Strategy Note /

US charms Africa amid a scramble with China and the EU

  • US-Africa Leaders Summit on 13-15 December confirms greater effort to charm Africa under Biden than Trump

  • Since the inaugural 2014 summit, financial pledges for Africa from China are over 4x those from the US

  • FDI into most larger Africa economies is well below pre-Covid level, down almost 20% across the continent

US charms Africa amid a scramble with China and the EU
Hasnain Malik
Hasnain Malik

Strategy & Head of Equity Research

Tellimer Research
9 December 2022
Published byTellimer Research

Note: Subsequent to the publication of this report, US$55bn of investments were pledged over three years by the US to Africa; this compares to US$33bn at the last summit in 2014 and pledges of US$40bn from China in 2021 (contributing to total of US$160bn since 2015) and EUR150bn from the EU in 2022.

The US-Africa Leaders Summit, on 13-15 December in Washington, takes place after a period when the Covid pandemic, high fuel and food prices, US dollar strength, and the higher cost of finance for sovereigns has wrought lasting damage to most economies but, given generally smaller buffers and policy space, particularly to those in Africa.

While the summit marks a clear change in diplomatic tack from former President Trump's "shithole" countries remark in 2018, and the initial hoarding of Covid vaccines by the Trump and Biden administrations, the main focus should be on the size of investment and finance pledges announced by the US.

The summit also takes place at time of lame-duck presidencies in the continent's two largest economies – South Africa (Ramaphosa faces an election in 2024 if he survives the splits within his ANC party) and Nigeria (having reached his two-term limit, Buhari will not contest the February 2023 election).

FDI below pre-Covid level in most larger Africa economies

The inaugural, and previously the only, US-Africa Leaders summit was in 2014, hosted by then president Barack Obama. Its main economic outcome was US$33bn of new investment and finance pledges.

Since then:

  • China – over three Forums for China-Africa Cooperation in 2015, 2018, and 2021 – has committed US$140bn.

  • The European Union-Africa Union Summit of 2022 saw the announcement of EUR150bn of pledges.

China pledges to Africa since 2014 over 4x those of the US

Related reading

China and US scramble for Africa, Nov 2021

US, Europe, China: A Tripolar World hastened by the Russia-Ukraine War, Mar 2022