The US will seek to increase its influence in Africa, a region where the Chinese economic presence is strong: all to compete with Beijing?

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The Biden administration announced that it hopes to increase the US presence in Africa, where the Chinese economic presence is increasingly felt.

“The United States reaffirms its commitment to the continent […]. We are forging new paths to connect world-class innovations with economic priorities in African communities, with their economic priorities, “US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Tuesday at the US-Africa Business Summit. in Washington, informs South China Morning Post.

For her part, the senior director for Africa in the US National Security Council, Dana Banks, assured that the North American country wants to focus on investments in sectors such as clean energy, health, agriculture and infrastructure of transport.

The statements of the officials correspond to the initiative ‘Build Back Better World’ (‘Rebuild a better world’, acronym as B3W), proposed by Joe Biden as a joint alternative of the G7 countries to the New Chinese Silk Road, and the Prosper Africa infrastructure project, announced by the president’s predecessor, Donald Trump.

However, they would have to reverse a trend of the last two decades. In 2001, the US controlled 15.5% of trade with African countries and China 4%. By 2020, the ratio was 5.6% against 25.6%, with an unassailable leadership from Beijing.

Difficult competition

“Despite Africa’s tremendous economic potential, the United States has lost substantial ground to traditional and emerging partners, especially China,” He said this Wednesday to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate the executive director of Thunderbird School of Global Management, Landry Signé. He added that Chinese direct investments in the continent grew at an annual rate of 40% between 2010 and 2020.

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For his part, the former Minister of Public Works of Liberia, W. Gyude Moore, told the aforementioned newspaper that both US initiatives “in the best of cases, […] they will be complementary “to Chinese investments.” I can’t imagine how they would replace them, “said Moore, who is currently the senior policy researcher at the US non-governmental Center for Global Development.

Less manageable but more effective?

On the contrary, George Washington University professor David Shinn believes that US projects have certain advantages over Chinese penetration, which, according to him, relies heavily on Beijing as a political actor.

“It is more difficult to manage private sector programs than one run by a single government. At the same time, the private sector effort will, in my opinion, be more sustainable and respond more effectively to the needs of African countries,” he said the expert.

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