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Critical for USA to rebalance African relations

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Critical for USA to rebalance African relations
The USA has invested in African countries like Angola and infrastructure across the continent. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica.

Critical for USA to rebalance African relations

It is critical that the US works to rebalance its relations with African countries.

By Jean-Pierre Alumba Lukamba from the African Diaspora for Development (ADD)

U.S. policymakers on both sides of the aisle have grown more anxious about Russia and China influence on the African continent as China/Russia-Africa relations have deepened in a variety of areas, including trade and commercial ties, military-security relations, and technology.

However, American policymakers across the political spectrum have not prioritised African countries when it comes to U.S. foreign policy plans. Rather, Washington’s limited focus on Africa has lacked coordination and now is often unsettled by an ill-defined concept of “Chinese/Russia influence.”

In August 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden launched U.S new Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, but it looks also like another U.S. African strategy business as usually because it’s not talking to the African people.

It’s a kind of up – up approach, not as it should be, bottom-up approach with more emphasis on American and African people to people solidarity to strengthen the historical ties between the two peoples.

It is critical that the United States works to rebalance its relations with African countries, especially as the continent undergoes dramatic demographic and economic changes.

Africa’s population is expected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050, accounting for more than one-quarter of the global population. In addition, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the continent was home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies.

As Africa expert Judd Devermont argues, “Every global problem is going to have an African dimension to it.” From climate change and pandemic responses to cyber governance, African countries are sure to play a significant role in the future of global affairs.

U.S. policymakers must realise that if they are unable to advance U.S.-Africa relations in the near future, especially in upcoming U.S – Africa Summit this in December, they will miss a crucial opportunity to participate in a rapidly changing region where American national interests are at stake.

Most importantly, the United States cannot continue to rely solely on a strategy of criticising Chinese and Russian’s engagement across Africa.

Critical for USA to rebalance African relations
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Key facts about DRC (Critical for USA to rebalance African relations)

This piece of opinion outlines key facts regarding the DRC that U.S. policymakers need to understand in order to get U.S. Africa-focused policy. Here are some key factors about the DRC:

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country in Africa. It borders nine countries: Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia
  • With the population around 100 million, with estimated 74% of youth, the people of the DRC represent over 200 ethnic groups, with nearly 250 languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. Kinshasa, the capital, is the second largest French-speaking city in the world
  • The DRC is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet, with an abundance of gold, cobalt, Uranium, Diamond, tantalum, tungsten, and tin – all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops, the country has also hydropower potential, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, and the world’s second-largest rainforest
  • Music is its biggest export
  • On October 30, 1974, boxer Muhammad Ali, nicknamed “The Greatest,” reclaimed the word heavyweight title by winning the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • Former NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1997, he founded a humanitarian foundation to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in the DRC
  • DRC is one of the most important countries in Africa for biodiversity conservation. More than 81 million people live here — as do a number of spectacular endemic species like the okapi, Grauer’s gorilla, bonobo, and Congo peacock along with over 400 other species of mammals, over 1,000 bird species, over 400 fish species, and over 10,000 species of plants

In the DRC, only 1.8% of existing roads are tarred and less than 10% of the population has access to electricity today. Recently there have been pushes to improve, including the announcement of USD1-billion package from the World Bank for infrastructure development.

Opportunities in DRC (Critical for USA to rebalance African relations)

In view of the above, it can be seen that the DRC can easily offer business opportunities in the following sectors:

  • Agribusiness;
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Energy, water and sanitation;
  • Waste Management;
  • Property development;
  • Banking;
  • Insurance;
  • Media;
  • Clothing;
  • Food and beverage;
  • Education;
  • Health;
  • Hospitality industry;
  • Tourism;
  • Manufacturing industry;
  • Public transport;
  • Ports and airports;
  • Petrol and gas;
  • Mining.

These business opportunities between the United States and the DRC can only be possible through the existence of a responsible leadership in the DRC. This will enable respect of human rights, democracy, good governance, social well-being, open society, peace and security, trade and investment, development and excellent business climate.

Currently the country is plagued by corruption, embezzlement of public funds, mismanagement squanders natural resources, food insecurity, bad governance, abuse of human rights, destruction of fauna and flora by the Chinese, lack of adequate public infrastructure, poverty, lack of development vision as well as security conflicts with certain neighboring countries. Added to this is the 2023 chaotic election which created a lot questions regarding the legitimacy of the current DRC regime.

However the U.S. administration and CSOs can work together with the Congolese people through the CSOs and FBOs to change the current situation for the betterment of both people and pave the way for peace, stability and development in the DRC.

Recommendations (Critical for USA to rebalance African relations)

  • US to have a significant discussions with the DRC current regime in considering peace talks with the current main Congolese armed group the Alliance Fleuve Congo “AFC” lead by Corneille NANGAA
  • US officials to distance themselves from the DRC officials involved in organizing the country 2023 chaotic elections including all who are involved in systemic corruption, hate speeches, state crimes, serious abuse of human rights and the leaders of the urban militia group called Forces du Progrès operating mainly in Kinshasa
  • US to identify and work with new emerging potential visionary leaders in the DRC for peace, stability and the development of the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Africa
  • To encourage U.S. companies and CSOs to invest and implement projects in the following sectors: economy, Health, Education, Tourism and Agribusiness
  • To promote sport and cultural exchange projects between U.S. and Congolese citizens

What facilitates the Russian and Chinese influence in the DRC is the ease in obtaining visa as well as the numerous scholarships that these countries grant to Congolese, especially to young people. If the U.S. wants to maintain and guaranty his ties with the DRC, the U.S. policies and decisions makers should take into account the above strategy used by Russian and Chinese emphasising sustainable development, human right, social well-being of the population, youth entrepreneurship and open society.

The U.S. should support the implementation of the DRC vision as a business land.

Jean-Pierre Alumba Lukamba is from the African Diaspora for Development (ADD)

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Diaspora for Development (ADD).

Twitter: @AlumbaLukamba

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African Diaspora for Development (ADD)

Critical for USA to rebalance African relations

Critical for USA to rebalance African relations
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