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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 21st January 2021

Africa's youth send US President Biden a message

Blue Lines

Alongside the gargantuan domestic policy agenda awaiting United States President Joe Biden and strategic challenges in Russia and China, his arrival at the White House has stirred hopes of a new start in Africa. These include more support for the international financial institutions, and rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate accord.

There are also hopes that he will lift the Trump veto on Africa's candidate for Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. There is likely to be a high-level US delegation to the African Union summit in Addis Ababa due on 6-7 February.

The agenda will be crowded, spanning Egypt's negotiations with Ethiopia over the dam on the Nile, the Trump administration's support for Morocco's claims on Western Sahara, and the withdrawal of US troops from Somalia, which hosts an AU peacekeeping force. Most pressing may be the wave of demonstrations in Tunisia. Ten years ago, protests raged across North Africa, unseating the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and eventually, Libya.

Biden, then deputy to President Barack Obama, had advised against pulling US support for the beleaguered Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. Ten years on, the region faces still tougher economic conditions. Now, as President, Biden will again have to choose between the incumbents or their young opponents.