In Brief: House foreign affairs leader on US-Africa policy priorities

U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks. Photo by: Stefani Reynolds / CNP / Abaca

The United States’ Africa policy needs to be “reset,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday at an event where he outlined his vision for the U.S.-Africa relationship.

“My goal is to reset the United States’ relationship with Africa by focusing on shared challenges, expanding people-to-people relationships and exchanges, developing partnerships to increase youth participation in the digital workforce, and championing a more robust presence across the continent,” Meeks said.

Why it matters: Meeks just took charge of the committee, and many development advocates weren’t sure what his priorities would be. He made it clear that he chose to focus his first public event on Africa for a reason — it will be a top priority for the committee.

The details: The U.S. will no longer view Africa through the “prism of competition with China and Russia,” as former President Donald Trump’s administration did, but rather place “Africa and Africans at the forefront of our relationship,” he said. Here are some of the policies he outlined:

• New collaboration on climate change across levels of government.
• A new urban development initiative.
• Better engagement of diaspora populations.
• More collaboration on arts, culture, and entertainment.
• Supporting the African Continental Free Trade Area “wholeheartedly,” including by providing technical assistance.
• Investing in digital infrastructure and improving digital education to create opportunities for youths.
• Examining security partners and partnering with those countries that hold free, fair, and credible elections.
• Focusing on the prevention of conflict using the tools of the Global Fragility Act.

To realize this, the U.S. needs to fully staff U.S. embassies and missions across the continent and explore expanding staffs. The U.S. needs to better engage with and listen to governments, regional organizations, and citizens across the continent, Meeks said.

About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is a Senior Reporter at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.