US President Joe Biden threw his support behind a larger African role in the world as he also vowed to champion democracy in a continent where China and Russia have enjoyed rising clout.
“The United States is all in on Africa and all in with Africa,” Biden told nearly 50 African leaders who have spent three days in a wintry Washington summit that featured a gala White House dinner.
Biden said “Africa belongs to the table in every room — every room for global challenges that are being discussed,”
Biden, while announcing $100 million for security, also added that the United States would invest $75 million to counteract “democratic backsliding” including by strengthening electoral authorities and civil society.
Biden met jointly with the leaders of six nations that hold elections next year including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest countries in population and size respectively, to seek promises on free elections.
Biden, who in September called for an African permanent seat on the UN Security Council, backed a permanent African Union role in the Group of 20 economies and said he was planning a visit — the first by a US president since 2015 to sub-Saharan Africa.
The summit is the first of its kind since African leaders came in 2014 to see Barack Obama, whose successor Donald Trump made no secret of his lack of interest in Africa.
China for the past decade has eclipsed the United States as an investor, and Russia in recent years has sent in mercenaries and sought diplomatic support against Western pressure.
Biden announced $2.5 billion in new assistance on food as price increases lead to hunger across the continent, especially in the drought-struck Horn.