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Have All the Promises of the 2014 US-Africa Summit Been Kept?

© AFP 2023 / JEWEL SAMADUS President Barack Obama waves as he finishes a press conference at the end of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, on August 6, 2014.
US President Barack Obama waves as he finishes a press conference at the end of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, on August 6, 2014. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2022
Tuesday was the first day of the 2022 US-Africa Summit, which involves 49 delegations from African states as well as one from the African Union. Sputnik recollects the results of the first event of the kind, which was held eight years ago.
The first United States-Africa Leaders Summit was held in Washington in August 2014 under the slogan of "Investing in the Next Generation." The event followed the 2013 three-nation African trip of Barack Obama – the first American president with African roots – and, just like this year's summit, was viewed as part of US efforts to counter growing Chinese influence in the region. In an interview, Obama said that roads built in Africa should not "just lead from the mine, to the port, to Shanghai."
According to the US Department of State, the summit highlighted "America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people". The meeting started with a number of signature events by the names of "Civil Society Forum," "Investing in Women," "Peace and Prosperity," "Investing in Health: Investing in Africa's Future," "Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate," and "Combating Wildlife Trafficking."
After that, a trade-and-investment-focused US-Africa Business Forum took place, followed by meetings of heads of state.
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In fact, in several aspects, results of American policies have not matched the goals declared at the summit.
Implementation of the first Business Forum initiatives has been "notably slow-going in some respects," as noted by the Brookings think tank. More than $33 billion in new deals were announced as results of the Business Forum – but, in reality, the outcomes of the deals are difficult to trace, as their transparency depends on individual companies.
For instance, the original mandate of the "Power Africa" project involved plans to connect 590 million Africans to electricity, providing them with 30,000 megawatts. In fact, only 6,501 megawatts were provided to Africans, connecting 165.4 million people.
At the summit, Obama proposed a total of $20 billion in investment in electricity, $7 billion in government financing designated to encourage American exports and investments in Africa, as well as $110 million every year for the development of peacekeeping forces on the continent.
The US President also announced the creation of a $5 billion counterterrorism partnerships fund, designated to "increase military capacity in [African] countries threatened by terrorism". Military training and providing equipment were also listed as part of US efforts to promote security in Africa.
Despite declared commitment to peace and adoption of "a comprehensive approach" to countering the terrorist threat, the effectiveness of US security initiatives along with Washington's allies also seems doubtful. For instance, the Sahel region – which is one of the primary areas of operation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) – is still facing a deep crisis, threatened by jihadist groups. In the mid-2010s, American security efforts were joined by the French military within the framework of Operation Barkhane, as well as UN peacekeeping forces.
The actions of the European military missions in Sahel have also been deemed ineffective; in 2022, the French forces pulled out from Mali against the backdrop of protests and a conflict with the country's government. Later, several Western countries, including the UK and Germany, declared plans to withdraw their troops from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Despite the US peace efforts, the South Sudan civil war also continued – until 2020.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during U.S. Africa leaders Summit at Department of State in Washington, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.12.2022
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At the time of the first summit, Washington's treatment of Africa's healthcare problems also faced criticism. As noted by several observers, funding of President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program important for multiple African countries, was also cut during the Obama presidency. However, the funding started growing again after the 2014 summit where the HIV/AIDS issue was discussed among other things.
Commenting on the issue, Sergio Rossi, professor of macroeconomics and monetary economics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, tells Sputnik that in terms of international relations, there is often "a huge gap between political statements and political actions," particularly in times of crisis.

"Politicians usually focus on their own private goals, to remain in office as long as possible, and to get a highly-paid position once they go back to the labor market. Further, voters usually forget the past mistakes of politicians as well as their own promises that were just a ‘lip service,’ also because the political alternatives do not provide a convincing program in terms of economic policy strategy and outcomes," he says.

The declared topics for the 2022 US-Africa Summit also include fostering new economic engagement; advancement of peace, security, and good governance, reinforcing commitment to democracy, human rights, and civil society; working collaboratively to strengthen regional and global health security; promoting food security; responding to the climate crisis; amplifying diaspora ties as well as promoting education and youth leadership. Time will show if the summit will bring achievements beneficial for Africa.
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