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What will a Joe Biden win mean for Africa?

LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – Perhaps the most memorable demonstration of Joe Biden’s position and beliefs on Africa is the 1986 Senate engagements on the issue of Apartheid South Africa. The then 43-year-old senator spoke passionately and questioned the US policy highlighting the need to end apartheid which was a repressive to Black South Africans.

With media houses and analysts tightly positioned on the assertion that the Election is too close to call, the numbers are increasingly pointing towards a Biden Victory. As of Thursday morning Associated Press had Biden at 264 Electoral votes placing him only 6 electoral votes away from the required 270 while Trump was at 214. 

The democratic candidate addressed the media on Wednesday confidently but made it clear that he was not declaring victory but rather announcing that he believes that when all votes have been counted he will be the man in the Oval Office.

On the other hand the Trump campaign team is exploring legal avenues to stop the vote counting citing a lack of transparency in the mail in vote counting whose results seem to further increase Joe Biden’s chances of winning the Presidency with states like Pennsylvania and Georgia slowly tilting in favour of the Democrats.

The last four years have not offered any clear US-Africa Policy, the Trump Administration tightened Immigration laws. Under the current administration the US-Africa trade relations have been weakening with countries like Lesotho set to lose almost 46 000 jobs if the Africa Growth Opportunity Act is not renewed. So, Lesotho hopes that Joe Biden will shift from Donald Trump’s disinterest in renewing it.

Another Southern African country Zimbabwe has been battling the consequences of US Imposed sanctions as stipulated by the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, the Southern African country has attempted to normalise relations with the US but it has cited the US untoward reception of its engagement efforts. Although ZIDERA has been in place before the Trump administration the Zimbabwean authorities had hoped for some progress under Trump, they carry the same hope into a possible Biden administration.

In the health sector the Trump Administration cut NGO funding resulting in disrupted NGO health activities on the African continent, this has resulted in less vaccines and contraceptives further weakening already struggling African communities. Africans are anticipating the Joe Biden government to correct this.

Over all US trade in Africa is further weakening as China and Russia are making inroads. This is expected to change under the Biden Administration. 

The burning question is ‘what will a Biden victory mean for US- Africa relations?’ As Joe Biden seems to signal a departure from the Trump approach to African relations here is a look at what are going to be the pillars of his policy as reported on his website.

U.S. – Africa Policy

Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa. 

He will aim to renew the United States’ mutually respectful engagement toward Africa with a bold strategy that reaffirms our commitment to supporting democratic institutions on the continent; advancing lasting peace and security; promoting economic growth, trade, and investment; and supporting sustainable development. Biden will advance these objectives by:

• Asserting America’s commitment to shared prosperity, peace and security, democracy, and governance as foundational principles of U.S.-Africa engagement. 

• Restoring and reinvigorating diplomatic relations with African governments and regional institutions, including the African Union.

• Ensuring the U.S. Government and U.S. Foreign Service reflect the rich composition of the American citizenry, including African diaspora professionals.

• Continuing the Young African Leaders Initiative and deepening America’s commitment to engage with Africa’s dynamic young leaders. 

Various African analysts have argued that the US foreign policy never changes significantly but there is a lot of hope emanating from Biden’s experience and exposure to African affairs acquired over approximately four decades.  

Although Biden does not give any specifics to address the current areas of African concern, it remains a great possibility that Africa may see a strategic deepening development in its relations with the US through the Biden administration.

Report written by Kundai Darlington Vambe

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