American cash depends on greater African accountabilityThe good governance-based US aid agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) announced new investments of nearly $1.2 billion across Africa. Biden said another $2.5 billion will be approved over the next three years for projects ranging from agriculture, transportation and access to renewable energy. Biden said He said the MCC investments are part of the work the US government is doing worldwide through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
United States President Joe Biden has reassured his African counterparts during the US-Africa Business Forum, there are renewed efforts to engage with the continent using a combination of Federal assistance, together with American know-how and private capital, but much depends on the willingness of recipient countries to strive for good governance.
“Look, this Forum is about building connections. It’s about closing deals. And above all, it’s about the future, our shared future. We’ve known for a long time that Africa’s success and prosperity is essential to ensuring a better future for all of us, not just for Africa,” he told the gathering which is part of the three-day US-African Summit ending today.
Biden touted his African credentials, having been once a chair of the Senate foreign Affairs committee and later working alongside Barack Obama to organize the inaugural US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014.
Biden said for several years now the US government has worked together with the African Union “……to strengthen democracy and the core values that unite our people — all our people, especially young people — freedom, opportunity, transparency, good governance. Now, you might be thinking this is a forum dedicated to deepening business ties and advancing two-way trade investments between Africa and the United States. ‘Why is Biden talking so much about all these other areas?’
“Well, it’s because Africa’s economic transition depends on good government, healthy populations, and reliable and affordable energy. These things business seeks out when they’re looking to invest. They attract new opportunities, and they launch new partnerships,” he said.
During the past year, the good governance-based US aid agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) announced new investments of nearly $1.2 billion across Africa. Biden said another $2.5 billion will be approved over the next three years for projects ranging from agriculture, transportation and access to renewable energy.
He said the MCC investments are part of the work the US government is doing worldwide through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
“I proposed this initiative together with the rest of the G7 to help fill the need for quality, high-standard infrastructure in Africa and in low-income and middle-income countries around the world. And at the G7 meeting earlier this year, we announced our intention to collectively mobilize $600 billion in the next five years,” he said.
Biden said the US is committed to supporting every aspect Africa’s inclusive growth and creating the best possible environment for sustained commercial engagement between Africa companies and American companies.
He said, “I’m announcing that the US International Development Finance Corporation is investing nearly $370 million in new projects: $100 million to increase the reliable clean energy for millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa; $20 million to provide financing for fertilizer to help smallholder farmers, particularly women farmers, increase the yields of their crops; $10 million to support small- and medium-sized — small- and medium-sized enterprises that help bring clean drinking water to communities all across the continent.”
He said American future engagement with Africa is based on decades of vital investments made under previous US presidents and an awareness of the continent’s emergence as a economic giant.
“The United States is signing an historic memorandum of understanding with the new African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat. This MOU will unlock new opportunities for trade and investment between our countries and bring Africa and the United States even closer than ever,” he said.
He said this is an enormous opportunity for Africa’s future, and the United States wants to help make those opportunities real.
“And with the new MOU, we’re doing things correctly: enshrining protections for workers both across Africa and in the United States; looking out for small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs and enterprises to make sure they have a fair shot to compete; lifting up opportunity for women-owned businesses, Diaspora-owned businesses, and businesses owned by members of historically underserved communities; and supporting and investing in the continent’s vibrant and growing urban economies,” Biden said.
He said one of the most essential resources of any entrepreneur or small-business owner who wants to participate in the global economy is reliable and affordable access to the internet.
“So, today, I’m announcing a new initiative: the Digital Transformation with Africa. Working with Congress to invest $350 million to facilitate more than almost half a billion dollars in financing to make sure more people across Africa can participate in the digital economy. That includes partnerships like a new collaboration between Microsoft and Viasat to bring in Internet access to 5 million Africans, part of Microsoft’s commitment to bring access to 100 million people across Africa by the end of the year 2025,” Biden said.
He spoke on the need for programs to train African entrepreneurs with a focus on women entrepreneurs to code and build skills that they need to start their own businesses, to secure good-paying jobs with technology firms. “This will include partnerships between African and American companies to provide cyber-security services to make sure Africa’s digital environment is reliable and secure,” he said.
President Biden also spoke of the US government support in helping African countries combat the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting an emphasis towards developing an infrastructure for greater self-reliance in producing vaccines.
Touching on the impact of climate change, he said it is in the interests of the US to see Africa initiate progammes and roll out projects that mitigate against the adverse effects. At the recent climate talks hosted by Egypt, the US committed $150 million as part of the total $3 billion to the global efforts during the next two years.
Biden said, “Altogether, the Forum has spurred more than $15 billion in new deals, which will turn, lift up, and improve lives of people all across the continent. And that’s the biggest deal of all. These are long-term investments that are going to deliver real benefits to people; create new, good-paying jobs, including here in the United States; and expand opportunities for all our countries for the years to come.”
He said, “All of you — all of you, the deals you’ve signed, the investments we’ve made together, are concrete proof of the enduring commitment we’re making to one another, government to government, business to business, people to people.”