can happen to anyone, so the United States is forced to demonstrate universalism. The experience gained by China in recent years when holding pan-African summits shows that it does not just make no distinctions for political reasons, but emphatically cooperates with everyone, even with small states where China has no special interests. China does not make any distinctions, it is engaged in dialogue with all African countries and quite successfully," Shcherbakov says.

Meanwhile, China is Africa's largest trading partner. The volume of China-Africa trade reached $254 billion in 2021, which is four times the volume of trade between the United States and African countries. China remains the largest source of direct investment, about double the level of US investment.
Fang Wei, deputy director of the Center for Western Asia and Africa at Anhui University, notes that compared to the US-Africa Summit, which is being held eight years after the previous one, Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summits have been held every three years for the past 22 years, laying a solid foundation for China's interaction with African countries.

"Africa is attracted by the Chinese experience in modernizing the economy and society. It corresponds to the value needs and basic interests of a large number of countries on the African continent, which have long suffered from colonial domination and highly value national sovereignty after gaining independence," Fang Wei adds.

According to Dr. Horne, with the "rise of China," African nations now have other options rather than to cooperate with Western countries, with Mali's worsening relations with France and the withdrawal of the latter's troops from the West African country serving as a glaring example.
The alignment of forces in the West African Sahel region has changed since anti-French governments came to power in Burkina Faso and Mali as a result of military coups. French-led Operation Barkhane came to an end, followed by decisions by other Western countries to pull out from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Recently, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced plans to create its own peacekeeping mission in the region.
Dr. Horne believes that under these circumstances, the United States is cooperating with its European partners in pursuit of egoistic interests in Africa – but the prospects of this cooperation are doubtful.

"Reference here the recent trip to Washington of French President Macron. And certainly on the agenda in his talks with the US president, Mr. Biden, were attempts to tighten relations between Washington and Paris so that Africa can be more usefully exploited. I would like to [...] think that those bad old days [of colonialism] are over," the professor concludes.

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