The US government says its new policy towards Africa is already bearing fruit even though Washington admits its main competitor, China, has tightened grip on the continent.
In the first public review of the policy that was launched in December 2018, a US diplomat told a gathering this week that Washington will continue to counter China’s influence in Africa in order to slay the dragon.
Tibor Nagy, the US Assistant Secretary for Bureau of African Affairs said on Tuesday that Africa was now getting “the attention it deserves from senior US officials” since the policy was launched, but singled out China’s presence as the main target of US diplomacy going forward.
“With respect to China, we are challenging their narrative and strengthening our own public diplomacy outreach,” he said, speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington.
“China continues to assert itself on the continent. We must encourage African leaders to choose sustainable foreign investments that employ Africans in good jobs and ensure that skills are transferred to African workers.”
When the US-Africa policy was launched in 2018, officials said the policy will continue with previous focus on good governance and fighting corruption. But they said they were departing from aid to trade.
The policy, they argued, was to target youth empowerment by creating a level playing field for US business investment in Africa as well as sustaining momentum on counter-terrorism as well as counter China’s narrative in Africa.
Then US National Security Advisor John Bolton argued Africa should choose the US over China because of Beijing’s “predatory actions.”
“Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption, and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as US developmental programmes do.
“Lasting stability, prosperity, independence, and security on the African continent are in the national security interest of the United States,” Mr Bolton argued then, referring to China’s military installations in Djibouti as well as their indifference to local politics.
Mr Bolton has since left the Trump administration and Beijing has countered the accusation by saying it doesn’t interfere with Africa’s internal issues like Washington does.