- Jill Biden is in Namibia this week and will later visit Kenya.
- The first lady will highlight issues around empowering women and young people and food insecurity in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya.
- Trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa totalled US$44.9 billion in 2021, a 22% increase from 2019, but direct investment fell by 5.3% to US$30.3 billion.
Harare - Jill Biden is in Namibia and will later visit Kenya as part of a push by the United States to step up engagement with Africa as a counterweight to China’s influence on the continent.
This has been necessitated by the growth potential on the continent which has empowered African countries, with many African leaders now demanding a stronger voice and greater respect internationally and they’re getting it from China whose presence in Africa is ubiquitous.
Zimbabwe like many other African nations fails to match up with the democratic and human rights requirements that are germane to the US hence the move by the US to step up engagements in the continent will always be restricted to some countries.
The US brings a lot of experience of investment across Africa and at point, this is what Zimbabwe is missing. The US is investing in African enterprises and startups, but many startups in the country are forced to partner with people in countries that are not sanctioned by the US to receive financial aid to spearhead their projects. This has slowed down the innovative potential that Zimbabwe has.
President Joe Biden told African leaders who came to Washington for a summit last year that the US is “all in” on the continent’s future. He also announced that he, his wife, the vice president and several members of his Cabinet would travel to Africa this year, and joked that the leaders would get tired of hosting everyone.
Jill Biden is the third US official to visit, following Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The first lady will highlight issues around empowering women and young people and food insecurity in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya. She will also focus on deepening US relations with the two countries that are hosting her.
Through renewed engagement with the countries of Africa, the US aims to catch up with its economic rival, China, which has outpaced the US in terms of trade in some of the 54 nations on the continent, the second most-populous continent.
Trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa totalled US$44.9 billion in 2021, a 22 percent increase from 2019. But direct investment fell by 5.3 percent to US$30.3 billion. Trade between Africa and China in 2021 surged to US$254 billion, up about 35 percent as Chinese exports increased to the continent.
Jill Biden is no stranger to Africa. The trip will be her sixth to the continent, her third time in Kenya, and her first visit to Namibia. It will also be her fourth trip abroad without the president in the two years since he took office.
President Biden is widely expected to visit Africa later this year, though the White House has not announced his travel dates. He was in Poland on Tuesday following a surprise visit to Ukraine on Monday to meet with Zelensky. The US assessment of the upcoming presidential elections will be key for Zimbabwe since that has been the measuring basin that has failed the nation on both the democratic and human rights front.
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