Yellen’s Visit Continues the U.S. Charm Offensive in Africa

Yellen’s Visit Continues the U.S. Charm Offensive in Africa
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and South African Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana meet at the National Treasury in Pretoria, South Africa, Jan. 26, 2023 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen completed a recent three-country trip across Africa this week that saw stops in the continent’s west and south. The visit sought to expand economic ties between the United States and Africa, following Washington’s much-touted desire to “reset” relations with the continent. Yellen also discussed energy, food security, debt and infrastructure in the three countries she visited—Senegal, Zambia and South Africa—echoing the Biden administration’s messaging of renewed commitment to African security and prosperity.

Last August, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled Washington’s “Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” during a three-nation tour of the continent. Four months later, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted African leaders in the second U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. During that gathering, Biden declared that the United States was “all in” on Africa’s future, adding that “Africa belongs at the table” of major global conversations. He pledged to visit the continent in 2023, although he did not give details about when and where that trip will take place.

Yellen’s 10-day trip began in Senegal, where she met with senior government officials including President Macky Sall, the outgoing chairperson of the African Union. She also visited a U.S.-funded business incubator for Senegalese women, where Yellen reiterated Biden’s stated commitment to African countries. “The United States is all in on Africa, and all in with Africa,” she said. “And our engagement is not transactional. It’s not for show. And it’s not for the short term.” To back up the administration’s outreach efforts, Yellen launched a new U.S.-backed rural electrification project that aims to provide reliable electricity to more than 350,000 people in Senegal.

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