To help Africa build its infrastructure needs, the United States has pledged to do things differently, said Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on Friday, adding that too often big international deals were opaque and coercive.
Over the last decade, Africa, that is in need of billions of dollars annually for roads, railways, dams and power, has received funding from China, which generally does not tie the money to political or rights-related conditions.
The Biden administration has been criticised by some as inattentive to Africa with persistent complaints that the United States views Africa primarily in a negative light compared to China which talks of partnership.
China has deepened its political and economic roots on the continent.
“The U.S. needs to drop the old posture of viewing Africa as just a problem to be solved,” said Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa for International Crisis Group.
Blinken in a speech laying out the Biden administration’s policy approach to Africa, said it was time to stop treating the continent as a subject of geopolitics and see it as a major player on its own. He appealed to African leaders to guard against rising extremism, authoritarianism and corruption.
“Too often, international infrastructure deals are opaque, coercive. They burden countries with unmanageable debt. They’re environmentally destructive. They don’t always benefit the people who actually live there. We will do things differently,” Blinken said during a visit to Nigeria as part of his tour of Africa.
The United States will continue to help Africa fight conflict and extremism, but not everything could be solved with more or better-equipped armed forces, as this sometimes led to violation of rights, contributing to grievances and perpetuating cycles of violence, Blinken said.