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Biden Takes Steps to Strengthen America’s Relationship with Angola

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President Joe Biden welcomed President João Lourenço of Angola to the White House on Thursday, in an effort to boost ties with African nations and fulfill his commitment to revitalizing relations with the continent.

The meeting marked the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and focused on cooperation in areas such as trade, energy, climate, and a $1 billion infrastructure project supported by the United States that would benefit Angola’s economy.

However, this visit comes amidst concerns about the United States’ dedication to Africa, as plans for Biden’s long-awaited trip to the continent remain uncertain.

Nearly a year ago, Biden made a promise during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, stating that the United States is fully committed to Africa’s future. He made various pledges to demonstrate this commitment, including expressing his desire to visit African nations.

During the Oval Office meeting with President Lourenço, Biden sought to reiterate this commitment, recognizing the crucial moment at hand. As global competition intensifies and Africa becomes a vital sphere of influence, the United States lags behind other major countries like China and Russia. Africa has the youngest and fastest-growing population globally.

Biden praised Angola as an example of his administration’s commitment to investing in Africa. Specifically, he highlighted the $1 billion U.S.-backed rail project known as the Lobito Corridor, which would connect Angola with resource-rich regions in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Biden referred to this venture as the largest U.S. rail investment in Africa to date, stating that it will generate employment opportunities and enhance market connectivity for future generations. It is worth noting that the United States has a significant self-interest in this project, due to its reliance on rare-earth minerals.

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Furthermore, Biden disclosed that the United States is investing an additional $1 billion in Africa, including funding for solar energy initiatives. He emphasized the importance and impact of the partnership between Angola and America. While reaffirming his commitment to visit the continent, Biden did not provide a specific timeline for his trip.

Angola holds historical significance for the United States as the country from which the first enslaved Black people were brought to America in 1619.

President Lourenço expressed his satisfaction with the meeting, stating that the relationship between Angola and the United States is at an impressive level. He praised the openness of the U.S. government and highlighted the positive outcomes that Angola and the entire continent would gain from this partnership.

However, it is crucial to recognize that the United States’ rivals, such as China and Russia, have also been actively engaging with Africa. The United States maintains that its interest in Africa is not solely motivated by competition with other nations.

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Despite efforts by the Biden administration, Cameron Hudson, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, warns against underestimating the symbolic importance of Biden’s promise from last year. The African community expects concrete actions that match the rhetoric expressed during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

While various administration officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, have visited Africa, the sentiment is that the reality falls significantly short of the promises made. The rhetoric was grand, but the actions thus far have not aligned with the expectations of African nations.

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