Monday October 3, 2022
Mogadishu (HOL) - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is expected to travel back to the US in mid-December for a major African Summit in Washington DC, according to Villa Somalia sources.Several African diplomats said their relations with the US soured in recent years during the Trump administration, who showed little interest in sub-Saharan Africa.
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, scheduled for Dec. 13-15, will bring up to 50 African heads of state to discuss various global issues, including economic recovery, food security and climate change.
"The summit will demonstrate the United States enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities," Biden said in a statement announcing the summit.
Trump, who never visited Africa during his tenure, infamously referred to Haiti and African nations as 'shithole' countries and banned immigration from several mostly-black countries.
Biden has also yet to visit Africa since becoming president, but his administration said the summit would create an opportunity for engagement and dialogue.
The first and last time the US president held a major conference with African leaders was in August 2014 under the Obama administration. The three-day summit hosted by Obama focused on trade, investment and security at a time when China was significantly increasing investments in Africa.
The strategy is reminiscent of prominent China-Africa summits, including the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation which began in 2000 and is seen as integral to China's global infrastructure development strategy known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
China is currently the largest donor to African infrastructure projects. With its massive infrastructure needs and energy potential, Chinese officials have repeatedly said that Africa is a critical component of their Belt and Road initiative. Many of China's earliest infrastructure investments in Africa began in East Africa.
The power competition is seen as a boon for the current Somali administration, which has made its foreign policy mission to strengthen international partnerships and its relationship with its neighbours.
In contrast, Biden's promotion of Western democracies as a counterweight to China has been a mainstay of his diplomatic efforts.
During a visit to Minneapolis in July, The US Ambassador to Somalia, Larry Andre, told an audience of Somali-Americans it was an "exciting" time in Somalia. He added that he was disappointed with Somalia's recent elections, which were marred by widespread accusations of vote-rigging and corruption.