PANEL DISCUSSION
Rebuilding US-Africa relationships under the Biden Administration and its nexus with China
22 June 2021

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Analysts have attempted previews on how the relationship between the US and Africa will unfold under a Biden administration. Given the prominent role of China in Africa, it is also important to understand US – China relationship expectation, and how African countries ought to position themselves within this contestation.

 

Broadly speaking, analysts have suggested that there will be a normalisation of diplomatic relations between the US, China and Africa. In this regard:

 

  • The Biden administration will build on and deepen the pre-Trump initiatives as they relate to Africa. They will take a more keen interest in Africa.

  • The contestation with China will remain, especially as it relates to trade, democracy and human rights; but the narrative will be more civil and competitive as opposed to combative.

 

Is this so? To date we have seen mixed signals. What to expect going forward?

 

To answer these questions the Inclusive Society Institute held a dialogue on Tuesday, 22 June 2021, with foreign policy experts from the US and South Africa. It aimed to answer the following questions:

 

  • Expected US policy on Africa

  • Expected US policy on China

  • How should African countries, who wish to retain good relationships with both sides, position themselves to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

 

Participants included:

 

  • Prof William Gumede, Executive Chairperson, Democracy Works and Associate Professor at the School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, who moderated the discussion.

  • Daryl Swanepoel, Chief Executive Officer of the Inclusive Society Institute

  • Ambassador Gert Grobler, former South African diplomat and currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Zheijiang Normal University, China.

  • Dr Bob Weseka, Coordinator: African Centre for the Study of the US, University of the Witwatersrand

  • Prof Tom Sheehy, Principal, Quinella Global, former staff director of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

  • Charlie Snyder, Institute for World Politics, former National Intelligence Officer for Africa

  • Dr Joshua Stone, inter alia, former Professor of International Instruction, Beijing, China—DePaul University, and former Congressional Aide to Congresswomen Barbara Lee.