U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently on a five-day tour of sub-Saharan Africa, his first to the region since taking office in January. Having already visited Kenya and Nigeria this week, he will conclude his tour Saturday in Senegal.
The trip comes amid intensifying challenges for U.S. policy across Africa, including a deadly new crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Sudan following last month’s coup, a persistent civil conflict in Ethiopia, and mounting concerns about instability, democratic regression and the viability of the state in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation. Washington is also concerned about China’s deepening relationship with African countries, including some traditional U.S. partners.
Blinken began his visit in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, where he met with Foreign Minister Raychelle Omano and President Uhuru Kenyatta. On the agenda were climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and regional security issues. Kenya is a longstanding U.S. security partner as well as the largest economy in East Africa, and it currently holds a non-permanent, two-year seat on the U.N. Security Council, as well as a seat on the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. The Biden administration is leaning heavily on Kenya to mediate in regional hotspots like Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia. Blinken also met with local civil society leaders before departing Nairobi.