OPINION: What the Biden – Harrris Presidency means for USA and Africa

Dr Gideon Moseti Nyakundi.

In the recently concluded United States elections, American citizens exercised their democratic values. It is clearly evident that democracy must be nurtured. The country is run by the supreme power vested in the people and exercised by them directly.

The Biden win will be an opportunity for the Unites States to heighten its strategy on the African region’s security challenges. Since the commencement of Trump administration, many African countries have experienced and continue to encounter many security challenges. These challenges range from violent extremism, terrorism, and political instability across the continent.

US policies towards Africa in the last four years were devoid of major distribution on aid, good governance reforms, investments and security policies to counter violent extremism.

The Trump administration scaled down major funding. For example, there were little funds directed towards funding the fight towards Malaria, HIV-AIDS, and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that were beneficial in the African continent.

Biden is likely to bring in Ambassador Susan Rice (former Ambassador to the Unites Nations) to the same docket. Ambassador Rice is a great policy maker and shaper. Rice was keen to empower developing world during the Obama administration. So, with possible the appointment of Rice or somebody with favorable policies towards African Nations, there awaits a huge recovery and cleanup of the mess caused by the outgoing administration.

Africa needs investment and technology transfer to build the challenged infrastructure, modernize its agriculture and create jobs for the swelling youth population. I expect the Biden administration to engage Africa as a major trade and investment partner and a pivotal actor in global politics.

African leaders under the umbrella of the African Union and other continental institutions should team up and work closely with the Biden administration in fostering elaborate policies that are mutually beneficial to Africa and USA.

The setbacks

One major setback from the Trump administration was defacing the World Health Organization (WHO) at the epitome of a pandemic, COVID-19.

A return to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Paris Agreement on climate change will earmark a new beginning for the world.

The USA used to be at the fore front in the fight for human rights, an oversight that was abandoned during the Trump administration. A renewed approach in cooperation between African countries and the US in matters and principals of human rights and equality will be highly welcome.

With the Covid-19 pandemic unfolding, the USA needs to join COVAX, in the global effort to ensure that vaccines are available to poor countries. I am happy that Pfizer vaccine is now available, and priority is given to health care workers and the highly vulnerable.

As the USA considers these groups to receive the vaccine, the same should be applied to all health care workers across the world. 

Dr Oladipo input

I applaud Dr. Oladipo of Nigeria and urge other African scholars to work harder in technology to find solutions to world problems, especially in Biotechnology.

The pandemic has triggered a recession in the African continent with a massive debt crisis. The US should take a more elaborate role across the world and avoid the Trump strategy of America First.

Trump’s anti-immigrant excessive executive orders that targeted individual African countries should be evaluated and or be summarily rescinded. The Trump administration was seen as demeaning women leaders and that will have to change for a better world.

For the last four years, the US-Africa policy has vacillated around its own interests in the US national and global interests, such as the war on terror, responding to and challenging China and Russian influence to USA business, technology, cyber security, export/import tariffs and foreign policies that favor the world’s super power.

In general, the Africa continent has experienced a resounding decrease in US official development assistance and investment since the Obama Administration. President Trump goes in the books of history as the modern USA president who never visited any county in Africa during his tenure in office.

Whereas the Biden presidency was greatly influenced by the African-Americans, less solid policy proposals have been earmarked to assist the people of color in bringing equality and reducing disparities in the USA.

The Biden Administration owes the people of color for the support they received to attain the presidency. Previously, people of color did not come out to vote as they did not foresee any improvement in disparities between them and the Caucasians irrespective of who took the high office.

This time, the election was different. In this election, having trumped upon, there were record numbers of the black Americans who came out to vote for Bided – Harris presidency.

What does the American government owe African countries? Not any, at all. African leaders owe their people a much higher level of sincerity and unity. African leaders have become disintegrated and without a structured engagement by the collective African leadership to the USA government.

I can boldly point out that the African assistance from the west depends on who Biden appoints as Secretary of State and Secretary to Africa, respectively and how the first female vice president Kamala Harris plays out in handling global affairs, engagement, and responses to issues pertaining to people of color, human rights and migration.

Equally African assistance will depend on how Joe Biden and Harris decide on their priorities and investments. Currently, there are no concrete policy guidelines in the Biden-Harris structure that directly point to African empowerment initiatives.

However, with democratic leadership, the US can begin again to lead efforts to find solutions to the most critical problems facing the country and the world such as the Corona virus pandemic, the environment (global warming), and  racial injustices globally.

The USA leadership as a model will regain its stand in the world stage. It should not be forgiven that the USA has its own problems to solve.

African leaders need to spear head their agenda and team up to remind and request the Unites States for assistance. Engaging the Secretary of State and other departmental heads of the US government who are policy influencers will create easier avenues for the much-needed assistance and help towards Africa for prosperity.

Sitting and waiting for the USA to bring the much-needed aid to Africa without propping and asking for assistance will yield nothing. Ask and it shall be given, so says the good book!

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