U.S. lawmakers that spoke to media ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that was delivered Tuesday, said Washington has neglected its foreign relations with Africa and called on government to work with its European partners to address challenges faced by the youngest and fastest growing continent in the world.
Congressman Jim Costa, a representative of the 21st District of California, called on the Biden administration to act fast in countering China and Russia’s growing influence in Africa.
“Africa is an incredible continent with much diversity, but they have been exploited for centuries and we see that taking form with China and Russia,” said Costa.
The California representative further tackled the Eastern influence on the continent by alleging that nations such as Russia and China are fueling dictatorships in Africa.
“China’s policy in Africa, its belt and road policy, is nothing more than an energy and mineral policy, because they don’t care who or what dictatorial regime or government is in place in Africa, they are only interested in extracting energy and minerals from the African continent,” he said.
“America, as the leader of the free world, with our partners in Europe, must come together with a long-term policy to support fledgling democracies within Africa, to deal with the problems of corruption and to try to build support,” added Costa.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently visited several African nations, where she met with authorities and re-affirmed Washington’s commitment towards strengthening relations and investment opportunities with the continent.
“The United States is all in on Africa, and all in with Africa,” said Yellen during her visit to Senegal, adding, “our engagement is not transactional, it’s not for show, and it’s not for the short-term.”
Tom Sheehy, a political analyst and fellow at the US Institute of Peace said the Biden administration is living up to its commitments made to African leaders during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held in Washington in December.
“It was the first summit since 2014 and Africans were pleased that the United States held this, but it’s all about the follow up now and I do sense that the agencies responsible for making the commitments real have really upped their game,” said Sheehy.
VOA’s Joao Jose Santarita and James Butty contributed towards this report.