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US Africa Visits Demonstrate Renewed Commitments: Analysts

FILE - U.S Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (L) and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (R). The two U.S. Diplomats are top U.S. government officials to visit Africa in Jan. 2023.

Analysts say visits by two of America's top diplomats to Africa this month is an attempt to rebuild relations with the continent while other global powers such as Russia, China and Turkey also scramble for power and influence there.

Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen began a ten-day trip to the continent - Senegal, Zambia and South Africa. This week, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has also been in Africa on a three-day visit to Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya.

Yellen is focused on promoting trade and investments, while Thomas-Greenfield is on a mission to “strengthen and affirm partnerships” with current and former UN Security Council members as well as “check in” on the US' humanitarian investments.

Marisa Lourenço, a Johannesburg-based political and economic risk analyst told VOA that these high-level trips prove that the U.S. administration is keen to among others undo the wrongs done by the previous administration towards Africans.

“I think it's (U.S) trying to improve relations because African countries have a lot to offer the U.S. and the West,” she said adding that “it's also trying to counter the dominance that other foreign powers are trying to get.”

Lourenco added “So China's influence on Africa has definitely receded somewhat in recent years, but it's still an important part of the continent. Then, of course, there's Russia, and Turkey is also growing its influence, and I think the US wants to make sure that it's not left behind in any of that.”

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield first visited Ghana Wednesday where she rallied support that sought to strengthen partnerships with the United Nations Security Council non-Permanent members which includes Mozambique, her next point of call on Thursday.

The Southern African nation begins its historic first term as a non-Permanent member. Greenfield is expected to set forth US priorities as the Security Council focuses on international peace and security this year, while furthering conversations on UN reforms by African leaders and experts.

Mozambique has repeatedly abstained from UN votes to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And analyst Lourenço said that despite Maputo's “own issues” in tackling domestic terrorism, such visit also amplifies the voices of African leaders who have become ''vocal in recent times” on geopolitics.

Greenfield is expected in Kenya, her final stopover to conclude her third trip to Sub-Saharan Africa since representing the US at the United Nations.

Odeh Friday, Accountability Lab country director for Nigeria, told VOA that these trips are “going to improve the relationship” between the US and Africa ''because of the high level engagement.”

“I feel the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit has set the ball rolling,” he said.

“The US government is really active and geared to step up the engagement and work so that commitments made (at the U.S Africa Leaders Summit) translates into reality.”

But he added that “we need to also look at what this means in terms of commitment and actions from African leaders in order to farther these conversations, implement them and translate them into action.”

Friday also said Africans are “impatient” and want to “see action” on how these high-level visits would have a meaningful impact on their everyday lives.

“Africans are focused on insecurity, food insecurity because these issues are making life difficult for them. And so these visits should be centered on citizens so they can have a renewed sense of hope,” Friday said.

“They want something that can better their lives and make their communities thrive. So yes, for me, I feel they're indifferent about it.”