Evolving state of US engagement across the African continent

World Today

Evolving state of US engagement across the African continentPresident Barack Obama speaks during a news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, on Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Nairobi, Kenya. Obama nudged African nations Saturday to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law, a position that remains unpopular through much of the continent. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trade and investment are high on the agenda as the forum on China-Africa cooperation gets underway in Beijing.  In Africa, the scale and pace of Chinese investment contrasts with the United States and analysts suggest Washington must make a critical decision about its approach to the continent.

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough explains.

Bill Clinton made history in Africa in 1998 as his six-country tour was then the most extensive visit by any United States President. It was also a new kind of engagement after the U.S. was criticised for not intervening in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Clinton’s successor George W. Bush made a similar tour in 2003 and Bush’s emergency plan for AIDS Relief is the world’s largest medicine provider to combat the disease.

But Barack Obama, the first African-American U.S. president, wanted a different focus when he toured the continent with his Power Africa energy plan in 2013.

“We are looking at a new model, that is based not just on aid and assistance, but on trade and partnership,” Obama said. “And increasingly what we want to do is use whatever monies we are providing to build capacity,” he said.

Yet, the U.S. remains by far the biggest provider of development aid to Africa while overall trade between the two diminishes.

Donald Trump has hosted African leaders to talk trade, but his Africa point man only started in July and some analysts say his administration appears more focused on security and how to counter multiple Islamic insurgencies from west to east Africa.